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

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Emily sent the following email and pictures on Monday, Sept. 29, 2014:

I love you guys so much!  :)

I am so happy. I am happy to be a missionary.  I was thinking about what is one of my favorite things about being a missionary.  I definitely like always having a worthy purpose and getting to see the hand of the Lord and associate with other outstanding missionaries and having adventures and weird/creepy things happen, but at the finish of it all, my favorite part has to be that I am able to introduce myself as a representative of Jesus Christ.  

Saturday, during companionship study......the phone rings.  I think every missionary’s heart drops to see "Pres. Hall"  show up as the incoming call.  The royal man with his calm, collected narrator's voice asks to speak to me.  And then he takes a moment to talk to Hermana Avila.  HE CALLED US BOTH AS SISTER TRAINING LEADERS!  It took us sprinting down the hall, past the testigos teaching our vecino, and all the way down to the mail room and back to get out all our extra energy before being able to calmly proceed with our study.  Hna. Avila went to Burbank with my MTC companion and I get to stay in El Camino Real with Hna. Rodriguez, the most beautiful missionary!  We're totally going to get jumped, but don't fear.  I have, and have practiced using my pepper spray.  I pity the fool....

She is so smart and spiritual and organized and hard working.  We have a special bond because we entered the mission on the same day and we spent out first night together at the white sister training leader's apartment before our first transfer meeting.  Ever since then we've always really liked each other but we didn't think we'd ever serve together, but the Lord makes things work the way they need to. :)  She is from Venezuela.  You should hear her talk.  The words just melt together and I don't think anyone will be able to stand a chance against the commitments we are going to propose.  ;)  

Neither of us have been sister training leaders before, so we just get to figure it out!  I love adventures and challenges.  The way the Lord works, callings like this are never a reward for or a sign of good behavior.  Rather, they are invitations to rise to a higher way of living.  I am grateful for the mercy the Lord has chosen to bestow upon me.  We will have a training meeting on Wednesday and then we will have our first MLC (mission leadership conference).  I can't wait to gather and receive direction from the Royal Man.  He is so wise and so inspired.  I know he will be a member of the 70 very soon.  

A lot of the wards here are struggling with church attendance.  This breaks my heart can this be so when we are part of the only true church of Jesus Christ?  Apparently the ward in North Hills is having a lot of problems with chasms (gossip) and they are probably going to have to disperse that ward.  We heard that the Reseda ward only had 20 people at church 2 weeks ago...WHAT?!?!?  

We are part of the El Camino Zone.  Within this zone, we have the Reseda district and the El Camino district.  Each Spanish district is a ward.  When we heard that Reseda's church attendance was so low, usually there wouldn't have been anything that I could've done, but because we are the sister training leaders, we take care of the Reseda hermanas.  I am very protective of El Camino Real because this is my home and this is where I have family.  I will never let this ship sink.  I will fight until the end.  You would be impressed though, because I think El Camino Real is doing better than most of the other wards.  When I came back for the first time, my heart sank during sacrament at the sparseness.  In that instant, I knew that Avila and I would work until we made this ward strong again.  We spent a significant amount of time going on rescue missions and ...people are coming back.  El Camino is starting to look good.  You can't afford to be complacent in this work.  When I heard about Reseda, first my heart sank, but then I realized that we could help them!  We called our hermanas and made a plan to hunt down their menus actives and save Reseda!  None of these boats are sinking as long as I have any say in it.  Last night we split with them and took our 2 cars and went on rescue missions! a miracle.  She is so sweet and she had reached the point in her spiritual progress that she knows that what we are telling her is true.  She was a champ and courageously showed up to church on Sunday.  

German and Francisca are doing better than ever!  German is going to receive the 6 priesthood lessons all in one so they can start taking the temple classes right after General conference.  6 weeks after that and they should have their temple date.  Little Erick is going to have his 12th birthday on the 30th of september.  For his birthday, he asked his mom if she would invite all 4 of us sister missionaries over to his house for dinner, so on the 4th, that is where we will be come fire or come rain.  Last Sunday...oh I forgot to tell you this story!

Last Sunday was wonderful!  We showed up to German and Francisca's house bright and early to make them eggie pancakes.  They were tickled and loved it!  It was cool to be able to serve Francisca.  Erick rubbed sleep out of his eyes while putting down some eggie pancakes.  He would fit in perfectly with the pack.  I told them that you would always make pancakes for us and just rotate through giving whoever finished first the next fresh one.  German was so chipper and was excited for his first breakfast americano!  After church they invited us to have tomales with them for lunch.  We did and we talked about the next Sunday being fast Sunday and talked to them about bearing their testimonies.  I don't understand the fear completely, but let it suffice to say that the fear of public speaking does exist and is as serious as they say.  After tirelessly trying to convince German that he was ready to take this step and that he didn't need to be embarrassed that he thought he would cry, etc, etc, etc, we asked Francisca.  She was just as nervous.  He asked her if she would at least think of and write down some thoughts that she could say in case she felt the spirit and was feeling brave enough.  She faithfully agreed that she would.  Francisca is the most trustworthy, humble, faithful, patient women.  

Fast forward to this Sunday, German didn't make it because he was sick but Francisca was there.  Let me reiterate, German would rather jump off a cliff than bear his testimony (because the fear is so great) in front of the ward.  Francisca was just as scared, but when I went to her row and held out my hand, she nodded and without looking back rose.  She did her preparation!  When the day came, she didn't have to look back or look around.  She could heed the call because she was prepared.  She sat on the stand and held my hand.  Her voice shook her first couple or words, but then she bore a simple and heartfelt testimony.  She finished by telling the world that she wanted her family to go to the temple to be a family forever.  She is faithful.  She is an angel.  

Carmen.  This one was a victory and a half.  Her son, Chris, called us to let us know that they wouldn't be coming to church.  So we went over to their house.  We gave it all with Chris.  We gave him every chance to come to church and talked about how being there would help him to overcome his challenges and help him feel the peace and direction he wants.  He insists that he wants to come to church, but he just can't seem to make himself do it.  His mom is painfully shy.  Let me just tell you, the battle was real.  We invited and bore testimony and testified of true doctrine.  There are things that you can only say with a lot of love and we said them all and still the answer was no.  I knew there was one last hope: we asked to come in and pray.  3 minutes of silence later, carmen offered her prayer.  A simple "are you ready ?" after the prayer received a faithful nod.  We waited outside while she got ready and left her house looking the prettiest I'd seen her in a dress and with her hair down.  She apologized for not having makeup--little did she know she was radiating light.  As we walked with her step in step, I knew we'd beaten Satan and I knew the heavens were rejoicing.  

We have been contacting and knocking with members.  This has afforded me some of the most wonderful, inspiring, and touching moments on my mission.  I know that defending your faith makes it grow.  I know that the members of the church in these valleys need to be strengthened in their testimonies and in their commitment.  I know the answer is missionary work.  I know it is taking them out with us for the cites we have scheduled and then keeping them with us the full time that we knock or contact if the cita falls through.  It is by small and simple things that God realizes great things that confound the wise.  There are too many hiding variables in missionary work that can't be identified, but that fulfill and satisfy needs and work miracles.  I know this work is true.  I know the Lord works with us in his vineyard.  Sammy, maybe this can help you in your work.  I promise you that if you take a member with you for a couple of hours and have them accompany you to apts or just help you look for people, that you will have more people say yes to your message and the testimony of this member will strengthen.  I promise.  I have been blown away by the difference in response we get when we are with one of their own kind. You won't know the truth of the doctrine unless you give it seed, and then you will know if the doctrine is true or if I speak of myself.  

Love, Hna. Christensen
Emily with her former companion, Hna Avila (left) and ward member, Francisca (right).
Emily wrote, "Francisca came to be a missionary with us! <3" 

Emily & Hna. Avila ~ Emily wrote, "Corazoncito y yo."  Emily has loved her companion!

Emily:  "We made this birthday cake for our zone leader."

Note the outside temperature reading on the dashboard...