18 months, 9 baptisms, 8 companions, 4 areas.
Those are the numbers, there are more, the number of times I taught
the Restoration, the number of miles I biked, the number of people I
talked to on the street.
But the numbers aren't important. For each of those numbers I see a
face or a place. Krystal, Carlos, Aurelia, Joaquin, Vianne, Lorena,
Yuri, Juanito and Kristian. Hermanas Murdock, Diaz, Austin, Glenn,
Ferguson, Schmutz, Johnson and Zohner. Rimgrove, San Gabriel, Canyon
Branch and Los Altos Branch. And now it has come to an end.
I cannot fully express all of the feelings I currently have. I'm a
little bit nervous, scared, and excited. I don't think the full force
of what is happening has hit me yet. We will spend a few more hours
here at the office and then have a dinner and family home evening at
the mission home. Then those flying home will go to their host
families, and my parents will pick me up. Tomorrow we drive home and
at 6:00 I will be released as a missionary. I don't know where the
time has gone.
There are times that I wish I could catch in a bottle and save
forever. All of the times we had correlation at the Habit, or the
times I ate elote with Hermana Diaz. The temple trips, the baptisms,
and the General Conferences watched. The times I have been brought to
my knees in prayer and the feelings of peace that have come after. I
have come to know my Savior, personally and individually. I have
helped others come to know Him.
This mission is only the beginning. My greater mission is still to
come. There are still people to teach and to bless. There are still
those who need help and strength. There is still more for me to learn.
As president Kimball said, "your mission is preparation, it is your
school for eternity." And it has just begun.
Thank you for all of your love and support. It has meant so much to
me. Hurrah for Zion!
Hermana Anna Christensen
California Arcadia Mission
June 2015 - December 2016
Monday, November 28, 2016
This was a full week with Thanksgiving, two baptisms in the branch and the new Christmas video!
we went to lunch. It was a huge family meal with a family in the English ward, the Taylors and the zone leaders. It was so fun. We are outside and there was a ton a food. Afterward they had us do some service, mainly hanging up some Christmas lights and other outside
Christmas decorations. It was all worth it. Then we did training and language study and had time to walk out to our dinner appointment with the branch president's family. (The elders had the car). There we had Kentucky fried chicken and tamales with flan and cake for dessert. A very good day.
Then Saturday and Sunday the branch had 2 eight year old baptisms and so we ended up helping out with both. We were okay with it though because I love baptisms, be they for 8 year olds or converts. The one on Saturday was for a cute little girl and the one on Sunday was for the two little boys we have been teaching for the last month or so. There was a little drama with that one. The dad of one of the boys didn't give permission for his son to be baptized, so we spent the whole week praying that he would only to have him call us Saturday night to say no again. Then Sunday morning, as we were making the program for the baptism, Elizabeth, the mom, ran into the office to say that the dad had changed his mind and had given his permission! We all nearly started crying. It was a true miracle.
Also this week it didn't just rain, it poured. Right as we were out walking around. Fortunately we had the car that day, so we didn't get completely soaked. The elders did. We felt bad. But we got two new investigators out of it because people feel bad for us when it's raining.
And finally the new Christmas video! This year the theme is light the world, with 25 days of service leading up to Christmas. Go to Mormon.org to learn more. I'm so excited. One of my favorite parts of Christmas is all of the lights, because they remind me of the greatest light of all, our Savior Jesus Christ. Through Him we can rise above the darkness around us and become more than we ever thought possible. And then we have the opportunity to be smaller lights, to help guide others to him.
Thank you for all of your love and support! Only two more E-mails to go!
Monday, November 21, 2016
A slight preface: I was emotionally exhausted and out of time to e-mail so this week's e-mail comes courtesy of Hermana Johnson. Welcome to the mind of my companion.
We had a really great week :) lemme share some of our highlights!
1. We've taught SO many more lessons than we've been able to lately, which is awesome! It feels so good to have investigators who are truly progressing, who you can SEE change. It's been amazing teaching Roger and seeing how well he just understands and loves and accepts what we've taught him. He loves all the commandments we've taught about and is so excited to live them. Enthusiasm like that is AWESOME ❤️
2. We got a new car! That's just been so fun ;) we used to have the oldest car in the mission, so it's a nice change!
3. CONSEGUÍ UN WAFFLE MAKER!!!! ETERNAL shoutout to an Elder Nielsen who's serving in Bel 1—my homeland! Having served there, I happen to know that the elder's apartment there had a waffle maker. And because Elder Nielsen is also training, he's been at the training meetings with us. And SO, we asked if he'd be willing to part with it and send it across the mission. Let me just tell you, homemade waffles are the best. I haven't been so happy in a long time! (Okay, slight exaggeration, but whatever)
4. Carne asada at the branch president's house. 'Nuff said.
5. Receiving 5 invites to different thanksgiving dinners. I am so excited ;) we will FEAST.
6. Our ward's pre-Thanksgiving celebration dinner extravaganza thing. All you need in life is good food (preferably tamales) and good music ;) and Latinos always have both! Probs the best part I've ever been to
So yes :) in light of Thanksgiving, I'm so so grateful for so many things. I'm grateful I get to be a missionary during this holiday season again; for the chance to serve here in Los Altos and meet all
these AMAZING people; for the Gospel and the indescribable impact it's had on my life; for my family and friends—both home and here (because these people ARE my family now ❤️); for good waffles.... and so many other things!! Living in a spirit of thanksgiving is the best, happiest way to live, no doubt about it :)
Hope y'all have an amazing Thanksgiving! Tell me what you're grateful for!
Monday, November 7, 2016
Monday, October 31, 2016
mini mission with Diana
ward Halloween party with Nigel,our skeleton frog
These are honestly 5 of the best elders I have ever served around. They have gone above and beyond for us these last 6 weeks. And Juju in the background is really cute.
Last Monday Hermana Johnson and I were at the mall, just enjoying P-day, when we sat down for a minute to rest. That was when the phone rang. I looked at it, saw it was the assistants, and said "I think this one's for you" and handed the phone to Hermana Johnson. However after about 30 seconds the phone got handed back to me. That was when Elder Sowards told me I would be training a new missionary next trainers meeting. I was honestly shocked, mostly because I have been in the area longer, and I'll finish my mission in 6 weeks, so I won't be finishing her training. It's a strange thought, but I'm trying not
to focus on it.
We tried to keep the rest of the week as normal as possible. At the trainers meeting I again was told by Hermana Villanueva to rest as much as possible before Monday so we still had to take it pretty slow. But there were some bright moments.
Mini mission: this week we took advantage of the car, and Diana, the branch president's daughter's desire to serve a mission, and had a mini mission with her. The way it worked was we picked her up in the early morning and had studies with her, and then went out and worked until about 4. She was exhausted by the end, but had a great time. We felt bad, because it was one of those days where no one was home all day long, so we only had 2 lessons, but it was okay. As we told her later, it was a pretty accurate day in the mission. The best part, she still has a burning desire to serve. This kid is my favorite.
Lessons: this week we had a few really cool lessons, well really experiences with the Spirit. The first was with a woman named Alondra. We had a pretty good lesson with her, nothing special really, but at the end she told us how she had been feeling so down during the day, as if no one actually loved her, and so she decided to pray, and
immediately after we texted her to see how she was doing. It was such a small thing, but to her it was the answer to her prayer. Then, on Sunday, a man just walked in off the street to church. His name is Roger, and because he lives in Hacienda Heights and wants to come to a Spanish branch, (he speaks fluent English and Spanish), we grabbed him and had a quick lesson. His back story is absolutely crazy, I'll tell it in full detail a little later, but he has the desire and is searching for the gospel. We set him on date for the 26th of November, but we might move it up. We'll see.
Ward trunk or treat: it was so fun! It was combined with the English ward and I think they all underestimated how many people would come. We were in charge of counting everyone and we got in between 160 and
170. Possibly more. I had a couple close calls, we have learned from sad experience that I need to eat 3 meals a day and not be on my feet or in stressful situations for too long right now, my head gets a little funny. But I got through it, and it was worth it because we got to hear the transfer news in person instead of getting a phone call. The verdict is, both of us will be staying here! I will still be training, but Hermana Johnson will also be here. We're not entirely sure yet how it will work, but it will be fun. And it probably means that Hermana Johnson will finish my trainee's training. It certainly brought a lot of peace. In other news both the elders will be staying the same, though we are losing Elder Bentley and Elder Pao from the English ward. It's going to be a good 6 weeks!
Thursday, October 20, 2016
Chick-fil-a after the hospital
Our week last week started out pretty well. We had interviews with our mission president (by the way, he says hi, mom and dad) and then we went to get our bikes at the church and bike to dinner. We hadn't even made it 10 minutes up the street on our bikes though when a wrench was thrown in the fan. Only it wasn't a wrench, it was a rock, and it wasn't a fan, it was my front tire, and I went down hard. My companion ran back, and dragged me and my bike out of the road with some help from a very sweet couple that stopped to help. We called our zone leaders for help, and the asked if we could get ourselves up to the church, which we did, where they met us with dinner (as our dinner appointment was now out of the question). It turns out a member had given them enough food for about 10 people (there are 3 of them) and so they shared with us. The best part though was the chocolate cake. Normally I'm not a huge fan of chocolate cake, but this cake had caramel throughout, whipped cream frosting and toffee crumbles on top. After a traumatic incident it probably saved my life.
The next morning (Wednesday) we thought I had gotten away pretty easy. I was fairly stiff had sore, had some minor scratches on my hands, some pretty bad road rash on my elbow and knee, and various bruises. We were grateful because it could have been so much worse. We were ready to go about our day as normal until studies. As I tried to study, I had a pounding headache, I was dizzy and nauseous and I couldn't focus on anything. My companion made me call the nurse, who told us that we should get to a hospital as soon as we could. So eternal shout out to Hermana Maldonado who came and dropped us off at the hospital in Glendora so I could get checked out. And it turns out I must have hit my head (I thought I hadn't for a while, but I did eventually find a sore spot) and probably blacked out for a second, and successfully gave myself a minor concussion. So lots of rest and fluids and no driving, bike riding, or deep thinking for me for the next few weeks. Fortunately for us the hospital was right down the street from Chik-fil-a (benefits of serving in an area for 6 months, you know where all the good stuff is) and so we got lunch before hopping on a bus home. And a shout out goes to our elders for buying us a dozen donuts and 4 bottles of Gatorade to help with our confinement to the apartment.
Life has been pretty quiet since then. I keep being stubborn and trying to work harder than I should, and so Hermana Villanueva finally laid down the law and said rest on the days we don't have the car (basically dinner appointments and nothing else) and then I can take it easy on the days we have the car. Wednesday morning was probably my lowest point. That was when Hermana Villanueva called, just as we were on our way to district meeting. I just felt so useless. My mindset was sort of if I can't teach then what's the point of being a missionary?I spent a good portion of my day reflecting, just trying to make sense of it all. After talking through a lot with my companion and spending some time talking to Heavenly Father through prayer, I have come to the conclusion that there are other ways to serve, and I can still serve even if it's at a lower capacity than normal.
That was all reconfirmed this morning sitting in the temple. I love the temple. It is the house of the Lord. The first thought that entered my mind when I entered the Celestial room and that has still stayed with me is 'it's all going to be okay. Don't worry. Trust me, and it will all be okay.' There I could feel an overwhelming sense of peace and love, as well as the Lord's approval. It was amazing.
The temple trip itself was out of the ordinary. Sister Rozsa, the stake president's wife took us up, and she got permission for us and 4 other sisters to sleep over at her house the night before, so we didn't have to be up so ridiculously early. Then this morning before heading out we made a quick stop at the church to pick up 3 more sets
of missionaries making the grand total 13 missionaries and Sister Rozsa all in a 15 passenger van. There were donuts to share, great hymns and great times. It was certainly an experience.
And so there it is! The latest events in our lives. I will be writing again on Monday, and it should be a short one, there probably won't be that much to report. I love you all! Thank you for all of the love and support you give me. Stay safe out there!
Monday, October 3, 2016
Women's conference with friends
Exchanges with Hna Schmutz
We bought matching Harry Potter t-shirts. We are two peas in a pod.
This week we were blessed with not only having General Conference but also zone conference! We spent so much time at the stake center it felt like we had moved in. But it was amazing! It was all such a spiritual high.
It all started with the Women's Session last Friday. We ended up watching it in Spanish (fun fact the conference was showed in 4 different languages at our stake center, English, Spanish, Chinese and Korean). The spirit was so strong. I especially loved President Uchdorf's talk at the end. I love how he emphasized that we need to keep going, to the last door on the last floor. It really stuck with me. As some of you might know, this is my second to last transfer as a missionary, (meaning I'll be home in early December) and I've begun to reflect on my mission. Something I have learned though is the principle of enduring to the end. It doesn't matter what I have done earlier, it all depends on how I finish, and I plan on finishing strong!
The next conference was zone conference. It was honestly one of the best that I have attended. We learned about a new goal for the mission, to have a White Christmas, or to have every missionary companionship baptize in the month of December. It's an exciting goal, and I can't wait to see how it turns out. I also really loved the part taught by our zone leaders. They taught about the Atonement and sacrifice, especially the sacrifices that need to be made as missionaries. There's a quote by James E. Faust that says, "Everything has a price. There is a price to pay for success, fulfillment accomplishment and joy. There are no freebies. If you don't pay the price that is needed for success you will pay the price of failure." That is a price that needs to be paid daily. As missionaries we need to put more wants and desires aside and focus on what the Lord wants, and let our will be swallowed up in His. It's not easy but it's worth it.
Finally General Conference! It was amazing! A pattern I noticed this year was a return to the basics. Talks were about the Restoration, the Plan of Salvation, and the Doctrine of Christ, which are the first things we teach as missionaries. There were also talks about various Commandments, especially prayer. It's hard for me to pick out what my favorite talk was because there were so many good ones. I loved Elder Rasband's, President Nelson's and Elder Oaks'. They are all worth studying again.
So it was an amazing week. We are still talking to everyone and are beginning to see the fruits of it. Also, coming this week, we are beginning a car share with our elders! So I'm back in the driver's seat, at least for the time being. It should help a ton, especially with getting members in lessons. It's harder to say no when you offer to pick them up.
Have a great week!
Monday, September 19, 2016
1. How many missionaries does it take to put 2 bikes on a bike rack?
2 and 3. Ice cream and Korean barbecue. Yes that is squid Robert is cooking.
4. The baptism!
5. Claudia and us in our folklórico outfits.
A traditional dance from Mexico estado de Morelos, which is just south of Mexico City. We're pretty easy to spot. We later received comments like:
"You danced so beautifully!"
"Son casi mexicanas! (You are almost Mexican)"
And my personal favorite:
"You should have been born in Central or South America, that's why you went to a Spanish speaking mission."
This week had a lot of highs and lows. Basically we were on a rollercoaster to whole time. But here we are at the end and all is well. Here are the highlights...
Bike troubles (because always)
We made the mistake of thinking that we were out of the woods when it came to bike troubles this week, only to be hit by a flat tire on Tuesday, a flat tire on Friday, (making our grand total of flat tires this transfer 5) and another trip out to the bike shop in Monrovia for Hermana Johnson's derailer. Funny story actually. We had gotten off our bikes to walk across a cross walk, and crossing the first street was fine, and then as we were crossing the second street, la bicicleta se explotó. The derailer was actually touching the back tire and the chain was all over the place. We called our zone leaders, who have a car and a bike rack, and begged them to take our bikes to the church for us because it was impossible to ride, or really walk them. They came, and were in a trio, so picked us up as well and gave the bikes a ride back to our apartment and us a ride back to the church. Putting the bikes on the bike rack was a little sketchy because they didn't have any bike bars, but they all made it back on one piece. And thanks to Hermana Borrayo we made it Monrovia and back without too much trouble.
Now for one of the biggest miracles I have ever seen on my mission. My first time here in La Puente a man named Jeferi was baptized along with his cousin. A few weeks ago Jeferi's wife daughter and son arrived from Honduras. The elders have been teaching them and this week everything fell into place. Wednesday was the signing of the marriage papers, held in the branch president's office, but they let us come anyway, Thursday was the baptismal interview and Saturday was the baptism! Let me just say, I love this family. I have adopted Claudia and Justin as my little brother and sister, and I love Lydia and Jeferi just as much. It was such a blessing to see the change in each of them, to see Claudia become happier and more confident, Justin a little less crazy, and Lydia just more secure and happy. They are already planning their temple sealing in a year, which is amazing that they already understand that that is the end goal. Also Lydia is an amazing cook. Just saying.
We had quite a few cultural experiences this week. Tuesday Robert and Darlene, two of my favorite members treated us to Korean barbecue. They way it worked is it was all you can eat, and they would bring you three plates of meat at a time and you would cook it yourself on a little grill on the table and then eat it with rice and rice paper. Well, we got our money's worth. 16 plates of meat worth in fact. Then afterward they took us out for ice cream, to a place called Afters, which has all sorts of ice cream flavors, the cookie butter is excellent, and make ice cream sandwiches out of warm donuts. It was delicious, and I don't know if I have ever been so full in my life. Then later in the week was the Cultural celebration! It included food of every type imaginable, and traditional dances from many of the Central and South American countries. And this year we got to participate. It was honestly one of the funnest nights of my life. I love how rich Latino culture is, and how open they can be about sharing it.
Now the last bit of news, another transfer has past. The good thing is Hermana Johnson and I are staying together! Also Elder Chavarria is training and Elder Pugh is off the be a zone leader in East LA. Elder Pao is now our district leader, but he is in a trio with the zone leaders. Also we now have Chinese sisters in our zone! That's about it transfer wise, and here's to a new one!
I never said it would be easy, I only said it would be worth it.
This morning Darlene asked me if I could serve my mission again would I do it. I thought about it for a minute, and I said yes, a million times over yes. I'm not going to lie, sometimes I don't think it's worth it. Missionary work is just that, work, and sometimes it's not very rewarding. But then I think about small moments, like giving one of the hermana's a hug, or a small child a high five, or when my eyes well up to see the smile on someone's face after they are baptized, or to feel the spirit so strongly it brings you to tears during a lesson. Those are the moments that mean everything. The mission call letter states "Greater blessings and more happiness than you have yet experienced await you as you humbly and prayerfully serve the Lord in this labor of love among His children." I love that sentence for so many reasons. This mission has brought me to my knees in prayer more times than you could imagine. It has brought tears to my cheeks, both tears of sadness and tears of joy and gratitude. I have arrived at home, at the point of collapsing physically, but with a heart full and ready and willing to keep on going. This is a labor of love, and love is what keeps me going each day. Love for my family, love for the people, and most importantly love for the Lord. And so yes, it is all worth it.