Monday, October 31, 2016

The last 6 weeks ... and the first 6 weeks

 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.
Things have gotten a little interesting here in Los Altos. Let me explain.

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 transfer, and to be at the office at 8 am the next morning for the 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!

I love you all! Have a great week!

Hermana Christensen

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Lowest of the lows to the highest of the highs

 Chick-fil-a after the hospital

sleep over

Disclaimer right from the start, this is going to be a long one. I've attached some pictures at the end, and so if you don't want to read everything, check those out and then scan for anything that interests you. Also I'm not being disobedient, we went to the temple this morning, and so P-day was changed.

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

Two conferences is better than one!

 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!

Hermana Christensen