Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Emily sent us the following email on Monday, June 23, 2014:

Hello, hello, hello!

First of all, Mom, Dad, Skibby!  Your conversation counters are the coolest things ever!!  You are the best M16 gadget team that anyone could ever ask for!

This week we were out walking through neighborhoods and we walked past a Buddhist temple.  Apparently there were 100 different monks that had traveled there for a 10 day stay where they were going to be praying constantly.  The head monk never came out of the main room.  Lots of other monks were there basically on 24/7 food duty cooking all sorts of Vietnamese food to feed to the monks.  We walked past and talked to one of the helpers and she filled us in on the going-ons.  We were leaving and this delightful little Asian woman got me to come and eat some of the food prepared for the king of the monks. I love how food is always the universal way to show love! <3

Oh precious Soila got baptized!  It's actually spelled Zoila.  She has been so excited about her baptism for a very long time!!  She was like a child on Christmas.  She was all smiles, she bounced into the church and kept clapping her hands together because she couldn't hold the excitement in!  Soila has a pretty amazing story because she was the referral of a menos active.  Lillian and I have a love-frustration relationship (of course) because she is a menos and church attendance has become my passion.  Soila can't read, but when she works really hard she can force herself to sound words out.  She started reading in the Book of Mormon.  It was painful to work through a verse with her.  Each word came at a cost.  Soila strained her mind to be able to read the words so she could get through a verse most days.  When we started teaching her, she didn't really know how to pray and was very nervous and uncomfortable with praying.  Soila gained so much confidence and experienced the joy of being able to accomplish something beyond her abilities.  She is reading in the Book of Mormon.  Her reading amount is humble, but her efforts and her faith are so pure and so great. 

When Soila had changed into her baptismal whites and was sitting there, I saw little tears appear in her eyes.  She has understood the impact of a baptism and desired to feel completely clean for long time.  It was sweet to see such a humble woman get to enjoy the blessings of the restored gospel.  That is the impact of the first vision in all of our lives.  Because God the Father and Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph Smith, Soila could make the covenant of baptism with Heavenly Father.  She can feel clean and light. 

Yesterday at the baptism, Hna. Hardy and I sang Divina Luz.  The whole time I watched Soila because there wouldn't have been any other way I could've done it.  She wouldn't look me back in the eyes because her eyes were starting to get teary and I knew she knew that if she looked at me she would cry.  It was so sweet. 

Then after the baptism when she left the font soaking wet, she gave me a big hug in the bathroom and started crying and praising Heavenly Father.  It was the neatest experience to witness. 

Are you guys watching the world cup?  Everyone here loves it! 

Teodoro was at church yesterday and he seems to be doing great!  I don't see him as much, but I am able to visit him whenever I want to :)

The president is a great man.  Transfers are coming in about 1.5 weeks.  I am anticipating leaving the area. It won't be real unless I get a phone call.  I will be able to tell you guys next week if I am going or staying!  Ah!

There are so many good people here in the mission that I love so much!  Many of them are members and many or them are missionaries.  There is an incredible force of missionaries going and doing.  I am constantly touched by the quality of people around whom I get to serve.  It is a privilege to get to have them in my thoughts and in my prayers.  You guys are also in my prayers.  Thanks for everything!

Love, Agent Christensen ;)

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

We received the following email from Emily on Monday, June 16, 2014:

Dear familia,
I still have yet to talk to the president about school and future options, but he told me that after transfers and the busy stuff in the mission dies down, that we should talk about everything, so I am excited about that. 
We had my favorite family at church on Sunday.  Maria Linda is one of my favorite investigators because she is so smart, she cares about her children, she is responsible and interested and allows herself to really ponder on the things we talk to her about.  When they called us to ask which street they needed to turn onto to get to the church, I said to myself that that was one of the happiest moments of my mission.  All 6 of them filled up a whole row!  The ward is excited to help us with them. 

Soila Hernandez is going to get baptized on Sunday!  She passed her baptismal interview and is ...I would go so far as to use the word "giddy"...about this day finally getting here.  Soila is a miracle.  She doesn't know how to read, yet she is learning to read as she slowly reads verses of the book of Mormon.

They released our old ward mission leader.  This made me really sad because I love hno. Sacor.  He was always telling us, "me llamen, me llamen".  He is a superb teacher.  He should give trainings on how to teach.  He is motivating and he becomes the best friend of every investigator.  I know that he did all he did because he was trying to get blessings for his family.  He is so humble and he had a rough go about, but I tried to support him and let him help us.  Hno. Sacor went online and ordered a manual for his calling and I know that he studied it.  I am so impressed with him and the changes that he made and the effort that he put into his calling.  There were two times that he took the missionaries out to McDonalds after coordination and his esposa and "gente" would come and meet him there.  I really admire Hno. Sacor. 

They had a ward party!  Oh my gosh!  Hispanic ward parties are WONDERFUL!!!  There is always a lot of really good food and get this, afterwards, they DANCE!  They do salsa and merengue and chaue (or something).  All dance and it is the funnest thing to watch!!!!  I took a small video on my  camera chip that you guys will have to see.  The dancing is a little bit sassy and looks like so much fun! 

We can come back when there is going to be one of these parties because you need to experience this.  Or we can just talk to hno. sacor and he can plan a party for when we visit! 

We made friends with a lot of children in many apartment complexes!  We feel like celebrities!  They are always so excited to raise their hands and volunteer the things they've learned about Jesus.  We taught the kids in one complex how to play Colored Easter Eggs.  They love it when we come and they run to us. Sometimes I feel like Peter Pan with all the lost boys just following the leader!  I know that because we talked to everyone and didn't overlook them that they will talk to missionaries when they are a little bit older. 
Love, Hermana Em

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Emily sent us the following email on Monday, June 9, 2014:

Dear familia,

I am doing so much better with my companion!  Thank goodness! 
It's interesting because they keep having different zone training meetings and every meeting is supposed to change our missions and change our lives and change the way we teach.  I mean, they are sometimes moderately helpful.  It is good to focus on teaching simple and using the foyettos and such.  Our last one was just on Tuesday and from that they instructed us to always teach the first lesson just as a overview of what you will talk about in lesson one and find out what their doubt is so you can address that later.  This is good, but.....  Anyway.  It didn't really work that well in our zone or in the other zone that I had communication with.  The zone training meetings are interesting because they will be taught a topic by President Hall, and then they disperse to their respective zones and relay the message to us.  After relaying the message and the vision, they try to illustrate the point by having a role play.  They always ask people "who has an investigator with a  doubt?" and then they do their best to role play it and try to use their new "teaching strategies" to show how easy missionary work will be if we just apply these new principles. 

The biggest reason it all flopped was because they would try to have a companionship pin down a specific doubt for the investigator they had in mind.  Then they would have a companionship come in from the hall and have them teach them and try to identify the doubt.  Usually we can't tell you exactly what the investigator's doubt is because they don't even know what their doubt is.  The zone leaders were looking for doubts like: the authority never left the earth or God wouldn't call profetas in these days.  The investigators' doubts are more usually like: "but I'm Catholic" or "yes I know that Joseph Smith saw God and Jesus Christ and I really like my church and all churches are good."  Sometimes I think the hardest thing for them to understand is that the authority of God is an actual thing that has to be received in a specific way and then is stored by being held by a worthy male.  I think they confuse the spirit of God for the authority.  They think that if someone is "inspired by the spirit" then they definitely have that power and authority to act in the name of God.  That is how they think that all their baptisms are valid is because they believe and have faith in the men that are pastors at their churches. 

I have tried to make clear to people that the authority of God is not something that can be achieved or attained merely by study or by being a good person.  You cannot read the bible or start a church or be very faithful and have the authority to baptize.  You have to be given this permission by the laying on of hands by someone that already holds the priesthood.  Worthy males are the vessels that hold the priesthood and keep it present on the earth. 

They almost needed to identify the superficial doubt (as much as the investigator might know about their doubt) and then discover together what is the root doubt because root doubts are diagnosable.  We know scriptures and explanations for every "root doubt".  They didn't distinguish between superficial doubts and root doubts and for that reason ZTM was pretty rough. 

I love you so much and I will talk to you soon! 

Thanks for sending me a letter this week.  I loved getting it and I got it early enough that I could respond to it :)

I love you!  Talk to you really soon! :)

Love, Emma <3 


Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Emily sent the following email on Monday, June 2, 2014:

Dear familia,

Here's something cool.  Exercising your faith is something that is always just theoretical until you actually do it and it always seems to have a surprising outcome.  It is really one of those things that you can't understand unless you experience it and even when you do experience it, in order to keep remembering how it felt, you need to keep nourishing it and having experiences.  It is so easy to unknowingly fall out of exercising faith even when you feel like you are.
Teodoro has better days and worse days.  Mom, thanks for what you sent!  I bought some ice cream at the store today with some cones and we are going to go and surprise them sometime with the moosetracks I bought.  I'm going to show him the pictures you sent me of our family and tell him this treat is from you.  He is going to be so excited!  Teodoro was so cute because earlier on when I'd asked him about helado, he told me that he like fresa y coco (strawberry and coconut).  Doesn't that just melt your heart?  I don't know why little things like this do!  It's like when German told me his favorite color was verde.  With the other part of the money, I am going to buy him a himnl because he LOVES the songs and really should have a book of his own.  He tries to keep track of the hymn numbers that we sing that he likes. 

Sam will do well at the MTC.  He is pretty resilient and strongly opinionated.  That should help him.  

Why is Skibby so talented and so cute.  I still have a great desire to take piano lessons when I come home from my mission.  I don't know how that is going to work out, but that is a great desire of mine. 

I'll email Nate something nice :)

This has been an interesting week.  My companion has done some nice things for me that have surprised me in their tender nature.  There are definitely things that we need to learn from each other.  I kinda felt like at some point during my mission I would get to serve with Hna. Hardy. 

This month we will have interviews with the president and we will also have temple trips.  This will be fun!  It is crazy because I still haven't been out quite a year, but whatever happens at this next transfer meeting determines a lot of the rest of my mission.  After this transfer, I will just have 4 transfers left. 

We are having good things happen with some of our investigators, and with others it is just frustrating because they don't seem to understand.  Sometimes I think the prophet has sent us all out so we can become converted.  It's definitely for that reason too!  We are meant to learn how to have faith and be trusting and feel vulnerable and learn how to love and be open and support each other.  Learning to be humble is inescapable.  I feel like your communication with other people is so limited, that when you need someone you have to turn to God. 

It is so true about friends.  We have a 'dealing with stress' booklet here in the mission and one of the suggestions that is supposed to help you is: "befriend your companion".  I liked this because first of all, I have experienced this and it helps, but second, I like how it shows us that it is a choice that we make to be a friend, and it is the Christlike path.  Third, I like it because I know that God put us here on this earth and he meant for us to be and have friends.  That is how he left us not so alone.  He also realizes that we are all really different but that we all have a tenderness in our nature that can reach out and care for another child of God even if they are different from us.  We need more love in this world and we need to take care of all of God's children.  Sometimes it's the ones that act like they don't need to be loved that need love the most.  :)  It's true. 

I'm already starting to drink water because I need to be a little more hydrated for sports today than I was last week ;)  I love playing sports and I have a lot of friends that I get to see mondays. 

I love you guys and I'll talk to you soo soon!!

Love, Hna. Christensen!