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!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Emily sent us the following email and pictures on Tuesday, October 21, 2014:

*big sigh....
somehow I made it until this day.  Yesterday we had interviews with the royal man [i.e. President Hall].  He is so great!  I don't exactly know what we talked about because it was just 10 minutes, but he told me to enjoy the time I have left and be careful about setting too high of goals that aren't possible to finish in my amount of time.  He told me that we want to do more than good, but that we want to be good.  I am going to spend probably the majority of my time studying and really trying to make sure that i acquire attributes of Christ.  (PMG 6)

I told him I didn't ever want to stop being a missionary.  He told me that that would change.  I cried.  And then he gave me a hug.  I love the president.  

Wow!  Sounds like you [Peter] and Skib had a really fun daddy-daughter adventure!  I really liked the picture of both of you :)  I like being off about "my Father's Work"  it's really nice.  And probably to other people, I've dropped off the face of the earth and I am lost somewhere in California.  I am feeling good about the things that I am doing.  It's true that my teaching and finding skills should be the best right now that they've been up until this point because I've been out for the most amount of time, but I've learned that God really is the one that supplies the miracles and so sometimes it is when we feel like we should have the most success that we have a major trial of our faith.  We are doing really well, but we need to be diligent with our daily contact and bold with our invitations.  We  are having such a great moment in our missions.

German and Francisca finally have a date to enter into the temple.  It took so much work to get to this point because first German had some fears and inadequacies he had to understand, and then there was the coordinating to get him the priesthood and take those classes and then the classes for the temple.  they still haven't started those, but after being persistent, our matter was treated, and they are going to make sure they come 2 times a week to receive the classes so that they can enter in the temple on the 29th of november.  Francisca is excited to find a white dress that she can wear.  We are going to go look at Burlington Coat factory after we email because....well hopefully we can find a dress there. I don't know what they can afford, but I don't think it will be very much.  We are going to see if we can talk to enough friends in the ward and put together a pot luck reception so that they can have food without that being another expense for them.  YAYY!!  IT is going to happen!

The familia Higuerra is about the cutest thing you've ever seen.  The three little kids are going to get baptized on the 2 of November.  The smallest one, Abraham, is about the most precious little thing you've ever seen.  We had a wonderfully fun and humorous lesson with them.  We taught them the plan of Salvation and the older brother was there too.  He has left the church and is only there on weekends.   He asked some insightful questions, which showed that he feels the spirit when we are there and knows we are sharing truths.  He wanted to know if you could move kingdoms after judgement.  After clarifying his question, we answered it.  I think the straightforwardness of 'no' caught everyone a little off guard.  (Don't worry; it was appropriate)  :)  We asked Abraham if he wanted to follow Jesus.  He nodded and said yes.  We asked him why.  I don't think his siblings will let him live down getting a little choked up when he answered that it was because he wanted to go to Heaven instead of Hell. 

This family loves the movies and it was all I could do to keep reverent when hna asked them if they know where where the spirits go after death...Shebalba!

I know that every one has to have some large challenge.  I don't know exactly what it will be for this family.  Maybe that the mom isn't quite ready to come and be really active in the church.  Or maybe she kinda is.  She is a mystery.  I know the dad is worried that the older son is too set in his ways that he won't listen to us.  He should've been pleasantly surprised by how interested his son was.  He wouldn't agree to read the scripture with the rest of his family, but he did agree to pray and smiled when we committed him to pray for the desire to read in the scriptures.  

The whole family has such good manners.  The older son, (Emanuel or Manny; almost 21 years old) walked us out to our car.  When you come, we'll have to make sure we visit them at night because it is so much more fun and creepy and halloweeny to make your way to where they live.  There are a lot of people here in California that have some pretty strange ideas.  A trendy idea that many will latch onto is that religion in general is a government conspiracy.  We talked to manny and by the end of our conversation, he understood the BOM and the clarity of our message and agreed to read it!

We had another marvelous lesson with Mauricio.  He is already reading 1 nefi 13 and his comprehension is incredible!

We spend the majority of yesterday doing role plays with the missionaries as they came to have interviews.  

We spent the majority of Saturday setting up for a wedding.  It blew my mind how much works goes into just doing the simplest things!  The bride was very happy to be married after many years of living with her husband and kids.  

Sunday was super great!  The Higuerra family came and was sooo excited to see us!  Walter Madrid kept his promise and somehow made it to the church!  He didn't make it with his family, but we need to celebrate that he made it!  Walter is so funny!  He has a very childlike ability to seem pleased with simple things.  He kept appearing pleasantly surprised that he was at church and around lots of other nice people.  Someone stood up in Relief Society and cried because 2 angels (hna y yo) had come to her house and helped her and her family set some goals (ward mission plan).  It was just  a good Sunday!

Romonita had a lesson and we invited the bishop.  That went well.  she is thinking about getting married to Jorge in January.  We'll have to try to get that to happen much sooner!

I went on another great exchange with Hna. Glauser!  She is one of the cutest, sweetest, most incredible girls.  She is always giving to others.  She is such a hard worker.  I feel like she has really worked to be able to treat others and love others like Christ would.  Spending time with her was a huge blessing for me.  

Is there anything else i need to answer...... :)  I love you guys!  

BESOS, Hermana Christensen
Above & Below:  These pictures are from the first exchange I went on last week.

Above & Below:  These are the two cutest boys ever!  The first one is Carlitos and the second one is Abraham!

This is a picture of Hna. Glauser from my second exchange.  

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

We received the following email from Emily on Tuesday, Oct. 14, 2014:

Hey mom and dad, 

This has been a very exciting week!  
We had an exorcism of sorts with this woman that has been having weird things happening in her house.  

I finally just created a ward mission plan because it has been in the works ....well, all year.  In coordination I proposed that we have a ward mission plan that consists of every family having nightly family prayer, scripture study, and weekly family home evening.  It was pretty cool a few days later in General Conference when Elder Richard G. Scott gave a talk about the ward mission plan I'd proposed.  All the members in my district were looking at each other and giving each other spiritual fist pumps on the inside.  This is going to work.  It is going to protect this ward.  I'm in the process of typing it up and figuring out the presentation, but I'll send you a copy when I get it all done.  The strength of the church isn't based on how many members there are, but rather on the individual conversion of each member.  I told you that I love El Camino Real and that I will never let this ship sink, and that will forever be true.  

I know I tell you all the time about my testimony of Family Home Evening and I am proud of you guys for faithfully making sure that happens.  We need to do it like it is a matter of breaking the commandments or keeping the commandments.  Family Home Evening has to be a non-negotiable priority.  I love our family too much to have us not doing this.  I promise it will keep bringing blessings.  

Wow.  Mauricio.  BEST STREET CONTACT EVER.  We taught him on the spot (probably 30 min).  The lesson was so good.  I learned things about what I was teaching.  I loved feeling the clarity of God starting every dispensation by calling a profet.  The first time Mauricio broke the trend is when he commented "I did't know that happened" after we explained that the church of Jesus Christ was lost.  That showed that he was intelligent and with it and comprehending and comparing what he was hearing to what he knew.  We had a phone lesson with him the next day. He'd read about Joseph Smith online, but thank goodness nothing too bad and he accepted our explanations for everything else, but not because he was ignorant, but because he was humble.  When we were on the phone, we had a movie moment.  He told us he had a question.  We asked him what he wanted to know.  Clearly he asked, "Donde puedo consequirme un Libro De Mormon?" (Where can I get a book of mormon).  This is not a question you have to ask missionaries twice. 

I have had 2 of the most fun nights of my mission this last week. I have started calling the things that we do adventures.  They are unexpected and you gotta just roll with the waves.  We took the DAvila couple out with us on a missionary adventure.  None of the lessons worked, but there was such a spirit of camaraderie as we laughed and walked down Saticoy at night headed to find our investigators.  Hna. DAvila and Hno. DAvila are the cutest!  She is so innocent and spunky and honest.  Everything that comes to her mind she just says.  You would never have to worry about her because she is too instant to forgive and quick to love.  Her husband is so cute and a little more quiet.  They are such faithful people.  We committed them to live the ward mission plan and be examples for the other members in the ward.  I told them that they were so faithful and people looked to them.  It is going to be hard for them because all of their kids are a little older, but none of them are interested in the church.  Ella dijo, "como fieles (entonces), tenemos que hacerlo"  (in a self realizing way, realizing what was required of her) We are the faithful, so, we must do it. 

I went on my first exchange this week with Hna. Vega!  That was such an adventure being back on bike in my first area.  That area is still magic for me.  It is so crazy and hectic and people touch you and you are really living it all.  It is a completely different mission being on bike versus being in a car.  For me bike was the real deal.  I got to ride sherman way home in the dark to my old oso apartment.  We saw miracles on our exchange.  We didn't have a member for a lesson and then after we had tried all our options, we were walking to the appointment and we found Francisca Chavez, just returned from work.  We invited her to come with us.  She was sick, but told us if we could wait a minute, she could change and come with us.  We were trying to show the restoration video to Adriana (do you remember me mentioning her to you about a year ago?  I found her with Hermana pulver the day we were fasting...?  It was about the most spiritual lesson ever.  Well, she is getting baptized now and we taught her).  It appeared that there was no way for us to watch the video in Spanish, only English--which was not going to work.  It was a little chaotic there with the kids and neighbors and everything, but Hna. Vega and I prayed that somehow we would be able to get it to work even though Adrianna had assured us again and again that it wasn't possible.  I thought a prayer would somehow make the remote work.  10 minutes later Adrianna found the remote that could work the tv to change the language.  She didn't understand how she had found the remote because it was in the same place she'd been looking for it for a week but somehow it was just there this time.  Prayer works.  

During the exchange during the day I ran into.........can you guess who?  Angel Lizano!  The husband of Judith that works at the car dealership!  He was so happy to see me and I was so happy to see him!  He is our investigator right now.  He is so in tune to the spirit.  He just has an addiction to his work and so we literally can not ever teach him.  And trust me, we've tried being creative.  We are going to try surprise phone lessons.  Anyway, I saw him when we was about 20 feet away and we had a joyous reunion, might have gotten kinda a hug and then he jumped on my bike I'd just jumped off of.  *see picture*

We saw Angel Lizano a little later too.   Let's just say his fatherly instincts are there and he was ready to protect us if need be.  He may or may not have seen us running down Independence and then been ready to jump out of his car to protect us.  We were trying to find a menos that was going to meet us at the corner and the elders had already gotten to the Chavez's so we were running, but that is just what we do!  God protects us!  But Angel was such a sweetheart!

Jessica Perez came out contacting with us and again, one of the most fun nights of my mission.  Her enthusiasm and excitement to be a missionary with us was utterly contagious.  We talked to everyone.  She spotted a man she wanted to talk to and we taught him right there and she bore her testimony so hard.  It was the sweetest thing.  Jessica and her recent convert husband committed to live the ward mission plan.

The Delgado family committed to live the ward mission plan.  We called him and (he doesn't read or study and feels really unworthy, but is the dangdest most generous man.  He is always worried that all the missionaries are starving and he would go to the ends of the world and back to do anything for any one of us) THEY HAD A FAMILY HOME EVENING!!!!!!!!!!!  He read us two verses over the phone that he really liked!!  It is cool because there are a lot of families here where it doesn't feel like the dads really have a presiding position, and this plan is going to help him be the patriarch of the home and the head of the house.  

We never heard from Ali again.  But that is how most of the things tend to happen.  But, I know his life was changed and I know he will meet with missionaries soon and he will know so much about our church.  He will be able to tell them that is was because he met some spanish hermanas that introduced him to the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.  

Yesterday (Monday) was a miracle day.  First we got to eat dinner with the angelic Hna. Escobar.  There is no one more humble. She served us a little sopita in her small humble trailer.  Hna. Escobar is probably one of the most well versed, gospel knowledgeable people in the whole spanish stake.  She reads every liahona and every manual from front to back.  She knows the bible and the book of mormon.  She is faithful embodied.  Her humility is overwhelming and touching.  She is brave.  She does what is right.  She is the standard of integrity.  I love her so much and she tells me she loves me too.  I tell her she is my grandma here.  Don't worry ;)  You'll get to meet her when you come.  She agreed to live the ward mission plan even though she doesn't have a family.  Thinking about how she could make the biggest impact, she agreed to spend about a month with one family and then switch to another family so she can train all the families in the ward how to have family home evenings.  Ella va a capacitar cada familia en cuanto a como llevar a cabo sus noches de hogar.  I imagine she took this call like many of the great missionaries of old took their calls: with determination and the knowledge that this is a great work.  She wants us to make her some little notes and outlines for the noches de hogar so she will be able to help families.  She is incredible.   

Ok, one last miracle.  After Hna. Escobar last night, we had some plans, but I felt we needed to go somewhere else.  We ended up going to the Higuera familia.  We had their address because they were going to be one of the menos families we were going to rescue.  In the dark, we tracked down where we thought their house should've been.  ..not there.  Well, it was just hiding.  In the main house we found a little boy, Jimmy, that led us to the back and, when pushing on a certain part of the wood fence, the boards gave way to reveal where we needed to walk.  We approached the open door, trying not to alarm anyone.  The boy that comes and stands in the doorway is holding a little blue book.  YES WAY.  He was reading with his little sister from very tattered Books of Mormon.  They have been inactive for 8 years.  Something happened and the Lord communicated to the dad that it was time to come back to church.  The dad had learned about the church when he was active before, but he told us he never really understood the plan of salvation or the atonement.  The little boy is named Rameses (pharaoh status anyone?) and he is 13.  He offered me his chair and tried to make me feel at home.  He got me water and Hna. Rodriguez just in case she changed her mind.  I couldn't sit while he stood so we rearranged everything and moved the table so we were all sitting.  The mom was on the couch doing homework patrol with the youngest son (mom, does that sound familiar?) while the dad was with Rameses (13) and Yeremiah (9) at the kitchen table with us.  It's all just one small room.  Rameses told us that he wanted to be baptized.  We asked him why.  He told us that he'd been thinking about it a lot and that he felt like it would benefit him and that it would be a benefit for his family too.  He wants to follow God and do what is right.  Talk about a child beyond his years.  Yeremiah also said that she wanted to be baptized.  She had participated in the primary program just the day before.  I think this family has a few weeks coming back to church, and it is the neatest thing.  We shared verses in Alma 34: 9, 15; 33:29? because it was what I felt the dad needed to hear.  Rameses really is smart and understood what we were talking about.  He asked if when it talked about Jesus giving us rest in the bible if we had really felt that.  We told him that that was true and that is what baptism would bring him.  Then Rameses got up and cried and went over to his dad and hugged him and said, "I have to do this, I have to do this".  Little Yeremiah had tears in her eyes too.  

We had to hurry from their house because we were almost going to be late for our cita with Romonita (my favorite!).  It was about 8:30 so we called her and had a wonderful lesson over the phone.  We read the book of Jarom.  We talked about likening the scriptures to us.  She liked the part where it says that the men that were chosen to be their leaders were always men of the faith of God.  We had more discussion about how these men are the profetas and when we do what they say, the lamanites won't be able to get us.  

I am so happy.  You have no idea.  I love being a missionary and I've decided that I'm actually not coming home.  This place feels like my home and the members are like my friends and family.  Sherman way is just as familiar to me as 26000 S.  Driving to the church on Farralone is more familiar than driving to Riverton High School.  2 years ago, who would've thought that a small place on the map where I'd never set foot before would come to feel more like my home than the places I've lived my whole life.  

Well, so many people to call and so many things to do!  I love you so much!  I'll talk to you soon!  Sorry about all the spelling and grammatical errors!  I know they are there! ;)

Love, Hermana Christensen

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Emily sent the following email and pictures on Monday, October 6, 2014:

Hey family, 

Don't worry about writing to me too much and taking up time.  There is nothing I would rather do than read the things you've written to me.  I love it because I miss you a lot.  

I loved Conference very very much.  President Hall sent us an email telling us about the common themes that he saw in conference and...let me just say that that man has some really good organizational skills.  I'll paste some of his remarks later so you can read them.   

I also really liked Bednar and I think it was D. Todd Christopherson from the Saturday morning session.  He talked about justice and mercy.  I have thoughts on about every talk, but there isn't really any way for me to tell you all of them right now.  It is incredible that we can hear the words of latter day prophets.  

We had to take our car in because it got recalled.  We spent about 4/5 hours at the dealership and them they took us to get a rental car after they discovered an ...oil pan leak?  It was neat because the girl helping us had offered us to be driven wherever we would like so we could wait out the recall in a more comfortable place, but when I asked her if she had any female drivers and received the 'no' we resigned ourselves to wait it out in the dealership.  We met a man in the dealership who had served his mission in Venezuela.  It was neat to speak with him in spanish and see members even in the car dealership.  

Our helper at the chevy dealership found his only female driver from Enterprise to come and get us.  We met another member there that had served his mission in Guatemala.  

You'll never guess what I'm driving!  I told them to give me their most exciting rental and I left with a big black Silverado. :)

I accidentally left our keys in out little chevy cruz, so it has been an adventure getting into our apartment.  The manager is loaning us an extra key to our apartment, but getting into the complex is a little tricky and I don't have a mail key so I haven't been able to get mail.  Hopefully we are able to get our car back in the next few days.  

Our mission received the iPads.  They were going to give them to us on Wednesday, but then another mission that was given the iPads had some missionaries that decided to misuse them, so they have put us on hold while they decide what they want to do.  This is really sad because we were so close.  I know I'd said many times before that we were going to get them and then they never came, but this time it really was for real.  

We had MLC (mission leadership Council) on Wednesday.  I wish I could've had the perspective I felt in that meeting from the beginning of my mission.  The president spoke on a variety of topics that we wanted us to later present to our zones.  The president is very good at explaining the processes and context of everything that happens.  For instance, every transfer meeting, the president talks about callings and releases so that everyone understands that callings in our church don't work like promotions and it isn't a sign that you did something right.  Reciprocally, it also means that being released from a calling doesn't mean you did something wrong.  President Hall doesn't know why people are called, but the Lord does and he will call in the tool that he needs for the amount of time that he needs it.  He talked about the function of councils in the church and how once there is a council at any level (ward, stake, etc.) every member of the council is encouraged to have full expression of opinion and they speak for the whole, not just for their respective organization.  This means that the primary president doesn't have to keep quiet when they are talking about other matters in the ward and only gives input on matters concerning the primary.  Everyone on the council is a fully equal member.  That is part of the definition of the council and councils only work when they work like that.  That means that my voice isn't just the voice for the women, but that I can speak about our whole zone and our whole mission, not just the women sector.  President Hall is very good at being fair and just and showing everyone they are valued.  

We talked about Nefi and his bow, about the different reactions of laman and lemuel compared with nefi.  Nefi breaks his hi-tech nimbus 2000 steel bow and when Laman and Lemuel begin to murmur, Nefi gets some wood and does the best he can with what he has.  Then he goes to the prophet to ask for direction.  We also covered the mission training plan, working with members, and general conference.

We took all the messges back and planned a ZTM (Zone Training Meeting) and presented it on Friday.  I think we did a really good job at presenting the things that the president wanted covered, but incorporating the things I've been thinking would help out our area.  It's cool because usually sister training leaders are called to be companions of hermanas that are already sister training leaders, but Hna. Rodriguez and I both were called without previous time in this calling.  It's neat because this way we don't follow the traditions of our fathers.  It's just interesting how it worked out, and I think the president did it on purpose.  

Dad, I love hearing about the sports :)  I actually don't see many fans or much team wear.  

Hna. Avila got called as a sister training leader too.  I don't think this has every happened before that someone as young as she gets called to be over missionaries all older than she is.  She is in the burbank zone and I am still in ECR.  I got to see her at MLC and then I saw her at conference.  

Our mission got together and we got a special preview of "meet the mormons". I liked it, but I didn't like it as much as I was hoping to like it.  I know the church is really excited about it and they are hoping it will go really big.  Did you hear about the conference Bednar did a bit ago to members teaching them how to do online proselyting?  He said something like, "I exhort all of you to sweep the world with social media as with a flood"?  Something to that effect :)  We saw clippits of it between conference and I felt the magnitude.  We watched conference at the spanish stake center.  They have one chapel where it is all in spanish and one where it is all in English.  The Spanish people watch all of conference with voice overs.  There was an English voice over for the spanish speaker, which was sad.  I probably wouldn't get the message as powerfully if I were to watch it is Spanish, but I would be able to understand the talks because...gospel's what we do.  

German and Francisca invited us over to their house to celebrate Erick's 12th birthday.  They are so excited to meet you!  They are some of the best people in the world.  Having them here helps me while I don't have you guys.  They feel like family and they are humble and precious and sweet.   They would be willing to do anything for me.  I invited them to come to our house over Christmas break.  :)  I would love to be able to treat them and let them eat food at our house for a change.  I don't think this could really happen because German only has the 24th and the 25th off of work and Francisca only has the 25th, but I extended the invitation.  I even offered to call his boss to ask for special permission for him to get work off ;)  And then I volunteered you, Dad, to call his boss and ask for him to have work off ;)  They could come and go through a session at the Salt Lake Temple with you and me and Heidi <3  I can't think of anything cooler.  They would love to hear you, mom, play the piano and have us have a nativity program.  

We dropped Carmen because she wouldn't come to general conference.  The battle is real.  

This is President Hall's summary of conference:

Always follow the prophet and don’t get distracted, but strengthen your testimony through personal revelation.  

Always follow the prophet
• Elder Lynn G. Robbins: "Which way do you face?" 
• Elder Eduardo Gavarret: "Yes, Lord, I will follow Thee" 
• Elder Russell M. Nelson: "Sustaining the prophets" 
• Sister Carol F. McConkie: "Live according to the words of the prophets" 

Don’t get distracted
• Elder Dallin H. Oaks: "Loving and living with differences" 
• Elder Quentin L. Cook: "Choose wisely" 
• Elder M. Russell Ballard: "Stay in the boat and hold on!" 
• Elder Larry S. Kacher: "Trifle not with sacred things" 

Strengthen your testimony through personal revelation
• President Boyd K. Packer: "The reason for our hope" 
• President Dieter F. Uchtdorf: "Receiving a testimony of light and truth" 
• Elder Jorg Klebingat: "Approaching the throne of God with confidence" 
• Elder L. Tom Perry: "Finding lasting peace and building eternal families" 
• Elder Craig C. Christensen: "I know of these things of myself" 
• President Henry B. Eyring: "Continuing revelation" 
• Elder Robert D. Hales: "Eternal life — to know our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ" 
• Elder Richard G. Scott: "Make the exercise of faith your first priority" 

I'll send you some pictures. :)

Love you, 
Hermana Christensen

Emily wrote, "Starting from the left, we have Edilberto, me, Oscar, and Teodoro.  Edilberto loves me.  He told me on Sunday that I was Peter's hand.  This is a reference from the last general conference.  There was a talk about how we don't just invite people, but then we reach out our hand to lift them.  He told me I was this hand for him when he needed it.  He told me he had something for me from Mexico and excitedly led me toward his car where he revealed: Teodoro!  Back from Mexico!  And Oscar too!  Oscar told me I was an Angel.  He got baptized after I left Arleta, but I found him and taught him his first lessons and didn't give up on him even when he disappeared to Nicaragua.  Soon after meeting Oscar the first time, we found him walking alone Van Nuys and in my excitement to see him, Oscar took me by a lot of surprise and nearly kissed my cheek in greeting.  
These are members of the Roque family at General conference.  The two boys you see on your right are Yoni y David.  David is on the end.  I couldn't believe that they came to conference!!  It might just be time to go back and see if they are ready to read in the Book of Mormon :)  Hope.

Proof that the iPads arrived

Zone Training Meeting

Erick's 12th birthday party  (L-R: Hna Rodriguez, Emily, Francisca, Erick, & 2 other sisters)

General Conference