Thursday, December 11, 2014

Emily sent us the following email on Monday, December 8, 2014--her 22nd Birthday!  She will finish her mission next Tuesday, Dec. 16th.  Peter and I are going to California to pick her up and tour her mission for a couple of days before coming home with her on Friday, Dec. 19th.  THIS IS SUCH AN EXCITING TIME!!!  I assume Emily will email next Monday (Dec. 15), but I won't be home to get her email and post it on this blog.  I'm sure there's a way to do it using a laptop or cell phone, but that's kind of a stretch for me....  IF I can figure out how to do it, I will post her final missionary email next Monday.  If I CAN'T figure it out.......please sit back and enjoy Emily's final post below! ;)

From: Emily Christensen <>
Subject: iiiiiiiiiiiiii'm tweeen-teee twwooo---ooo-ooo!!!
Date: December 8, 2014 2:08:36 PM MST
 iiiiiiiiiiiiii'm tweeen-teee twwooo---ooo-ooo!!! dun dun dun dun dun dun dun dun  whoooooo-oo-ooo-ooo-ooo (Sung to the tune of Taylor Swift; never getting back together)

Well today has been wonderful!  The elders showed up at out apartment bearing gifts of tres leches cake and singing.  Herman Rodriguez out-did herself and decorated the house at 3:00 am while I was sound asleep!  Ella SE BOTO!  My Christmas spirit only fueled me through hanging some of the streamers and then I lost some motivation as the fight to keep the streamers taped to the ceiling grew.  Let's just say I got creative and those streamers will not be coming down.  Also, Hna. R took me and we got my eyebrows threaded so I'm sporting a very sleek holiday look!  She is so good to me!  You will be so excited to meet her because I love her so much!  

ACTUALLY!  Ok, let me go back for 2 seconds!

Hermana Escobar.  I love her.  We eat with her every monday.  She is the most humble, sweet, cheerful, generous lady you will ever meet.  She had some money stolen from her bag right after one of her cleaning jobs.  Maybe it's because I'm exhausted, my mission is ending, something else and the injustice of the situation, but there were a LOT of tears.  We said a prayer over her little bag and then searched it and the more it seemed that we weren't going to find the bulk sum or all her recent efforts, the less of a grip I could keep on myself.  Then, tender mercy: Hna Rodriguez told Hna. Escobar that she should pray about it, but if she wanted to come to Utah, she could live in her basement in a guest room they have there.  Do you know what hopeful possibility feels like?  It feels like the way I felt when you all suggested that I actually wasn't stuck and I could have a new life and a new adventure at BYU instead of SUU.  It is kinda a calm feeling and I know it is the spirit.  Well, that is the calm that came down and filled her little trailer.  She has always wanted to come to Utah.  We got permission from the president to call Hna. Rodriguez's mom to talk about stuff.  They chatted for a while, and then I chatted with her mom.  She is hilarious.  One of her talents is impersonating accents.  She speaks spanish, but knows english.  She is very animated and just good to the core.  They got her whole family together and they sang happy birthday to me.  We should definitely invite them to our house to meet the chavez's.  Or whatever works well for you guys!  There is going to be so much spanish loving in our home this Christmas!  You guys will understand a little bit what their culture is like :)  End result: They think Hna. Escobar should have a 2 month trial vacation first because the culture shock could be a bit overwhelming.  She is really thinking about it.  It was incredible how this small invitation calmed the raging storm of turmoil almost instantly.  God takes care of his faithful members.  She has complete confidence in Heavenly Father.  She just trusts that somehow he will provide for her.  She almost sounded surprised that he would be as quick to answer her prayers as he always is. Of course he answers HER prayers instantly, she is an angel in the flesh.  There is no surprise here!  Tender mercies galore!

He is the gift.  The church is so smart.  All their marketing initiatives are very top notch.  
Watch the video.  Share the video: Facebook, twitter, etc.
We've seen miracles by getting people to watch it on the street.  Heavenly Father is so smart.  He knows everyone has i phones and that 2 minutes is the perfect amount.  You can't watch the video without being touched.  

Moroni and Candy Castillo took us and Mauricio to the temple last week.  It was super neat. We watched the family movie and then I really missed you guys!  We watched the "He is the Gift" video there and it was really powerful.  I got to see a missionary there that I met last Christmas when we visited the visitor center.  She is from Spain and knew Hna. Calderon.  She is just a special girl, so it was perfect that I saw her and that she got to meet Mauricio and take us around.  

When you come, bring your scriptures, and bring the camera.  Maybe the telephoto lens.  I don't know if you would be interested in doing a session in the temple, but you can decide.  If yes, you'll want your clothes unless you just rent ($5).  We might not have enough time for that this time around, but we can see.  

I bet I will get your birthday package to me after I email.  Thanks for thinking of me and remembering me!  It's going to be a great day and a great week!  And I get to see you soo soon!  YAYYY!!!  Let the adventure begin!  

Ok, ok, ok!  I love you!  I will see you soo soon!

Love, Hermana Christensen

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Emily sent the following email on Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2014:

I miss you so much :)  I started decorating our apartment.  I cut out a reindeer from wrapping paper and put it on the wall.  It is so cute.  We’ll get a picture of it.  Can you be sure to bring my camera when you come to get me?  I know we'll want to take pictures during that time :)  I am putting up red crepe paper.  I am going to figure out how to make those paper star/flower things and I will hang it where the streamers connect.  And underneath, I will put my study desk with the nativity set you made me :)

HA!  That is so exciting that you are driving here so soon.  Do you know where we will be staying?

Is there snow at our house right now?  What is the forecast like?

OOh!  I forgot that my birthday is even coming!  I don't want you guys to worry about buying my anything, mostly I just want to be with you! :)  I would like it though if you help me pick some new clothes when I come home.  

We are going to the temple visitor center tonight with Mauricio and so that is really exciting.  We had an MLC yesterday so it took the whole day.  The ipads are not coming until next year ;(  Oh well!  I did it all the real way!  

Have you heard about the "He is the Gift" initiative?  The church is doing a lot of expensive advertising for it!  The church is doing such big and cool things!  You should watch the short video on

Well, I will see you really soon! :)

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Emily sent us the following email and pictures on Monday, November 24, 2014.  I'm sorry it has taken me (Heidi) so long to update Emily's blog this week!

Hey you guys!!

Thanks for your emails!  Today I am finally mailing you some fun things I thought of that we could do with German and Francisca!

Mauricio came to church yesterday!  He came all dressed nice in a purple shirt!  He asked him how he liked the church and he was like "de ser honesto, me encanto" (to be honest, I loved it).  There was a huge outpouring of love from all the members.  He checked to make sure that the day he could get baptized is still the 14th, and we said yes.  He is already talking to his boss to make sure that we won't have to work that day.  I really won't be satisfied until he has a set schedule that doesn't allow him to work on sundays because just asking every week and seeing how it goes doesn't feel safe enough.  

We have another investigator with the same baptismal date, Rosa, the bishop's mom, but I don't think she's going to make it.  I think there are just too many other things that preoccupy her mind.  

We had to drop some of our good long term investigators.  Then we had a bunch of other ones drop us.  It is just so hard for people to act.  I love it when we meet people who will act on our message.  They are so rare and of such high caliber.  

I love you guys so much!  You are the best parents and you are my best friend.  I can't wait to get to share these things with you guys.  I"m sorry if I'm not always the best writer.  I feel like I am a more in-person kinda person.  So, yes I'm very excited to see you guys in the flesh!  

We had the lady from Salt Lake come and talk to a group of spanish sister training leaders and zone leaders.  She was super nice.  They are gathering information to see what kind of learning programs they should design for people pre-mtc, mtc, field, and post field.  She would ask us questions and get lots of different answers.  She also tried out some survey questions to see how they were interpreted and how they should tweak them before sending the survey out.  That is something I learned in stats: the wording of survey questions couldn't carry higher importance.  You have to really look at what you want to measure and make sure that is what you are measuring.  It was just really interesting.  She works at the MTC and told me to come visit with her after I finish my mission. :)

We had a fun thanksgiving party.

We had a special MLC last night.  We drove down to Santa Clarita and spent a few hours with the president and with Jerry Gains (Area 70) and just talked about a few things.  It was a pretty loose agenda, but they shared some scriptures and talked about making sure we really share our testimonies with investigators about how we've repented and they can do it too.  His wife told about how they got married and told us to follow the promptings we get from the holy ghost and not fight against them.  There was definitely that theme going on a bit haha.  

Besides all that, just the normal, finding people, teaching lesson 1, trying to refind investigators, contacting, referrals, etc.  

I'm doing good and I am happy.  

Love, Hermana Christensen

Subject: THIS IS MAURICIO!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Hermana Rodriguez, Emily, & Mauricio
Emily and her companion, Hermana Rodriguez~a "selfie" in the mirror!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Emily sent us the following email on Monday, November 17, 2014.  She has invited her dear friends, German & Francisca, to come home with her for a few days after her mission.  She is so excited to take them to Temple Square and try to return some of the kindness they have shown her while she has been on her mission.

Oh, Mom & Dad!

I sent that little letter [invitation] from Heidi with the elders so they could give it to German and Francisca.  The elders reported back that German and Francisca were SO EXCITED!  They literally can't think about anything else.  People at work and in the ward who find out that they are going to utah get them so excited too!  To every member of the church here in California, taking a trip to Utah is like taking a trip to the celestial kingdom.  People talk about how clean and calm and nice and beautiful utah is.  They praise it up.  Haha someone at work talked to German and found out he was going to utah on a trip (that is the reason he got work off) (Which, by the way NEVER HAPPENS!) and he told him "you have to make sure you go to the mormon temple!!"  And german is thinking, "I  am mormon! :)"  People have been telling them to make sure they take lots of pictures and.....SO GREAT!  
Our investigators are doing well.  Mauricio is a champ.  I am just going to tell you about him for a second.  He is probably one of my favorite people I have taught my whole mission.  Talk about someone that has the light of Christ and has been being prepared.  

We had this wonderful lesson with Mauricio right before we had to go to Santa Clarita for the sister training leader meeting.  

Before we even started teaching the lesson, Mauricio told us that he'd just finished listening to the saturday conferences and was about to start listening to sunday morning.  This is because we texted the day or so before and told him to find general conference online.  Well, he found it.  And then started listening to it.  :D  He told us that he'd gotten home the night before at 2:00 am so that'd thrown his reading off, but that if he kept on schedule, he'd finish all the sessions by the next morning.  WHAT?!?!  WHO IS THIS GUY!?!?  I'm trying not to grin so largely that it's creepy!  Hna. Rodriguez and I both want to jump and shout!  Then he told us that he really liked the talk that is "what way do you face?"  Toward the people or toward God.  Then he told us that it was true that so many people think it is about pleasing other people, but we have to be more concerned about pleasing God.  

We taught him about the Word of Wisdom.  You just have to see him learning because it is so incredible.  He displays all the book (PMG) symptoms of someone that has the light of Christ and has been prepared by angels to hear this message.  He nods and verbally affirms that, "yes, this is true".  I watch him try to contain really big smiles when he realizes that he is reading something that falls so perfectly in line with what his spirit feels like must be true but is not a known standard from anywhere.  It's incredible to see the faith light up his face.  After we tell him something, either what we should or shouldn't do or the blessings that come from obeying that, he will say, "es certo" (It's certain) and then he will make a very insightful comment about that and tell us why that point is true.  

After explaining the substances that the Word of Wisdom prohibits, we asked Mauricio if he had a problem with any of the substances.  He said he used to, but then he realized that those things weren't good for him and so he overcame his addictions and has no problems.  WOW.  PREPARED.  We told him that he had been prepared and that this was an obstacle that keeps a lot of people from being able to be baptized as soon as they'd like, but that his baptism can happen in December because God saw it fit to prepare him.  He responded, yes.  :)

jaja this is really cute.  There is a really old, cheesy picture in the Word of Wisdom foyetto where the mom is helping her son cut a banana with a butter knife and the dad is trying to see the excitement and laughing with the whole family.  As soon as Mauricio saw this (jaja) he said something along the lines of, "oh, if I live this law, I will have a family JUST like this!"  Haha!  So wholesome of him!  Maybe he realized it sounded a little silly after it came out of his mouth, sweet, right?  He is about 28 and would be such a good dad of such a good family.  

Sometimes missionaries hesitate to ask really good investigators questions right out because they are afraid that the investigators won't be able to answer confidently in the affirmative.  We are over that!  We asked Mauricio: 
Do you believe the Book of Mormon is true?
Do you believe that Joseph Smith is a profet?
Oh, yes. 
Do you believe that the Word of Wisdom was revealed to Joseph Smith?
Do you believe it is a true law?

Conviction with no hesitation.  Incredible. 

At the end of the lesson, he laughingly said, "I always wondered why you guys didn't drink coffee, jaja, and now I know"  He said it with such joy because it now was clear as day to him that the Mormons knew something that everyone else didn't.  It is simple to see why the mormons don't drink coffee.  It is because God revealed the law to Joseph Smith and therefore, we follow it.  He really gets it.  I don't know what I did to be so privileged to be able to watch this from up close.  

Oh, the other best part of this lesson is that when we asked him about his work schedule (this has been causing  a problem because he works Sundays), he told us that he'd talked to his boss again.  His boss is thinking about it.  He told us that if his boss said no that his plan B was just to quit and stick with his evening job and request more hours there.  Then HE told US that people need to understand that church is more important.  If you know me, then yes, my heart was exploding!!!!

We got a text from Mauricio last night that says he thinks......................wait for it..................He'll be able to come to church next Sunday!

I love you so much!  Thanks for listening to all that!  It is hard for me because If I tell a story, I really want to do it justice.  

I'll talk to you guys so soon :)

Love, Hermana Christensen

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Emily sent the following email and pictures on Monday, Nov. 10, 2014:

Hey mom!  Hey dad!  Ok, I am so happy to hear from you! :)

 Ok, news!  So, did you like my hesitant schedule that you guys come here on the 16 (tuesday) and get me and then we spend wednesday and thursday running around trying to track people down and then drive home on the 19th???  Remember how I told you that I invited German and Francisca to come and visit us??  I think they are really thinking about it.  Work for them is almost an unmovable obstacle, but Francisca told me that German, who knows how, got a whole week off.  I urged Francisca to ask her boss if she can take off friday and Monday so that they could hopefully drive home with us Friday, stay Saturday and Sunday, and then drive back Monday.  
I know this sounds crazy, but it's actually soooooooo cool!  They have never been out of California and they will never have a better chance.  They will never have work off like this.  There will never be as many fun and festive things happening in utah and temple square will never be prettier.  I know it seems like such a big thing, but I know this would be a dream vacation for them and it would be so much fun for us too.  Is this ok with you guys?  I invited them in all seriousness because I didn't think you would have any problem with it, but I realized that I never actually asked you.  It'll be crazy because I will have my two worlds crashed together!  First you guys will be here running around California with me and then they will be in Utah, having the time of their lives.  We could just spoil them so much!  Do you realize how fun this could be? :)  We could make them yummy treats for December and Christmas, introduce them to snow or take them sledding, take them to do baptisms for the dead for the first time, show them temple square and let them listen to music.  It doesn't seem like it could really happen, but...WHAT DO YOU THINK?  Can we give them a dream vacation? :)  They would love to hear you play the piano and see the pageant that you always do at church.  We could find out what will be happening on temple square and we could take them to grammy and bompa's and show them fruit and cook with them.  

This week has been one of the longest weeks ever!  

This week we had MLC (Mission Leadership Conference) and mostly talked about the mission plan for 2014 and what it should include for 2015.  It's crazy because about 90 missionaries will go home in the next 3 transfers.  (almost half the mission)  We are a really old mission.  Each of these coming transfers will take so many missionaries.  And then our mission will be replenished with all new missionaries in the summer and the mission will get a new mission president then.  CRAZY!  

We sought a lot of revelation for our ZTM (Zone Training Meeting) and we trained on Coordination mtg, Ward council, and mission plans (from MLC).  From our own creation, we talked about working with members, but more specifically have adventures misionales (missionary adventures!).  This is when a member comes out with us for a couple of hours and we really don't know what we are going to find!  We might have lessons and they might fall through, but then we'll contact or knock or try to find people that will let us in to teach a lesson.  Marketing it as a missionary adventure should be helpful to us as missionaries because then we aren't quite as uncomfortable when things don't go as planned and it makes it exciting! ;)  Just like how before teaching a new investigator we would do a "how to begin teaching", we will have a how to begin adventuring.  We'll prep them with what they will encounter, why we do it, what they can do, etc.  People were really excited!

We also trained on setting baptismal dates.  Pretty much every lesson should be a baptism lesson.  We talked about strategies to use to help people understand our purpose and feel really comfortable talking about baptism.  

I have really had to look at what I'd like to get done with the time that I have.  There are a couple of people that I'd really like to see make it to baptism before I have to leave: Romonita, Angel, Mauricio (!), Dulce y familia, and Isabelle.  They are our focuses.  There are 2 menus families that I'd like to strengthen and Hna Higuera needs a testimony of the Book of Mormon.  

I have really had to look at what I'd like to get done with the time that I have.  There are a couple of people that I'd really like to see make it to baptism before I have to leave: Romonita, Angel, Mauricio (!), Dulce y familia, and Isabelle.  They are our focuses.  There are 2 menus families that I'd like to strengthen and Hna Higuera needs a testimony of the Book of Mormon.  

Sometimes I don't realize that I'm ever going to leave and sometimes I feel really weird.  I know that I will do everything I can to help these investigators progress while still maintaining our finding efforts.  It is so hard to prioritize your time because it just feels like you hardly have any time.  It is hard because returning to apts with potentials feels like such an unproductive use of time because I want to make every hour count.  I don't know.  I'm probably just babbling now.  

We've dropped our investigators that probably won't progress and we want to see more from some of the people we do have.  

I can't believe that Sammy is already 1/4 done with his mission.  Where did HIS time go?!?

I love you both so much!  I am trying to look ahead and see what preparations I need to make for when you guys come here.  Don't get your hopes up too much.  This little patch of California is actually pretty ghetto and dirty.  I'm sure the only reason I love it is because I'm here on a mission!  We might not find anyone home or they might not remember me!  But we'll give it a go and you'll get a good dose of culture, I hope :)

Love, your favorite, 
Hermana Christensen

My companion likes taking selfies!

Do you know what this is?

Santa Clause sighting on Saticoy and Tampa early in November!!!

Can you say "Karate kid"?
[I (Heidi) think this is the apartment complex where
part of the original Karate Kid movie was filmed.]
And this is where Mr. Miyagi saves
the Karate Kid from getting beat up.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Emily sent us the following email and pictures on Monday, Nov. 3, 2014:

From: Emily Christensen <>
Subject: It's the final countdown!!!

Hey Mom!  Dad!

We went to the temple on Halloween and we had a blast.  Afterwards we had a barbecue with the polacios and then went home for our 7:00 curfew.  The maintenance man caught us on out way out and told us about the package for me in the office.  I'll just let these pictures my companion snapped tell you if I got and liked the Halloween package you sent. 

News about transfers: Hermana Rodriguez and I are going to stay in this area.  Yay!  So I am still a sister training leader; so is she.  We will both finish our missions here in El Camino Real.  We will be at transfer meeting tomorrow, MLC on Wednesday, and do ZTM on Friday.  This week is going to be so busy we won't even have time to breathe!

I'm starting to get really nervous about coming home.  I like the security of our little safe bubble here.  I don't like worldly things and I don't like social media.  I feel like I am going to want to go into hiding.  I don't know, but I'm not anticipating coping very well.  Our only hope is that they break out the iPads tomorrow at MLC.  That probably can't happen, but the president went to a conference and will be sharing with us what he learned with all the other mission presidents.  And we haven't shipped them back yet.  And other missions have received iPads and have had people announce that their missions will receive iPads soon.  

p.s. you should look in the "mormon newsroom" off the website and look up the article: Vatican to Host Global Meeting of Faith Leaders....etc.  I just got really excited because this is going to be a huge thing in history.  

Last Sunday Adrianna got baptized!  I found her with Hermana Pulver a year ago and after being on and off with the missionaries for 1 year, she found her resolve and she is 110% committed to the church.  She has one of the strongest testimonies I've ever seen.  She is so humble and she is a surviver.  She was so prepared for baptism and now she is a strong, faithful member, full of more light then I've ever seen.

Yesterday the 3 Higuera children got baptized!  They are so adorable and they were happy to have gotten baptized together :)

We met a really great lady named Isabelle.  She was celebrating at the birthday party of her 1 year old son and invited us along with all the other people.  I ate posoli and have a permanently burned tongue.  

We are excited to work and run until the end.  We are just going to keep pressing forward and find and boldly invite.  

I can't believe that it is really getting towards the end.  Intellectually I get it and so I am preparing things so that I don't scramble last minute.  I am printing pictures out and writing letters to people. It doesn't feel like this could really end.  I do feel a significant amount of anxiety to have to recover doing normal people things and have to deal with problems of the real world.  

I love you and I will talk to you in a week! 

Love, Hermana Christensen

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Emily sent the following email on Monday, Oct. 28, 2014:

Hey mom!  Hey dad!

I hope you guys are having a great week!  I am doing pretty good. 

This week I have really been able to feel that this work is so much larger than I am.  I am just a tool in his hands.  We taught a mom named Dulce that told us she'd been praying to know what she needed to do in her life and what steps she needed to take.  We were knocking that floor because our appointment wasn't home.  I see the faith and hope in peoples' eyes when they agree to let us in their houses.  She really apologetically had to get up a couple of times to answer the door and make people snow cones, because that is one of the things she is doing to bring money in.  I love humble people.  So much.  She prayed to get a job and be able to provide for her family.  

3ish days later...Dulce got a job. :)

Bonnie, her neighbor feels alone and her kids don't respond to her.  She almost came to church, but then she didn't.  

Romonita didn't come to church. 

Three kids are hopefully getting baptized in a week.  

Next time I email you, I will know what is happening for the rest of my mission. 

I am doing really good!

Love, Hermana Christensen

p.s. shorter prep day because we are going to the temple on friday.

Love you!