Sunday, July 31, 2016

Homecoming Talk - Being a True Disciple of Jesus Christ and Diagnosis

A lot has happened in these few short weeks. I was sent home from a mission and a work that I loved, and I was diagnosed with cancer. More specifically, I was diagnosed with Stage 4 Lymphoblastic Lymphoma

That shocked me a little bit. I always seemed to think that cancer was a disease that other people get, or at least it sure feels that way. I just never thought it would happen to me. But here I am, sitting in a hospital bed and having chemotherapy. While this path will be scary and hard, I have complete faith that God will lead me through it. As it says in Joshua 1:9, "...Be strong and of good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest". I can feel the love of God with me, even when things aren't easy or the way I would like them to be. But I know that he is at my side through the pain and will carry me through this trial on His shoulders.

Another family in my ward also planned a homecoming party for me and their son. It was super sweet of them. Pictures are included below.

But anyways, I am at home now, and I have already given my homecoming talk. If you would like to read it, I have pasted it below


Being a True Disciple of Jesus Christ

Good morning. My name is Sister Christensen and I just returned from serving in the Brasil Campinas Mission. I loved my mission. I loved the experiences, I loved learning and teaching about the gospel, but most of all, I loved having the opportunity to do my small part in the changing of lives.

I believe that two things should happen while you are on a mission. 
  1. You invite others to come unto Christ. 
  2. You become a different person than who you were when you left.

As a missionary, you see and experience a lot of things. You see heartache. You see pain. You see illness and depression. In short, you see Satan trying to destroy the hope and faith of humanity. As Paul says, “we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12). There is a lot of darkness in the world and it is a real power. No one can deny that.  However, God is more powerful, and His work is far greater. His kingdom brings light and hope, and has the power to change lives.

Without the gospel of Jesus Christ, people are lost. They are as sheep with no master. As Matthew puts it, the blind are leading the blind (Matthew 15:14). But as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, we have something different. We have the light. And because we have something different, we need to do something differently.

Our purpose, as missionaries (and as members in general) is to share the light that we find in the gospel with others. As we do so, we take our friends and our loved ones by the hand and lead them out of the darkness and into the light. This light comes from our faith. We have faith in Jesus Christ.
On my mission, I had the opportunity to do just that: to invite others to come unto Christ.

There is a scripture that I really like in Ether 12:4 which reads:
“Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God.”

This scripture says that it is through our faith in God and Jesus Christ that we obtain a hope for a better world. Despite all the works of the adversary, we can have hope that because of Jesus Christ, we are free from our worries, our illnesses, our weaknesses, and our sins. We have a greater perspective that all of our sufferings and afflictions will “give [us] experience, and shall be for [our] good” (D&C 122:7).

The next part of the verse says something equally as important. When we have faith, we must abound in good works. So how do we abound in good works? How are we made sure and steadfast, being led to glorify God? The key is action. We must act on our faith and our beliefs if we are to inherit all of these promised blessings.

I think that James sums it up for all of us when he said, “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only” (James 1:22).

When we are true disciples of Jesus Christ, we seek to apply his teachings in our lives. As we do so, we quickly find that it is much easier to talk the talk than to take up your cross and follow Him. I have learned that the best missionaries aren`t the ones with the best language skills or the most scriptures memorized. The best missionaries, the best disciples, are the ones who love others as He did and does. They are the ones who are doing the work of the Savior. Anyone can talk about Christ. But it takes a devoted and humble servant to get up and do something; to follow in the footsteps of Christ and to change themselves for His sake; to leave everything at His feet and to serve as He did.

When we are baptized we make the promise that we are “desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another`s burdens, that they may be light… [and] willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that we may be in, even until death” (Mosiah 18:8-9).

You will notice that this scripture does not say to do these things until you are too tired, until you think you have done enough, or until that person that you are serving starts to get on your nerves. It says that we must comfort those who stand in comfort, we must mourn with those who mourn, and be an example at all times, even until death. There are no time-outs in the road of discipleship.

As members of the church, each and every one of us made that promise when we were baptized. I would ask of you, how are you acting to keep this sacred covenant with God?

One way that we keep this covenant is through charity.

It is no wonder that the first and greatest commandment is to “love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind… and the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” (Matthew 22:37-39). It is through service that we become more like our Heavenly Father and more like Jesus Christ. It is through service and through action that we take up our crosses and follow Him. 

There was one day on my mission where we woke up to find that a tornado had passed through the area, destroying entire parts of neighborhoods and cutting trees across as though they were toothpicks. There were several members whose homes were completely demolished – walls had fallen down, the ground had sunk, entire roofs were lifted away in the wind, not to mention there was about two inches of water inside of the houses. It broke my heart to see the scene that had unfolded in front of me. I saw people who I loved sunk down in utter despair at the sight of their homes. They were afraid and had a hard time seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

However, that very same day, I watched as the entire ward sprang into action to help their suffering brothers and sisters. In less than ten minutes after sacrament meeting, the ward had organized parties to go help repair and clean houses, as well as lunches for the families affected by the tragedy. They dropped everything to go and help. I even saw a man with a vial of consecrated oil in his hand, ready to give a blessing to whoever was in need.

And yet their love and service didn`t stop there. Over the weeks, they organized a donation of clothing, mattresses, and food for the affected families, both inside the ward and in the community. I saw the hand of God working through the ward to reach out and comfort his other children. I was touched by their selfless love.

A couple weeks later I had the opportunity to see how a great be with a true disciple of Christ. The last few weeks of my mission I spent with Sister D. We were in the hospital, in the mission home, or traveling between the two. It was exhausting. I can`t imagine how tired she must have been, but she didn`t show it. She slept on a bad hospital bed and didn`t say a word. She called the President to give updates with a smile in her voice. And if I was struggling, she was there with arms open to give me a hug, and encouraging words to say. There wasn`t one moment where she was annoyed or frustrated. I looked at her and I saw Christ by my side. I saw that she wasn`t just teaching people about the gospel, she was living it.

I think that is the most important thing that you can learn in this life: to love and serve others humbly. 
I was asked to speak about how I have changed on my mission. I could give you a list of things that I believe have changed about myself, but I feel like that wouldn`t prove much. What I believe is that the mission starts a process. It starts us on the road of true discipleship. It is when we leave our will behind that we may truly become as the Savior was.

--- end talk fabulously and bear testimony-- 

My last invite can be found in Mosiah 4:10, which reads, “and now, if you believe all these things, see that ye do them”.

PHOTOS

Waiting for the Bus to the Airport

My Friend who Came to Pick Me Up and I Eating Icecream

Arrived Home!

Homecoming Party with Friends

Homecoming Party/Banners

In the Hospital with my Sister

Monday, July 11, 2016

7/11/2016: Week 42 - Coming Home

Family and Friends,

So as most of you know, this will be my last group e-mail. In a nutshell, I will be coming home this week. I have been having some serious health problems these past couple months and they worsened this past week. I stayed in the hospital a few days, and the President talked to the doctor who was taking care of me. I should be back home by the end of the week.

I feel so grateful for the opportunity that I have had to be a missionary. It is truly impossible to fully describe. I see miracles happening every day. I have seen the impossible become possible through faith. I had the opportunity to give a little light to this dark world and spread a little bit of hope. I had the opportunity to watch people change their lives for Christ, and my life has been changed forever because of this experience. My heart breaks to know that this dream is going to end 8 months early, but I know that God has a purpose in everything. I know that he has a plan for me and my life, and that there is more waiting for me because I am His daughter. 

I love this church and this gospel with all of my heart. I know that Christ lives. He is my Savior and yours. And I know that it is only through Him that we can have peace and joy in this life that will endure for all eternity.

I had the opportunity this past Sunday to get up in front of the ward and bear my testimony to them. Sister D and I also sang Savior, Redeemer. It was a fitting last Sunday.

The Lord also blessed us with one last miracle before I came home. The family that we are teaching are going to be baptized. W and B are going to be married. In fact, we are going to legally mark the date today. I may not be here for their baptisms or the wedding, but I will be watching and praying from back home.

With love,

Sister Christensen

Sunday, July 10, 2016

7/4/2016: Week 41 - Service Project and Elect Family

Minha querida família e meus amigos maravilhosos,

Happy 4th of July! This week Sister M and I have been working with a family that is elect. They have been completely prepared to hear our messages. W and B are the parents, and they have three kids named T, P, and I. The two daughters have come to church two weeks in a row, and they love it. One has been going to mutual, and the other is taking piano classes at the church. 

The entire family has received witnesses that this is the church of Jesus Christ. Sister M actually made a contact with the two girls one day about a month ago and she was unable to find their home. However, last week (when we found them), we were eating lunch in one member's house and we ran into them again, and found out where they lived. It was nothing short of a miracle. W said that God had sent us to her home and that it was no coincidence that we found them. B also said that we were the response to a prayer he had been saying for over a month.

This week we invited them to be baptized, and they all accepted, except the father, who said he wanted to learn more first. But later, he was talking to his wife, and asked if she really was going to be baptized. She responded, "No, we are going to be baptized." She has a great testimony of the gospel and is completely willing to change her life to follow God.

The only problem as of now is the fact that they need to get married, but I will update you all on what is going on with that.

We also had the opportunity to do a service project in Campinas for the people who were affected by the tornado that passed through there. We divided a bunch of clothes, and even the mission president was there. 

Here's to another great week!

Sister Christensen









Monday, June 27, 2016

6/27/2016: Week 40 - New Area and New Companion

Hello everyone!

We had transfers this week! I was moved and my new companion is a Brazilian from the northeast. She is an absolute sweetheart and is full of joy and the love of missionary work. She only has 3 months on the mission but already knows how to teach and use the spirit. We giggle and take a lot of photos together. This transfer will be an awesome one.

This week also went very well. I had the opportunity to go to another Festa Junina, and we brought two new investigators with us to the party. They loved it, and then came to church the next day!

We have 10 new investigators this week with a lot of potential. I will keep everyone updated on what happens with them and when we have a baptism. ;)

I love you all! Thank you for your support and love!

-Sister Christensen





Tuesday, June 21, 2016

6/20/2016: Week 39 - Group Email and Photos


Hello!

I don't have much time this week, but I will give you a quick run down and some of photos.

1. I am being transferred -- I don't know where to yet, or who will be my companion, but I will let you all know in my next e-mail. 

2. I found an American flag.

3. I ate at McDonald's for the first time in 9 months. It is exactly the same as it is in the US.

4. We had a Festa this week: basically a lot of food and people dressed like rednecks/cowboys...and a lot of corn and square dancing. 

 5. The other sisters baptized M this week. 


With love,
Sister Christensen



Found an American Flag

McDonalds
 
Temple

Festa 

Companions

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

6/14/2016: Week 38 - A Bazaar and A Coincidence

Hello!

So, last week I told everyone about the mini tornado that we had. This week, the church gathered a bunch of clothing, food and mattresses, and we had a donation Bazaar in the church for the people who lost things in the storm. Sister B and I were there, and we talked to every single person who entered, sharing a bit of the gospel, and asking if they had interest in learning a little bit more. All in all, I think about 50 people gave us their addresses or numbers, wanting to learn more about the church. 

Sister P and I also had the opportunity to teach about 20 people about the church and Jesus Christ as they waited to enter into the Bazaar. It was really neat to stand in front of these people and teach them what I know to be true. I don't know who was really listening, but I know that we gave them the choice to know more, and we did our part. 

This week, we will be focusing on contacting all of these people.

Sister B and I also had the opportunity to teach a woman named H about the Book of Mormon. She told us that everything that we said makes sense, and then she said that when she reads the Bible, she likes to open up to a random page and read it. She then went and did the same with the Book of Mormon, and to my surprise she opened to Alma 32:21 which says, "And now as I said concerning faith -- faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true." 

That in and of itself was cool, because of all the random scriptures she could have read, she read a beautiful verse on faith; a verse that we use in our teaching as missionaries. But then something even weirder happened. We started to talk about marriage, and she said, "Lets try the book again." This time, when she randomly opened it, she read the following verse in 4 Nephi 1:11: "and they were married, and given in marriage, and were blessed according to the multitude of promises which the Lord had made unto them." 

This time, her eyes got wide. I don't know if that was all coincidence or not, but I do know that God works in mysterious ways, ha ha.

Com amor e beijos,
Sister Christensen

PS We also went to the temple this week -- I will send pictures next week!

Monday, June 6, 2016

6/6/2016: Week 37 - 9 Months Down and a Tornado

​Hello!

So this week was... interesting.

First of all, the Elders forgot to pay the energy bill, and so they cut our lighting and heating this week. Oh-so-innocent us thought that the power had just gone out, until we talked to the doorman who asked us if we knew that they had cut our power. We then called the Elders and got everything sorted out, but that night we got home and lit a bunch of emergency candles, made some french fries, and took photos. But don't worry, the energy got turned back on the next day, after a painfully cold shower. 

Then Saturday night there was a mini-tornado here. (It's okay mom, I am safe.) I don't know about you, but when I think about here I don't think about tornadoes. Tornadoes just don't happen here, but I am here to witness that it did indeed happen. We woke up Sunday and got all ready to go to church. When we got there, the power was out. We had sacrament meeting like normal, but in the end, the bishop told everyone what happened, and that there were a lot of members who needed help. Immediately after the meeting, everyone got divided into groups to either a) help with the member's houses, or b) make lunch for the people affected. Everyone was organized and ready to go in ten minutes flat. When we got to the houses, I honestly didn't believe my eyes. 

Sister B and I helped Irmã A and I. (I is the girl who we did a split with.) Her ceiling had holes in it from other people's roofing crashing in, and there was water everywhere. One wall had also collapsed. Another house was completely demolished because of the storm. There was a sink hole close to a house as well. They had no light and no water, and yet, A had to go to work the next morning. We helped clean what we could, and the brothers of the ward helped patch up the roof until they could do something more permanent. 

Even though it was really sad to see the utter destruction of these houses, I was also really touched by how the members responded so quickly and with a lot of organization. They dropped everything to go help their brothers and sisters who were suffering. There was even one brother who had his oil with him, ready to give a blessing to whoever needed it. Seeing these people's charity really touched my heart.

On another note, I have 9 months on the mission! I am half way done! Has it passed as fast for you all as it has for me?

Love,
Sister Christensen


Half Way Mark!

AKA Hump Day!

No Power!

Monday, May 30, 2016

5/30/2016: Week 36 - Bad Haircuts and Batman

Hello!

This week I cut my hair. Now normally, this wouldn't be any exciting news, but I learned that hair cuts are a bit different here. I went to a Sister of the ward (because who wants to pay someone to cut your hair?) and asked if she knew anyone who cut hair. She said that she did, and I was thinking, great, FREE HAIR CUT. But because I was being cheap, I guess I kind of deserved what was coming. Lets just say that she went a little crazy while cutting my fringe and I think that I am going to keep my hair in a pony tail for a while.

My companion and I also thought that we saw Batman in the street the other night, but it turned out that it was just a homeless guy with a blanket.

Aside from seeing Bat-homeless-man, Sister B and I have been working really hard this week to find new people to teach. We cut, and were cut by pretty much all of our investigators, so we are looking for a new batch. 

Speaking of batches, cookies sound really good right about now.

Love,
Sister Christensen

Monday, May 23, 2016

5/23/2016: Week 35 - Yet Another Week

Hello!

This week I got up in front of 100 people and gave a talk that I wrote five minutes before hand. In short, the person who was supposed to speak wasn't prepared, so I was invited to get up and speak. So, I did just that. I talked about the Book of Mormon and about the importance of having a testimony of it...all in Portuguese. And you know what? It actually went pretty well. I was just a little bit proud of me. 

We are currently teaching a man named M, who learned about the church when he was living in Portugal. He spoke to the missionaries there, but didn't get baptized. Then, while doing princípios this week, we knocked on his door and asked if he was interested to learn more. He told us, enthusiastically, that he was, and we marked to visit him this week. When we went there, we gave the first lesson, which he understood perfectly. He even made comments throughout the entire lesson. We invited him to read and pray, which he accepted, and then invited him to be baptized, which he also accepted! It was neat!

Love,
Sister Christensen





Monday, May 16, 2016

5/16/2016: Week 34 - Birthday and Elder Holland

This week has been absolutely wonderful!

First of all, I had a birthday last week! Whooo! I feel almost completely the same. For my birthday, I walked a lot, taught people, and talked to a lot of people. When I got home, I made myself a cake and then waited for the other sisters to get home. I then lighted ALL THE CANDLES and we sang as the cake/mini bonfire burned. Then we ate it, and it was great.

I want to say thank you to everyone who sent a Happy Birthday picture to my mom, who sent them to me! I absolutely loved it. You all are marvelous. 

We also had the opportunity to hear from Elder Holland this week, one of the apostles of Jesus Christ. He spoke to all the missionaries. He talked to us about a lot of things, including:

1. Being truly converted to the gospel. He told us that he can't promise us 100 converts, or even 5. But he said that each and every one of us can promise one conversion to the Lord: our own. Just as we are teaching people here, the Lord is always teaching us. And every day we decide what kind of convert we want to be and if we are going to endure to the end. Just as we want to find our investigators strong in the church after 20 years, God wants to find us strong in the church in 20 years. 
2. The Book of Mormon. Holland spoke about the power of the Book of Mormon in everything that we do. It is through the Book of Mormon that we can know if we are in the Church of Christ or not. The Book of Mormon is a miracle, and it creates miracles. He shared the scripture 2 Nephi 33:10-11 with us, and told us that if any person truly believes in Christ, they will believe in the Book of Mormon. The same thing applies for those who truly believe in the Bible (Mormon 7:8-9), because the Book of Mormon testifies of Christ.

It was amazing to hear an apostle of the Lord speak with us. You could feel the authority that he has, and I know without a doubt that he is a man called of God. I feel so grateful that I had the opportunity to be taught, just a little bit, by Elder Holland.

This week, Sister B and I also found a lot of new people to teach, and we are excited to see what happens with them. News to come!

Love,
Sister Christensen



Birthday Girl!

Lots of Candles...Little Cake!

Ecstatic About My Birthday!

Monday, May 9, 2016

5/9/2016: Week 33 - 8 Months Down!

Hello! 

We had transfers this week, but it looks like I will be staying here for another six weeks with Sister B.

And guess what? I have now been on the mission for 8 months! I am almost halfway there! 

This week Sister B and I worked on making contacts with literally everyone. If there was someone in the street, you can be sure that we talked to them. In the end, we taught 53 principles of the gospel to people, and are excited to visit all of the addresses that we received last week. We even got invited to dinner tomorrow!

Other updates:

I talked with my family. Yes, it was great. Thank you for asking.

One of the members here calls me cat face. Because she thinks I look like a cat. 

We had an activity in the church where everyone brought a cake and we played some games and it was great. And cake is better here in Brazil (sorry to all the Americans).

I took a lot of photos with Sister P (a sister I live with) this week...enjoy...and also a weird picture of me during Skype with crazy eyes.

Love,
Sister Christensen 




Monday, April 25, 2016

4/25/2016: Week 31 - Tracting with a 13 Year Old

Well well well. We meet again. 

This week, pretty much nothing happened. Sister B and I walk a lot, talk with everyone, and knock on a ton of doors. However, no matter how many miles we walk, people we talk with, or doors we knock on, we can't change the fact that people have agency, and will choose whether or not they want to accept our message. The only thing we can do is keep working and giving it our all. 

That being said, we did find a new investigator this week named U. He accepted all of our invitations, and is progressing really well. Updates to come.

We also got to go tracting with a 13 year old girl. She is one of the cutest things I have ever seen. She is the rock of her family. Everyone else is either inactive or less active. Yet she wakes up every Sunday to go to church, and wants to serve a mission. She is the example for the rest of her family -- and you can see her love for the gospel shining in her eyes.

-Sister Christensen






Monday, April 18, 2016

4/18/2016: Week 30 - New Place, New Companion

Hi everyone! 

This week I don't have a lot of time, but I have been transferred, and my companion is Sister B who, coincidentally, I had my very first split with. We are opening the area and are working hard to find the people who the Lord has prepared to hear his gospel! 

I hope you all have a good week! 

Sister Christensen

Monday, April 4, 2016

4/4/2016: Week 28 - BATISMO E TRANSFERÊNCIAS

Hello!

This week we had the baptism of R! We met her about two months ago through the help of a member. This member brought her to church, and she loved it. She then proceeded to invite us to her house to hear the missionary lessons. She always said that she felt really good about church, but was afraid to make the commitment to be baptized. We talked to her a lot about trusting in the Lord and how faith casts out fear, and this past Saturday, after General Conference, she was baptized! She is one of the sweetest people I have ever met (and makes one of the best cakes I have ever eaten). I am so proud of her and her decision of faith to follow Christ and be baptized in his name. :)

I am also being TRANSFERRED! I don't know where, I don't know with who, all I know is that I am going to show up in the Rodoviária (bus station) at 9 am tomorrow morning with all of my stuff. Here's to a new adventure!

Love,
Sister Christensen

Monday, March 28, 2016

3/28/2016: Week 27 - Easter Week

Happy Easter!

I spent Easter with the P family. They have five kids. FIVE. So it felt like we were a part of the family but also left me feeling a little homesick. We ate lunch all together, and then the wife brought out chocolate Easter eggs, brigadeiro, and little chocolate balls for dessert. We were all eating as the husband tried to open the package of chocolate balls, when *POOF* the entire pack exploded all over the room. The husband, who has a really serious face, just shrugged, picked up a handful of them and yelled "WAR" and began pelting them at us and at his kids hahaha. The kids then joined in, all throwing them at their dad, and one landed in his mouth, and he just ate it and continued the war. Then the wife joined in, threw one at her husband, and it went up his nose. The war stopped after that.

I also gave a talk in church this week! I am not going to say that it went well, but I will say that I have now given a speech, in Portuguese, in front of a bunch of Brasilieros. 

We also visited with another less active member this week, and she told us that she had been praying for help when two angels (Sister S and I) showed up on her front porch. It's always good to hear that you are an answer to someone's prayer. 

I also ate more cow tongue.

And last, but definitely not least, we were talking to R about the commandments the other day, and Sister S pretty much laid them all down in about two minutes, while challenging her to baptism, which she accepted! It was one of the most powerful lessons I have ever been in. When we were leaving, I got out of the car and almost yelled at her to give me her coffee. She then went into the house, got all the coffee, and handed it over to me. So Sister S and I took some victory photos with the coffee before throwing it triumphantly into the trash.


Love,
Sister Christensen

Bye Bye Coffee!


Monday, March 21, 2016

3/21/2016: Week 26 - My Companion the Pack Mule

Hello Everyone!

This week was a little rough because I hurt my back (curse you messenger bag). I stayed home one day and have been recuperating. Thanks to my wonderful companion, I am feeling much better! This whole week she has been carrying the things of two people. And she does it so happily! I haven't heard her complain about it once. She just loads up the bag and we go to work, singing and playing as usual. She reminded me a lot of Christ. Sometimes, we are unable to carry our own bags. We can't do it ourselves. We need someone willing to take our burdens from us. Christ has already paid the price. We just need to let go and give our bag to Christ. We do our part, and he will handle the rest.

Easter is coming up, and I just want to share my testimony of Christ. I know that He lives. He paid the price for our sins, and because of him, we have hope in this life. We have hope that things will get better. We have hope that we can become better. We can leave behind all of our pain and our worries if we just trust in Him and His atoning sacrifice. Christ loves us. It is because of His love for us that he died, it is because of His love for us that he lives again.

I hope you all have a wonderful Easter!

Love,
Sister Christensen
 

Monday, March 14, 2016

3/14/2016: Week 25 - English Classes and Miracles

Hello all!

This week was really great. It started great, it ended great, and there was a lot of greatness in between. 

First of all, Sister S and I had the opportunity to do a service project in a school. We basically went there, and spoke with students who are currently trying to learn English. We walked into each classroom and introduced ourselves to them in English. The teacher would then ask if anyone understood, and the class would then collectively reply "No...", which is probably good considering that my English is a little iffy right now, and I definitely wasn't speaking very correctly. Then when they learned that we spoke Portuguese, the entire room started to yell and ask us a million questions about the US, English, and what we liked about Brasil. We were basically celebrities. It was pretty cool.

We also had a division this week, and I worked with Sister Q. We were knocking on doors, and we found a man who has been taking care of his wife for five years. She has stayed in the same bed, not talking, not moving, just breathing and opening and closing her eyes, for five years. He told us that he needed someone to help him take care of her, and asked if we knew anyone who was in need of a job. We took down his information and left with a prayer. The next day Sister S and I went to visit a less active member who had recently moved there, and who we knew was searching for a job. We told her about the opportunity, and she got so happy. She told us that she had been praying for a job when we showed up, and she then told us that she would go to church every single week once she had the money to do so. 

We also met a new investigator named B. His wife is an inactive member, and so we had a lesson with them about the Book of Mormon. We explained what it was, and its importance, and then asked him if he was willing to read and pray about it. He responded, "Look... I am going to be really honest with you..." (and at this point we got a little sad because we know how the rest of that sentence usually goes) "... but I am looking for a church." We almost didn't believe that he said that! So then we invited him to church the next day, and he accepted.

At church the next day, we saw B, R, and E. Our class was HUGE! There were 9 people in the class (a mix of less actives and investigators) just from the efforts of Sister S and I this week. We have worked crazily hard to help these people, and it is wonderful to see the fruits of our labors.

Love,
Sister Christensen






Monday, March 7, 2016

3/7/2016: Week 24 - Six Month Mark!

Hello everyone! 

I have officially hit the six month mark! Only one year left and I will be home enjoying the snow and peanut butter.

This week was crazy and a little bit stressful. We had so many things to do and so little time! I got a CPF number here (so I am basically a Brazilian now), and it rained...A LOT!. 

I also got to thinking this week about the work I have done here. While we have been struggling to baptize in this area, we have reactivated a lot of members, including one really neat family. We are currently helping the father overcome some addictions and stay firm in the church so that he will be able to receive the priesthood and baptize his son. The family then will set goals so that they can be sealed together in the temple for all time and eternity. :) It has been truly amazing to watch them grow. You can see how the light of Christ changes people, families, and relationships. 

As missionaries, we also hear a lot of excuses from people about why they can't talk to us, like "I am cleaning the house" or "maybe some other day, if God would want it". But my favorite happened the other day when one man, full of piercings in one ear came out and said the following, before we had even introduced ourselves: "I can't... because I am moving the TV... and he is coming... so its a little... tight." I don't know who was coming or why he was moving the TV, but we left him in peace because three excuses in one has to be a new record! 

Love,
Sister Christensen








Monday, February 29, 2016

02/29/2016: Week 23 - Cow Tongue and Cats

Hello!

I have no time for a lengthy group email today, but seriously, nothing much happened. I will give you a few highlights though:

1. We celebrated Sister S's birthday!

2. I ate cow tongue in a house with 12 cats. It wasn't too bad, but I would never eat it again. The taste is a normal meat taste, but the texture is of the devil, ha ha!

3. We did not go back to the lady living in the house with the 50 wind chimes hanging from her ceiling. She called us, said we were crazy, and told us not to come back. So, you know, whatever.

4. Here are some of this week's photos: me enjoying the rainbow after yet another rain storm, my permanent socks, me searching for new investigators, and a group photo of the Sisters.

Love,
Sister Christensen




Monday, February 22, 2016

2/22/2016: Week 22 - Worst Thing to Happen Yet

Hello!

This week, we had a service project. The other sisters had met a woman on the street who said that she needed help cleaning out a little room. They offered to help her, and arranged for us to go there this past week. 

We all started walking there, thinking that we would sweep, tidy, and mop up this little room and be on our way. We arrived at the house, and a woman opened the door. She hadn't bathed in a while, and the first thing we saw were wind chimes. Fifty of them. Hanging from the ceiling. From that point on, we knew we were in trouble. 

She then showed us the room. Or, better said, she tried to show us the room. The door wouldn't open because there were so many things in it. There were boxes upon boxes of grocery sacks in the room. We started to clean it out, and that's when I realized, I was in a Hoarder's television episode. 

As we began to move boxes, we found some interesting things, including:

1. A box with two rotting pineapples. They had been there long enough to rot through the box and onto the floor. It was also housing a colony or two of bugs, AND growing new pineapple. AND THE WOMAN WANTED TO SEARCH THROUGH THE REST OF THE BOX TO SAVE ONE OLD SHOE!

2. We touched one box, and ten cockroaches ran out into the rest of the garbage. But they weren't normal sized cockroaches. They had probably fed on the rotten pineapple and gained supernatural abilities and size. They were the size of the palm of my hand. 

3. Sacks with old underwear, sacks with shoes that were falling to pieces, a sack with a book about "spiritualism" (basically possession), and some sacks that we didn't even dare open. 

We had to distract the woman to throw all the garbage out, because she was having panic attacks. And we didn't even finish. We have to go back this week with some elders because there are probably rats and scorpions in that room.

But wait, there's more...

We took the rest of the boxes down to the basement. When we opened the door, we saw a little white room. Everything was clean and white. The walls were white, the floor was white, and the ceiling was very very low and also white. In the corner there was a white little bed, all made up nice, with a little white dresser and mirror in the corner. A black dust had settled in the room, and you could tell no one had lived there in a while. It was the creepiest thing I have ever seen. I am pretty sure someone died in there. 

Anyways, that was my week!

Love,
Sister Christensen

P.S. Photos of Minion traffic bumps and a cute dog.