Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Emily sent us the following email on Monday, December 30, 2013:

Hola Familia! :)

You are wonderful and I loved hearing from you for Christmas!  That was the best thing that could've happened!  I am so excited that everyone is loving the things that I sent to them.  I love you guys very much and know that family is the most important thing EVER.  SAM!  You put your papers in!  That is absolutely incredible and I am so proud of the decision that you've made to serve the Lord.  You will love being a representative of Him.  I always feel so much pride when we come to doors and introduce ourselves as representatives of Jesus Christ.  Being a member of the true church is never supposed to be easy because there is a lot of responsibility that comes with that calling and association.  It is exactly like being a part of a family.  You are born into responsibility that you are going to fulfill, with the end result being more joy than you can realize. 

So it turns out that I love contacting!  I feel more like a missionary when I am contacting than almost anything else.  We have been analyzing different strategies and trying different things.  We have had to adapt how we contact people so that we can make contact with more souls.  I have realized that right now the efforts in the mission are more on finding the ones that are ready than on convincing everyone.  I think at different times and in different places missionaries play different roles, and I am ready to accept all the inspiration and guidance that our leaders have for this mission and do the work in the way that they want it to be done. 
We had an exchange with the sister training leaders and I feel that our companionship is doing a very good job contacting.  During weekly planning we analyzed everything and compared our numbers with our vision and we sought out the point of disconnect.  The biggest problem sources down to the fact that we have potentials that frequently don't progress from that state.  This usually seems to happen because when we call to confirm they cancel or when we show up they are not home or tell us that they are busy or just about to leave.  To diagnose this specifically, we have a plan.  There are two things that we are going to start trying:
1) When we show up for an appointment that we have with a potential, we are going to be bolder in telling them that we came to share with them a message that is very important and will only take 10 minutes. 
This message is very important and should be made a priority.  I am going to show my confidence in this message by telling people of its importance and insist that it needs to be shared.  (always with love, always with love)  There are those that reconsider.   (this one directly addresses the problem we have with flaky potentials)
2) Inspired questions.  I love this because they are so powerful.  I am not very good at asking inspired questions and I think that is because a good question takes thought and is harder to form on the spot in Spanish.  I'm going to do the same thing with this that I had to do with contacting.  This is a weak area, but I'm determined to make it one of my strengths.  I have been thinking of inspired questions for contacting and different parts of each lesson.  (This more addresses contacting and lesson teaching--We are working on becoming gospel wizards.)
Also, Adrian is one of the most wonderful, faithful people I've ever met and he is going to get baptized on Saturday.  My testimony has grown through teaching him and addressing his concerns.  He had his baptismal interview on Sunday and he passed with flying colors.  President Mendez is going to baptize him and it is going to be a joyous moment. 
I love being a missionary.  I love feeding His sheep.
Love, Hna. Christensen

Friday, December 27, 2013

We were able to Skype with Emily for about 40 minutes on Christmas Day.  She is SO HAPPY!  She loves being a missionary and a representative of Jesus Christ.  She loves sharing the gospel and witnessing the way it touches people's hearts and changes their lives for the better.  Peter and I are so grateful for the wonderful experiences Emily is having as a missionary.  Her service is blessing all of our lives.

Here are a couple of photos of Emily with her companion, Hermana Larsen:

Monday, December 16, 2013

Em sent the following email on Monday, Dec. 16, 2013:

Hey Familia!

I did get my birthday package and I felt so much of your love!!  I love everything!  I sent you a Christmas card and I'm guessing it could get to you today or tomorrow. 

You'll get to read about Adrian.  He is absolutely wonderful.  

People who have been prepared by the Lord will be able to recognize us as servants of Him and will be ready to act according to the invitations that we make.  We are looking really hard to find these families.  We are knocking lots of doors and testifying of the Savior.  It's such a cool thing to be able to proselyte and preach the gospel.  There isn't another time in my life that I will be able to knock an apartment complex and tell people that I am a representative of Jesus Christ.  I won't be set apart at any other time to do that.  I won't have charge over an area like this at any other point in my life.  I like this privilege and I do recognize that it is a privilege even though it isn't in the past yet :)  Privilege is a hard word to spell. 

The mission really is changing me and helping me to be more Christ-like.  Dad, that talk that you send me about us being dually co-creaters and masterpieces in progress really hit me.  There are lots of things from that talk that I think about and refer back to often.  My absolute favorite part is the part where is says that one of the most Christ like things we can do is unexpectedly forgive someone.  

Ok, I'm going to just type this part from the article:

Esau is another unheralded example of one who showed us how to shape our lives in the image of God.  When his brother, Jacob, tricked him out of the birthright, Esau was enraged to the point of seeking to kill his brother.  After many years of avoiding each other, there was a dramatic moment when Jacob encountered his brother.  Jacob, fearing for his life, prepared gifts for Esau.  When Jacob met his brother, Esau unexpectedly forgave him.  Looking into Esau's forgiving face, Jacob exclaimed, "For therefore I have seen thy face as though I had seen the face of God."  The image of God is forgiveness.  As Brother Nibley always used to remind us, "the two things you can do in life are to repent and forgive."

Ever since reading this when you send it to be months ago, it has been my goal to unexpectedly forgive someone.  I'm too imperfect, and Heavenly Father has forgiven me so I want to always forgive people too. 

Love, Em

We got the following email from Emily on Monday, December 9, 2013:

Hola Familia!

Hay algo Nuevo que es empezando en este mission.  We can feel the urgency and the hastening.  I can feel the urgency for the salvation of souls.  We have to bring more people to the fold.  We are the hastening.  Not only is the work being hastened by the number of missionaries, but also there is hastening that is happening within every missionary.  We have to be the best teachers we've ever been. 

If we want to baptize more people, we have to teach more people.  If we want to teach more people, we have to find more people.  If we want to find more people, we have to talk to more people.  Our efforts in this mission are being focused on contacting.  We are going to become a mission of excellent contacters.  We role play and we practice different strategies and we are honing our skills so that people will hear true and powerful doctrine and accept the invitation to learn more about the truths that will change the lives of them and their family. 

There are high expectations and we are setting our goals so high that it is making us  change the way we work as missionaries.  In the valley missionaries can set goals to contact over 100 people a day.  This is incredible.  It is a little different in this valley because we contact by knocking doors, but I have knocked more this last week than I have my whole mission combined up until this point.  I love it.  We have to find the people that are prepared.  

I wish I could let you feel what it feels like to approach strangers and testify of Jesus Christ.  My heart bursts with pride to be a representative of him.  I love introducing myself as a representative of Him.  I love having his name on my plaque always above my heart. 

This last week we found 6 new investigators and two of them came to church yesterday.  Meliton also came to church with his little son.  He brought him on the bus and dropped him off in the primary.  Adrian also came to church.  His baptismal date is the 5 of Enero. 

VICTOR TORRES GOT BAPTIZED YESTERDAY!!!!!!!  Do you remember that date I set with him when I was back in El camino?!  What a champ!  I know this is a miracle. 

Friday, December 6, 2013

Emily sent us the following email on Monday, December 2, 2013.  (I'm sorry to be so late posting it on her blog!  It's December and there's SO much to do!)


Guess what!  I am going to transfer meeting tomorrow!  I actually know though that I am going to be staying in the branch and just moving to the other area.  This is going to be good.  My companion is going to be Hermana Calderon and she has a really thick Spanish accent. 


I had a miracle yesterday!  Hna Larsen and I have this investigator named Meliton and he is the cutest man ever.  It's just him and his 5 year old son.  He loves God so much and has more faith than anyone I've ever seen.  He loves to read the Bible and he writes alabanzas.  (song-praises)  He wrote one for one of the verses in the Book of Mormon. 

I met him the first time I taught the English class here and immediately fell in love with him.  We wanted to take him to the Los Angeles Temple and let him feel the spirit at the visitor center and also, they are having musical performances every day of December.  There is no better place for Meliton than the temple visitor center.  We had everything fall through last minute and we had no ride and no plan.  Randomly and half-heartedly we asked the old ward mission leader and his girlfriend if they would want to drive all of us up there in 30 minutes and minutes later we received an "esta bien".  WHOOOOO!!!!

30 minutes later we have Meliton, and a bit later we are on temple grounds.  He adored EVERYTHING!  He loved the lights and the people and the feeling.  There were trees that looked like they had fruit of life on it, so I read him some verses of 1 Nephi 8 about how the fruit, or love of God, is the most desirable above anything else. 

He loved the Christmas songs.  He wanted to know if he could find them online and put them on a CD.  They sang all classic Christmas songs, but they must've been new to him.  And I mean, he doesn't understand the words, but that is besides the point. 

I walked into the Temple Visitor Center after having almost not made it out of Santa Clarita and after meandering around the grounds with Meliton and just when we were about to leave the entrance way to walk into the back on the left,
I SEE SOMEONE WHO LOOKS EXACTLY LIKE FRANCISCA CHAVEZ walking from my right to the main entrance way.  YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  This really happened!  I stopped mid-sentence and ran to her and we hugged for so long!  We were all letting out excited noises!  And then I hugged German Grande!  I was probably breaking every rule, but It didn't matter!   Like this one event was almost more coincidental than any other event I've experienced in this mission and that statement carries weight!  30 seconds either way and we would've missed each other.  That was the first time I'd been back to the LA Temple visitor’s center since I was there with them!  That was their first time back since they'd been there with me!

German received the priesthood.  They are all doing well!  They looked happy and good!  Most of all, they looked like a Mormon family.  They came on their own and were just walking around.  They saw the 5:00 performance and somehow had been in the visitor center until almost the second performance which we were attending.  I think about them pretty much every day and it was so good to be reunited even for just that short time.  Something about being with them makes everything in the world seem happy. 

I'm sending you the picture evidence of this miracle :)

I love you all so much.  I LOVED the thanksgiving CD!  And the turkeys!  It rained here on thanksgiving and we knocked on a ton of doors!  It was wonderful.  I love singing the other parts of the rounds with you guys!  Really, you should just see the joy it brings to me. 

Also, there is a weird bear noise on one of the songs.  I'm pretty sure it is Nate, and I just want to congratulate him on his realistic bear sound.  It is the "Indians in the forest" song and it is at the second "Shhhh".  You guys should listen to it.  I get a kick out of it every time :)  So does Hna. Larsen:)  She noticed the noise first and now we wait for it.

I spent most of today trying to deep clean our apartment because they are shutting this apartment down.  They are breaking the lease early and we are turning this apartment in. 

I love you!!!

Love, Hna. Christensen

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Emily sent us the following email on Monday, November 25, 2013:

How are you doing?!  I hope you are doing well! 

This is a boy named Alex and he is totally great!  Ales is a menos activo and a recent convert.  He struggles with an obsession to Marijuana.  He is really smart and likes to write poetry.  Most of his poetry is about Marijuana or it is about God.  It's a strange combination, and you would really only get it in Alex.  

We have some successes with Alex!  He is not smoking anymore!  I know this is really hard for him and we visit him basically everyday.  Sometimes it is really short and just at the end of the night that we knock on his window and chat and laugh and share scriptures through the window. 

For Mariano's baptism, his mom didn't have any preferences or absolutely anything, so I thought it would be a cool opportunity to ask Alex to share a poem about the Holy Ghost in place of a talk.  When I asked him, I was surprised that he agreed so quickly.  He wrote it that night and then shared it at the baptism. His mom, one of our investigators, drove him to the baptism and he got up and shared it!!!!  Ahhh!!!  I was glad that it was in English and most people there only understand Spanish, but I couldn't have been more proud of him.  He wrote the poem that very night after we talked with him. 

He has a poem about prayer that is my favorite.  He said he'd write a copy for me.  I'm amazed at its depth and I will share it with you when he gives me a copy. 

And, Alex came to church yesterday!!!  He got there early and he was wearing a nice shirt and sweater vest.  He also wrote another poem about Jesus Christ and his atonement that he memorized and told us after church!  He's just tearing it up and being so righteous.  Alex looks different since he's stopped smoking too.  He seems happier and there is a noticeable light.  Forever he was in denial that Marijuana was actually a drug..don't ask me how that can be argued, but he was able to recognize (as he expressed in some lyrics in one of his poems) that whether he thinks marijuana hurts him physically is not really the question because it hurts him spiritually and takes him away from God.  

It's hard to describe how much I love Alex, but I love him a lot.  We look out for him like he is our little brother.  This picture was taken right after the baptism where he shared the poem he'd written.  I want him to go on a mission so badly because I want him to be so converted that he will never fall to the temptations of the devil.  I feel like I learn so much about conversion by talking to Alex and studying for him.  Alex is going to be my friend even after my mission.  He's such a good boy. 

You know who else I love:

Adrian has been investigating the church for quite a while.  He dropped missionaries before because they were pushy and he just didn't believe it.  His doubt has always been the Book of Mormon, which is always interesting because the Book of Mormon is the "convincing evidence" of the restoration.  We had many lessons on the Book of Mormon and I've studied a lot for him.  He accepted baptism about 2 weeks ago and he is going to be baptized on the 8th of December. 

For the longest time we couldn't figure out what was the problem, and after digging around for a bit, we found out that he was praying more in his mind than anything else, which means that he wasn't actually praying.  He was just thinking about things and counting that.  We challenged him to pray actually kneeling and out loud everyday.  It wasn't long after that that we asked him to get baptized and he said yes.  Prayer is one of the crucial ingredients to gaining a testimony.  Prayer has to be sincere and the pray-er has to be willing to act on an answer that they get.  A good example of this is Joseph Smith.  He was ready and wiling to act on any answer that he got and he got the most spectacular answer of all. 

Here's a tender success: the other day with Adrian he told us, "No puedo negar que El Libro de Momon contiene las palabras de Dios" (I can't deny that the Book of Mormon is the word of God).  And then he asked us if we would still come and visit him after his baptism.  We assured him yes and were very much more touched when he asked if when we left if we could take his number with us so that we can talk with him after the mission.  :)  Adrian is so sweet and so humble.  He has this cute little cat that he takes care of.  He is quite a logical person, but nothing makes more sense to him than that there is a God.  Now he knows the Book of Mormon is true.  I love him very much.

He came to church yesterday.  We took a picture of everyone after sacrament because yesterday was our first Sunday as a new little branch.  We were a barrio (ward) before, but then split us into two ramas (branches).  It is very good for the missionary efforts.  Now the church is so much closer and hopefully we can get people to church easier.  Also, they have combined the youth groups with the English speaking ward, so there are much more youth and the activities will be fun and attractive.  We will have a larger pool to pull kids from to be friends with our young investigators.  There weren't too many kids before.  It's crazy that it's even possible to not have very many kids, but there weren't.  Now there are kids of every age and a class even :)

Anayeli told us yesterday that she didn't think she could be baptized.  This broke my heart.  We went over to her house to figure things out and ended up teaching her mom who started crying to us.  We'd already taught her mom, but I think we're going to start more consistently now.  She told us that she was sad because she felt like her heart was hard.  I've been putting great effort into learning scripture and their location and I was immediately able to open to Alma 5:13 that talks about how when the people were preached the word of God, a great change was wrought in their hearts and they humbled themselves before God and put their trust in him.

There is hope here.  We have an apt on Tuesday at 6:00 to teach the Plan of Salvation, and we are going to take a member with us to lessons.  We've been having a hard time having a member present at lessons because so many of our lessons fall through, but this is an effort that we will start making.  I'm excited to see miracles because we are taking members with us. :)

I love you so much!  Take care this week!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Emily sent us the following email on Monday, November 18, 2013:

How are you doing?  I miss you!

I'm having a great time in Santa Clarita!  It is totally different here than in the valley.  I got into a little slump of comfort where I'd stopped approaching everyone and making friends with them.  After about a week and a half of that, I wasn't feeling right and knew that things had to change.  I knew that we needed to be finding more investigators so that we could cycle through the people that weren't progressing.  We needed to find the people that were prepared and that were perishing by the wayside.  I studied finding [How do I find people to teach?] in Preach My Gospel.  I wrote down all the things that I could pray to have help with.  (Examples: to have the courage to be bold and open my mouth, to have the faith to find, to trust that Heavenly Father would help me teach them the right thing, the spiritual sensitivity to know who to talk to, etc.)  I was actually pretty down and I had no choice but to study and pray and plan and act.  I had my list of about 10 things that I could pray for and then I would pray before either leaving the apartment or the car.  We found SO much this last week.  It was incredible.  I didn't passively walk past people, but I stopped every person and chased after some people.  The lady we chased after in Jakes way (Tina)  told us that she knew she needed to give more time to the Lord and loved the story of the restoration and wanted us to come over to her house Friday to explain it more.  She shared two little sandwiches she had that she was bringing home from work with her.  She is one of our new investigators. 

The man at night that was checking the mail box--His name is Miguel.  He was very impressed that two blancas could speak Spanish.  We joked about the mail, flossing (he works as a dental assistant) (Yes, I have the flossing technique/gospel analogy) and then he invited us to sit on his porch with him and tell us the difference between Catholic beliefs and Mormon beliefs.  About twice he told us that he was Catholic because his parents were and that is how he was born.  We taught him the Restoration (our unique message as latter day saints).  He was really curious to have a Libro De Mormon once I'd told him that was the gift of God to us letting all his children know that Joseph Smith was chosen by Him to lead and guide us.  Miguel is a new investigator. 

Once Heavenly Father knew that we were going to be diligent and talk to everyone in our path, he knew it wouldn't be wasted efforts to put people that were prepared into our paths.  It's cool how there are things that you can do to gain the trust of Heavenly Father.  Let me give you some examples.  And they all almost have to do with being diligent. 
  • If Heavenly Father knows that you will always be obedient, then he knows he can trust you and he can set up situations that you will fall into by being obedient.
  • If you humble yourself and just do roleplaying, then Heavenly Father knows that he can trust you with investigators because He knows that you truly care for them and will take the time to prepare for them.  (role playing is like cutting around a grapefruit for someone: a true act of love)
  • If Heavenly Father knows that you will go where you planned you would be the night before, then he can have someone else in that general vicinity even if the person you think you are looking for isn't there.  (we could probably be better at this one)
  • If you promise to talk to everyone you see, he will open your spiritual eyes and let you see the one that needs your message.  
  • If you study preach my gospel, opportunities will present themselves throughout the day for you to use the things you learned.  He is showing you that he is in control.  
Man, it's just so cool!  There is a lot of repenting (changing) I need to do!  I repented during sacrament yesterday and recommitted myself to being a more diligent and trustworthy agent for God!  I love that he lets us start fresh in his eyes every week and doesn't hold things against us.  I'm trying very hard to make Him proud and let him know that he can trust me.  I'm trying to show him that I will treasure up the things of Him so that when called upon, things can come into my memory.  I'm trying to be his tool, and that brings me such great joy. 

Ok, I have got to tell you about Anayeli!  I love this little girl so much!  Anayeli is such a sweet girl.  she is only 14 years old, but if you met her you would think she was at least 16.  She has a difficult life.  She is always sacrificing for everyone around her.  She hurries home from school so that she can be there to help take care of her nieces because her sister leaves her kids there and goes out.  She spends the time she has with them.

She has a baptismal date for the 1st of December.  She is acting in faith to find more comfort and strength in her life. 

The other day we taught her the word of wisdom.  It was SUCH a cool lesson.  We talked about how Satan wants people to fall and he wants to cut off their communication with Dios.  When fighting a war, the enemy knows that the best chance they have to overtake the others is to cut off their communication.  That is exactly what Satan tries to do with us.  He will do anything he can to keep us from having that connecting, unifying communication with Heavenly Father.  The second that we choose to break the Word of Wisdom and put a drop of anything into our body, instantly, we forfeit the presence of the Holy Ghost.  When our bodies are drunk or high, it acts as a barrier in between our spirits and Dios.  Because our spirits have to dwell in these mortal bodies and be subject to all consequences of being human, we have to work hard to keep our spiritual receptiveness up. 

Anayeli would've had a different childhood if she'd had parents that had lived the Word of Wisdom.  When we taught her this law she cried.  I asked her if she could see why God had given us this law and if she thought it was from him.  She said that she could tell it was from him. 

The Word of Wisdom is a law of health from God.  It is supposed to keep us healthy physically and spiritually.  There might be things that we don't think will hurt us physically, and maybe they won't, but that is really beside the point.  They hurt us spiritually and there is no way around that.  We also have the Word of Wisdom to show that we are going to be obedient.  If none of these benefits even existed and it wasn't a commandment from God, the Word of Wisdom alone, would still save many marriages.  I told Anayeli that she will be able to marry someone in the temple that will keep the Word of Wisdom.  With that she will know that her husband will not spend money on drugs, get drunk and be mean to her or her kids, waste time bumming around, leave her to go smoke with his buddies.  If nothing else, the Word of Wisdom is meant to save marriages and help people live up to their privilege as children of God.  Drugs rob you of real happiness and leave you empty.  She's young, but not that young and she's seen a lot of things.  Now she is more aware of the adversary and his tactics.  We have another set of eyes that we can open to see that we have the choice to either follow God or to let the adversary have his way.  Ana's eyes are opening and it is so cool to see her seeing this life for the test that it is.  I feel like my eyes are opening to this too. 

I felt prompted to tell her that all the things she was learning right now were because she would have people put into her life that would need her and they would need her to help them with the knowledge that she was learning from the Holy Ghost right then. 

She told us that she felt something.  That it was warm.  Like a hug.

Emily also sent this photo with the caption, "I built this temple."  It appears to be quite a feat of engineering!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

We received an email from Emily on Monday, November 5, 2013:

Dear familia,

You made my Halloween so much fun!  I love how creative you are and everything you sent me appeals perfectly to me!  I basically turn the glowing pumpkins on every night and enjoy them.  We are going to make the cookies today.  (We need to make them soon or I am going to have eaten all the chocolate chips before we get to cookie time.  How did you know I love the big chocolate chips? ;))  We listen to the Halloween CD on repeat in the car anytime we go anywhere.  I love my new companion very, very much.  She basically knows all our Halloween songs :)  She is from Idaho, but she lived in Utah before she came.  She is one year older and she went to 3 years of college before the mission.  She was in my first MTC group.  You would probably see a picture of her in my MTC district, the first time around.  I already told Hna. Larsen that I have a Thanksgiving song to teach her that we can sing as a round.  She laughed and said she is excited.  Also, she is celebrating Harry Potter month with me.  ha! :)  It's wonderful!

I love being here and I love what I am doing.  I've been using the Atonement to feel more joy and not rely on people besides Christ.  Also, knowing that I have the best family in the world fills me full.  I love our family and all the members in it.  I know if we have our family that I have everything and more that I need to be happy.  :)  The love and support that I get from you means so much and sustains me.  I wish I was able to show you that more.  I read you letters multiple times and laugh at all the funny parts.  I miss your personality and I am so grateful for how you take care of me. 

It has been getting really cold here.  Freezing cold.  We freeze like every night.  Skirts!  We might try to go and buy some tights today or something.  We'll have to see what we can find.  I don't know how much of a good job they'll really do, but we need to try.  Maybe I need to get leggings instead..  We're going to go investigate our options because it's only going to get colder from here on out. 

I took that recording device and I am going to try to record on it and mail it to you and tell you some things.  Basically this is because it was so good for me to hear your voices on the CD you sent me, and so I thought I'd try to return the favor a tiny bit.  Oh, I love the CD.  I will literally listen to it for the next 14 months of my mission and after that.  Feel free to send me CDs with songs whenever you like!   Here is the thing about the recorder.  I'll probably just have to record it when we are driving in the car or something because we don't really have down time ever.  So it's not awkward, I'll probably have Hna. Larsen included in on the conversation and we can both tell you the story of this week. You'll get to see a lot of her personality from the recording.  I'll also have her tell you a bit about herself!  I think it'll be cool.

We're going to go, but we might be in Newhall tonight to use their computers to create baptism invitations for Mariano  and so I will probably check my email a little later today.  Thanks so much for everything.

I love you:)

Until later, love, Emma

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Emily sent a short email and some photos yesterday, October 28, 2013.  She has been transferred to a new area but I don't have her current mailing address yet.  I will post it when I do.

Dear familia,

They moved me to Santa Clarita Primero.  I am in the Santa Clarita Valley.  I am living in Canyon Country.  This is the whitest part of the mission.  My companion is named Hermana Larsen.  She was in the MTC with me, so that means that she has exactly the same amount of time in the field as I do.  She just barely finished being trained.  She was in my first district at the MTC (the one I was a part of for 4 days).  Her Spanish and my Spanish are actually about the same right now.

I am in a car and I really like it.  It feels so luxurious to drive to the places we need to go.  It is nice to have the climate controlled.  I love the place we are living.  It feels like a little cabin and I feel really safe living here.  I have been having a hard time this week because it doesn't seem like any other companionship in the mission is accustomed to working as hard as Hna. Pulver and I worked, and I still felt like we could've done more.  My new companion and I are going to do good things here, and we're going to turn things around.  I'm excited. 

Love, Hna. Emilia

The following pictures were taken at the ward Halloween party prior to Emily's transfer last Tuesday: 
This is Adrianna (the lady I told you about last time) and her little kids.

I loved the primary president (center).  She sure was spunky.

Ashlee Trujillo.  She was my favorite little girl from the ward.  Her mom did so much for everyone. 

This is one of our zone leaders: Elder Wood.  He was really nice to me.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Emily sent the following email yesterday--Monday, October 21, 2013:

Hey familia!!

This was unexpected.  We got the word Saturday night:
I will be leaving El Camino Real.  I don't know where I will be going.  I will go to the transfer meeting Tuesday morning and see where they send me.  I didn't think that I would be leaving here for at least the next 5 months.  We were pretty dang sure Hna. Pulver would be leaving so we prepared for me to be here by myself and got everything in order.  When you don't even kind of mentally prepare for things like this, they hit you pretty hard.  I've been crying since we got the call.  Every time I see people, it could be one of the last times.  I do know that I will be going to a car area.  They will take my bike to the shed that the mission has.  If you send anything in the mail, send it to the mission home address or wait until I  can tell you where I am sent.  Some people think I will go to Recita, others are thinking Santa Clarita.  I suppose Arleta is an option.  Wow.  

We had the most fun Halloween party!  Something really controversial in the Hispanic culture is whether or not dia de los brujas (Halloween) is celebrated.  The direct translation is 'day of the witches' and I totally think I'm adopting that name instead.  We had to announce it in la sociodad de socorro and when we did Hna. Cabrera said we don't celebrate Halloween and that was about the end of that announcement.  We texted all our investigators and futures we've found to first see if they celebrate the holiday before telling them we have an activity.  We got a lot of texts back from people that do not approve of celebrating Halloween.  Eulogio Chic responded that people that celebrate the holiday don't know Jesus Christ.  Yes.  There are strong feelings.  But also, it is not quite as innocent of a holiday here.  Our curfew is 7:00 like Peter was thinking.  Since it will fall on a Thursday and Thursday is weekly planning, it will just happen during the hours after 7:00 until we have to go to bed.  

I have had my testimony built by a lot of the really good people here.  First of all, we had sweet Francisca come with us to a lesson with Victor Torrez.  Victor worked as a bartender and he drinks 3 cups of coffee a day.  He was going to be baptized quite soon, but when we did the word of wisdom lesson we had to reevaluate the date.  He actually is incredible.  He wants to be baptised and he wants to overcome his habit.  This really is so rare and cool.  We set his baptism date for December 8th.  Francisca used to drink about that much coffee daily, and her husband overcame drinking.  She was nervous to come with us only 2 days after her baptism, but she encouraged him and told him that it all was possible.  It really touched me.  Really it was a lesson to let Francisca realize what she knew.  She told Torrez that her husband overcame his drinking problem with the help of a blessing.  We should get Torrez a blessing pretty soon.  It was cool because we set the dates for him to be at certain progress points and had him write down his goals in the back of the word of wisdom foyetto.  

(To answer your question about Alfredo, he more or less dropped us.  He was so close and then he texted us and told us that he didn't want to be Mormon.  This could be partly because we talked about baptisms for the dead or because it became necessary for Hna. Pulver to tell him that we both had boyfriends.  Neither of us do so it was really uncomfortable telling him this.  I can't lie and neither can Hna. Pulver so when she delivered the line her face was just a ridiculous grin the whole time.  It got worse when she told him that her boyfriend was serving in Omaha (her boyfriend is her little brother) because sometimes less is more.  Luckily the giggles could've been passed off as giddy school girl love.  We really should've roll played this one first.. ;) It was kind of a priceless moment.  We've been trying to make contact with him.  He seems to see us every time we go to his work (He works at Marlene's building).  Sometimes he texts us and tells us he's seen us.  We think he watches the cameras for us.  We basically have to run through the garage doors when they open to get into the building every time.  I don't want to make him sound totally creepy.  He's just lonely and I think he feels like he should be married by 30.  I don't know what will happen with him after we leave.  When we text him he usually tells us that he is triste (sad) or that he misses us.  I think he will come around and get comfortable with it again.  I have hope in this category.)

Javier, another really recent convert came with us to a lesson.  We taught Delfino (who is creepy and difficult), and Javier was wonderful.  When Javier shakes our hands he almost does this little bow thing.  He is a faith giant.  When we would ask Delfino questions and he would pretend not to understand them, Javier would help and ask the questions and explain them to him.  Javier has a testimony of really asking and really wanting to know.  He was able to explain to Delfino what the spirit feels like.  He told him that when you ask, you really really really got to want to know the answer and you just gotta pray to him and really want to know and...  He has a lot of conviction about this principle and it was cool to see him trying so hard to express his testimony.  We really do get more answers when we are asking and it is not a passive question, but we really really want to know.  It is hard to ask with that much desire and sincerity when we feel happy or stable in life.  It's almost like we are pushed that far into our desire to know by hard times.  

So for the little ward "October fest" Hna. Pulver and I did exactly what you suggested and we dressed up as each other.  We were on our way to a blitz when we read your letter and laughed because we'd already done just that.  Victor Torrez came to the activity with his little beasty son and his cute daughter and then her cousin.  After I had been running around being victor's friend, Hno. Jesus Lopez came over and befriended him.  Hno. Jesus Lopez is such a great guy.  He came with us to some lessons and he just showed up on his bike and followed us.  It was wonderful.  And then Hna. Anderson's bike got a flat and he paid for them to fix her tire (It was one day that I was with her instead).    

We did root beer and dry ice and hung little white powdered doughnuts from string and the kids loved it.  We kinda had the rootbeer overflow and I think the kids tracked doughnuts all through the church so they probably won't ever let missionaries have a booth again, but really it was quite great. And no one had ever seen dry ice before!  I was very impressed with the spook alley that they set up IN THE CHURCH.  HAHAHAHA This really shouldn't have happened in the church building, but it was totally fun!  (I have some pictures of this I will email you)

I love Hermana Trujillo and her daughter Ashlee!  She had us come to another Noche de Hogar at her house yesterday.  These are almost becoming a fun little tradition with her.  We thought it would just be her and Adrianna at the beginning, but when we called her and asked who all was going to be there she told us "bastante!" and started listing them all off!  Hna. Pulver and I are pretty good brainstromers and we ended up biking about 30 Libros de Mormon to her house.  First we had people write down a question they wanted answered.  Then we taught them how to use the topical guide and find a scripture that might help someone.  This was my favorite time.  I just watched people look through the scriptures.  I almost plan all the Family home evenings that we do there for Hna. Trujillo's husband.  He doesn't come to church and I love her so much and want her to have the support of her husband.  She does so much for the ward and she has some different challenges.  She went through the temple just this last week.  We've been looking forward to this for a while.  People helped each other find scriptures and some people had their fingers in lots of different pages comparing the verses.  It was super super cool.  We had them mark the scripture they found and told them when we gave away that specific libro that we would share the scripture they found.   We went around and every person (even all the kids) shared the scripture that they had found on whatever topic.  We told people to think about the questions they had asked God and see if he wouldn't answer them.  It was really cool and Hna. Albarracin pretty much cried the whole time.  I was so proud of Hno. Trujillo.  He shared the Lord's prayer.  I watched him search for a scripture for a long time.  He read a lot of the guia and probably more verses in el libro de mormon than he has in a while.  

Adrianna is a sweet friend of Hna. Mayella Trujillo.  Hna. Trujillo called us the other day and asked us to come to her house to teach Adrianna.  It was probably the most spiritual lesson we've ever taught.  We happened to be fasting because we needed extra strength for our lesson with Mercedez and Vianney that night, but I think we actually fasted for that lesson.  When she came into Hna. Trujillo's house and we asked her how she was, she just started to cry.  She is so sweet and needs the comfort and support that the gospel gives.  She loved us and came to the Halloween activity the next day.  She dressed up as a witch :)

Hna. Chanchavoc is such a sweet, hilarious, gentle, generous woman.  She lives right under German and Francisca.  Last night we were at Hna. trujillo's after our lesson and there was a group gospel discussion that got going.  It was mostly lead by Hno. Albarracin.  He started talking to Adrianna. She was crying and he was telling her things.  Hna. Chanchavoc bore her testimony and told her how she was a single woman without a husband and she had kids just like Hna. Tzun who lives with her.  They told her that everyone there was all one big family and they would be there for her if she needed anything.  I love the strength and goodness that Hna. Chanchavoc has.  She had us come to dinner at her house this last week and told us that if ever we need to eat we can always come to her house and eat.  Then she told us this dicho: cuando come uno, come dos y cuando comen dos, comen tres.  Basically the saying is that when one eats, two eat and when two eat, three eat.  She is so cute when she smiles.  She has a good sense of humor.  
When I left the Noche de Hogar last night, it was really hard to leave all the wonderful women of the El Camino Real Barrio.  I asked Hna. Trujillo and Hna. Chanchavoc to take care of German and Francisca and they promised me that they would and Hna. Trujillo pinky promised me <3

Saying good bye to the Chavez's was really hard.  I know we can be reunited in one year when they go through the temple and I can see all the ward members then.  Francisca came and kept holding my hands and rubbing them.  German was trying not to be teary.  He talked to us about how we were different from all the other missionaries that they have ever had at their house.  They have had a lot.  He told us how he loved that we were generous with our time and that we were patient with them and gave them all the time that they needed.  He said that the two of us, and one other missionary that they had, treated them like that.  Before we left they woke Erick up so he could come out. He came out and I did my Erick-handshake with him.  He left the room for a second and then he was pretty much directed back out by his dad.  He walked over right in from of me and said, "Thank you for all you've done for me" and then he started to shake and get emotional.  His older brother was so confused as to what was happening and thought it was really awkward that Erick was about to cry, but I thought it was really sweet. I comforted him and told him that I would miss him and that I would see him again and it got to where his mom took him into the kitchen to get him some water to drink.  It was really sweet and really sad.  Francisca even told me that they would come to church at whatever area they transferred me to so we could see each other again.  Dad, you're right.  This is a friendship that will last a lot longer than this life.  I gave them the mission home address so they can write me and they also have our home address.  

I love you all so much.  

Over and out!

Love, Hna. Christensen
Mercedez y Vianney.   They are so wonderful.

Hna. Pulver and me celebrating Halloween as each other!

They are wearing each other's clothes and they swapped name tags. :)

Monday, October 14, 2013

We received this email from Emily today, Monday, October 14, 2013:

Hey familia :)

The first councilor in our ward is named Hermano Ramirez and he is so cool.  He is ostentatious and has a bold personality.  I think he lives at the church.  I have gotten to know him more lately, and I find him to be incredible.  He is so humble and works so hard.  He really is at the church all the time and we found him once after he'd slept on the little couch here because he volunteer teaches seminary at like 5:00 in the morning.  He has more energy than anyone I've ever seen and he is always injecting that energy and fun into the endless activities that he is planning.  He works and wears himself out everyday for the Lord and for this gospel.  Something was mentioned and they said that he lived just down the street from Christian which means that he lives in Tiawana (that's just what they call it) which is where the poorest of the poor live.  He is so confident and involved I assumed he had money, but also, he is employed by the church and has 9 kids and they are very careful, but I think they are having a hard time paying for things.  I was really touched when I found this out because of his work ethic and attitude and devotion.  

Sweet German and Francisca made it into the waters of baptism!  Completely willingly I might add ;)  There were times when I thought we'd practically have to drown German.  

German and Francisca arrived and we walked them in.  German had purchased a suit to wear after his baptism.  The elders surprised him with a green tie because verde es su color favorito :)  Francisca had some pretty braids in her hair.  We got them all in their white clothes and as they were sitting and waiting for us to start German kept getting little tears in his eyes.  He was pretty scared and nervous.  

I've learned a lot from watching German.  His follow through with baptism is very impressive because of all that he had to overcome to get to that point.  Also, he definitely understands the seriousness of making covenants.  I think he even puts more emphasis on it than is really healthy.  He is now a covenanted man and he knows it and he wants that.  This touches me.  He is ready and willing to live every single thing.  When we went to his house the next day he asked me if it was ok for him to give the people who had provided the food afterward another installment of the payment even though it was the sabbath.  Of course this was ok, and I assured him of that, but I could see that had I said 'no' he wouldn't have even though it needed to be done.  He has put God as his number one priority and I don't know how many other faithful long time members of the church have even gotten to this point.  I love him very much.  He is so full of goodness.  He is the example the Savior would use to talk about a man that has come to him in full humility and will never turn away.  I know you will have a chance to meet German one day.  I think it would be so cool if they could visit the temple in SLC some day.  

After the confirmations on Sunday we went over to their house and talked about the priesthood with him.  It was cool because Tara Prince called them while we were right there around their table with them!  I heard her voice on speaker for a minute.  

When we were leaving we hugged them a lot and German shook our hands and told us how grateful he was for all we did for him.  He thanked us for no abandonarnos.  He held our hands and tears started coming to his eyes and running down his face.  (I know it sounds like he cries a lot, but he really doesn't cry ever.  There is just a lot of meaningful things happening to him right now)  I cried too because I will miss not seeing them as much as we do.  I have such a bond with them and I love them so deeply.  German thanked us for our time and support.  He told us we could always come to them if we needed anything.  They had us write our names in their hymn book so they can always know us.  He told us that we were always welcome there.  The best part is that he told us we weren't just missionaries to them and we weren't like ward members to them.  He told us that we were family.  I know that I will get to see them after this life and I know they will make it.  They are going to be sealed as a family in the temple in a year.  I can actually go to that because I was the missionary that was with them for their baptism.  

I love you all very much and I am praying for you.  I know that I have the best family in the world.  Peter, Heidi, me, Sam, Skib, and Nate.  We are so blessed <3

Brazos y besos, 
Hna. Christensen  

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Emily said her companion, Hermana Pulver, "hammered" out such a thorough week in review, that she just wanted to send it to us as her report also this week.  Hermana Pulver has been a wonderful companion for Emily and Emily loves her.  So here is Hermana Pulver's report as of October 7, 2013:

VIctor Torres:  We've been teaching him for about 2 months.  here's his story. Day 1, 2 , or 3 in this area, I don't really remember,  We don't have bikes and so we're walking home late at night (sorry mom, ya gotsta work til 9 no matter what)  anyway so we live in the ghetto right?  so we're walking home and a little nervous so walking pretty fast.  We see a girl behind us walking home alone.  We talk to her and walk her to her apartment to make sure she gets home safely.  We then go back and follow up on her a few days later.  We end up teaching the whole family.  They all seem pretty interested.  Over time the kids aren't as interested, the Dad "Victor" is so interested.  he came to church last week. Then we set a date with him on Tuesday for the 20th of Oct. and then yesterday he drove himself to watch conference at the stake center, watched the first session and then drove home.   He is so ready for the gospel.

Rene:  I don't know if yall remember Rene.  He is sick!! He texted us the first 2 weeks here and we didn't know him, so we were kind of wary when we met him.  He met the missionaries about 4 months ago.  Hna Vila saw him sitting there with a cigarette and a beer and invite him to hear a message of Christ.  He dumped the beer and threw away the cigarette and listened.  Well he ended up going to prison for possession of drugs.  He texted us when he got out.  We taught him 5-6 times and had a date and he dropped off the earth.  well he contacted us a week ago.  He moved and changed numbers, so we did a transition lesson to move him to the sisters, but he is so ready.  He promised hna vila he'd give this church a chance first and he's committed to it.  He has had people bash on the church and also tell him to come to theirs and he says I'm not trying anything until I know if this church is true or not.  He's so ready!! 

English Class:  Well we're out riding our bikes cleaning up the ward list.  We ride past this couple and I notice they have papers and books their studying or reading.  We ride back by 20 minutes later and their still there.  I flip the bike around and ask them if they are teaching themselves english (at this point they had a friend there too).  They say no but they want to learn.  I say perfect because we are teaching a free english class that they should come to and invite them and leave it at that.  Well their friend shows up to english class and I think, well we'll never see that couple again.  bring...bring...bring... Goes the telephone on thursday night.  We answer.  Hi we met you yesterday and you invited us to your english class.  We were wondering if you could come over to our house and teach you about your church. Yes we can come over, when would you like us to come over, whenever you can works for us.  Today at 4?  Perfect Les esperamos.  (we'll wait for you).  We go and he starts just asking us all these questions "when you baptize is it in the the name of the father the son and the holy ghost or just Jesus Christ" is it all the way under the water?'  What do you believe about the trinity?  We tell him we will answer all his questions as we teach what we have prepared for them.  We teach them the restoration. They agree to be baptized (they didn't come to church so we have to reset the date) After the closing prayer, i asked him a question and he goes on talking about how he's felt hopeless and alone, but when we were there it was gone.  He felt good.  When we prayed  and talked he felt a presence descend on him and it made him feel vulnerable and want to cry but it is good. We go back and teach them the next day the plan of salvation with a member.  at the beginning we asked him what is God's plan for us.  He basically explains the whole plan of salvation before we even teach him anything.  They're so ready.  English class works.  As does talking to everyone!

Wanna hear about my insane conference saturday:
SO we've been teaching Albert.  This old man in a wheelchair thats homeless and might be a drug lord.  Well he didn't answer 5 phone calls that we made to him in the morning so we got on our bikes and headed off to conference.  We're about 1/2 way there a bit over a mile when we see his wheelchair.  I slam on the brakes.   Hna Christensen about runs into me haha  (I slam on my brakes a lot the poor girl...)  He's asleep.  We wake him up and say Albert we're going to church come on.  He gets up and gets in the wheelchair.  The session has now already begun.  SO what do we do.  Hna Christensen takes the 2 bikes.  and runs.  I get behind him in his wheelchair and run.  About a mile later we're at the church.  We push him in and sit down.  I realize I'd lost my sweater on the way here running and so after the session we decide to rebike our journey and see if we find it.  Sure enough we do.  Its right on the side of the sidewalk.  I put it on my waist.  We're heading to give the english class couple 2 libros de mormon when we pass a farmers market.  We'd passed it on the way with Albert and he said he'd buy us food after the session there.  Then we pass it to get the sweater, and then again to go to Lopez to give them the Book of Mormon.  Before my mission it was my plans to go to the farmers markets in my areas and contact there.  I know heavenly father knows what I'm attracted to in life and will work through that to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.  So we go to the farmers market.  Literally the smallest farmers market of my life.  There's a station with good bread though, so of course we check it out.  We talk to the guy running the bread booth and he's 23, a baker, a WWF fighter, used to coach track, and used to be a Jehovah's witness.  Well we talk about God religion.  Womens roles in society, etc.  I even brought the conversation back to the bread and he days "man we're in this deep conversation and you ask about bread?"  and keeps talking about religion.  We talk about the restoration with and emphasis on prophets.  and tell him he can hear the prophet speak at conference at 5 that night or on Sunday.  He takes the pamphlets, says he'll try, and thanks us so much.  He said "I just have this good feeling now"  thank you for coming, people aren't like you two, especially around our age" you two have purpose and drive" we end up buying 2 loaves of bread and head off.  Well we're about a block away and realize that the farmers market was just about ending.  We send him a text and invite him to come watch the conference at the chapel at 1.  He says  "Hi.  Would love to come. Ill be done at market by 1:30.  Would it be ok if I came late?  I don't want to disrespect anyone by doing so..." We tell him to come and let us know when he gets there, of course in a loving a kinder way.  HE shows up around 2; we slip him a paper and pencil for notes and he and sits down and watches the last hour with us. He says is it ok if I ask you a few questions.  WE say definitely.  He asks what is the sacrament?  they kept talking about it and i don't know what it means.  what motivation is bad for going to church?  is it bad if I go to church because I don't want to go to hell?" we then reply with how any reason is a good reason and how our motivations change over time, like our conversion to God that we talked about at the farmers market.  He asks is it against your religion to wrestle?  I grew up Jehovahs Witness but my friends, now that I'm doing this, they won't talk to me.  He says I just feel so good here.  Its crazy to that I came, because I kept doubting coming.  but when you two left, the business flipped around and I sold everything.  THen I was like ok i need some caffeine and so if there's a 7-11 on the way I'll go. (sure enough there was one on the corner).  Just like little things kept pointing me to coming.   I'm usually sleeping right now because I'm up working at night, but I feel so awake it's so weird.  I feel so good. It's like this weird feeling I've never felt before.  Those are all my questions though.  The rest that I wrote down is crazy stuff.  LIke I've been having questions and stuff, but they answered what I've been thinking about.  It's crazy.  It was like they were talking right to me.  
           CRAZY RIGHT!!! SO we got in contact with the english ysa and sent his information to them within about 20 minutes and he's in their hands now.  It's so cool because he is so ready!! and we met him like a 1/2 hr -hr earlier.  Talking with EVERYONE works!! and what surprises me is how almost everyone wants to talk about God and Religion.
            This week is German and Francescas baptism on Saturday.  Then Alfredos on Sunday ( the security guard) the next week is Torres on the 20th.  I'll tell you what Satan is working hard against us, but more than that God is working in the hearts of men to bring them to him.  People are being prepared all around us and all we have to do is open our mouths.