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...  

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