Thursday, July 24, 2014

5, 4, 3, 2, 1 blast off!!!

I got the final package, and it was a welcome surprise to find such a wonderful gift waiting for me in the mail room! My flight plan is a direct flight from Salt Lake to Tokyo, which is going to be so much fun!!!!! We lose about a day and a half to travel, and we don't get it back until two years from now! We're leaving the MTC at 6:30 AM, and our flight is scheduled to leave at 11:30 AM. I'll probably end up calling between 8:30 and 11:30 AM, but it all kind of depends on how quickly we can get through traffic and the airport security. Hopefully, there aren't any snags, and I'll try to call around 9:30 or 10:00 AM. If we plan for that, then I can try my best to be ready by then!
Props to dad for making it most of the way up Hyndman two days in a row! It's too bad that you weren't able to make it the whole way because I remember that last 1000 ft being a really fun part of the climb, and it sounds like you're breathing dominance has clearly been maintained over the years so good job! I don't know how you stay in such good breathing shape, but if you have any tips, I would love to know!
Bennett, I'm jealous that you get to sleep in so late! After two more years of waking up at 6:00 or 6:30 AM, I'm sure it will be a welcome change to sleep that long!
I heard about Harrison's mission call, and it makes sense! Although, it would have been fun to have him join me in Japan! 

These last few weeks have been an incredible blessing to me, and during that time, I've learned so many valuable tips, gained so many new insights, and strengthened my own abilities and confidence in this work. We were blessed to hear from T.C Christensen, the director of 17 Miracles and other church films, and Stanley G. Ellis, a member of the Seventy. In the first devotional, he discussed the incredible faith of the pioneers and the importance of the foundation that they established. However, the main focus of the devotional was to help us understand the absolute necessity of having faith and being prepared to do whatever is required of us. The pioneers were perfect examples of people who pressed forward despite contrary conditions and seemingly impossible hardships, and their faith is something that we all should strive to emulate in our own lives. Hard times will come and beliefs/hopes will be tested, but a truly strong and committed individual will continue to press forward no matter how many times they stumble and fall, a loved one is lost along the way, or the pain and suffering that they must endure through. Trials will most certainly come. If we seek consolation and solace in the philosophies of men and the precepts of mortality, these trials will overcome us because such beliefs have no substance or sustainability and change with convenience, but if we anchor our lives to the spiritual and seek strength from eternal truths, there is no need to worry or despair. The other part of his devotional pertained to remaining worthy, willing, and able to respond to any need that is required of us. He gave the example of Ephraim Hanks, the man who rescued the handcart pioneers, and stressed that, had he been unprepared or unwilling to go to their rescue at that exact moment, the pioneers would have most certainly have succumbed to freezing cold and starvation. As servants of God, missionaries have the responsibility and the obligation to keep themselves prepared to do whatever is required of them. Our responsibility is to serve those around us, and in order to do that, we must be worthy. 
I also had the opportunity to watch a ton of the Bible videos on for my personal study time, and they were so amazing! If you ever get the chance, please watch as many as you can! I focused on Christ's Sermon on the Mount, but I also watched many of the others that depicted other miracles and teachings of Him and the apostles. There were so many incredible things to be learned from them. As I have prepared to leave for Japan this coming Monday, I had been searching for confidence builders where ever I could find them. I know that those things in those videos and also from the rest of the scriptures are true and can greatly benefit our lives if we seek to apply them!

And just some travel details: I leave for Japan on Monday, July 28 and fly straight to Tokyo from Salt Lake so my next email will be from Japan, and I will probably have had some great experiences!

I love you all and wish you the best,
Elder Christensen

1. Saying goodbye to Sister Black, one of our teachers
2. Ellsworth Sensei
3. Red Tie Day
4. Me and the Korean Elders (We played soccer together a ton over the last few weeks)

Adam and President Stevenson

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Adam received his flight itinerary to Japan!!

July 17, 2014

This week was both rewarding and incredibly trying at the same time, and it's surprising how frequently those two situations go hand in hand. I'm not going to lie. There were some moments where it felt like I hadn't actually learned any Japanese at all, and I had suddenly regressed to my first week at the MTC. We had the opportunity to Skype call some volunteers who are living in Tokyo right now, but when we were talking, it felt like my mind just went blank. I honestly couldn't think of anything to say, and I'm sure that it was quite the awkward experience for everyone! The volunteer was very patient, and while it was probably hard to understand our words, I hope that we were able to communicate our message through emotion. Some days, it feels like everything is a struggle. You forget vocab that you just learned, stumble over sentences that should be easy, and listening to Japanese just gives you a headache. These days are certainly the most difficult to push through, but I also learn the most from them. Reflecting on those trying times helps me to better understand my own weaknesses and failings, and despite my embarrassment and frustration, I know that I can and will get better! Along with the frustrating times, I've also experienced times where I've felt the comfort and peace that comes from missionary service. There is no greater joy than teaching others of truth and watching them gain a testimony of it themselves! I've never considered myself the greatest teacher, and before my mission, I felt that, as long as I understood the correct answer, it didn't matter what everyone else thought. Now, I can't imagine not sharing what I know to be true! The gospel of Jesus Christ is of eternal and universal worth. It can be applied to any and all fields of life, and if one, acting in faith, adheres to its principles despite trials and struggles, they will undoubtedly come to a knowledge of its truthfulness and experience true joy in their life. We need not struggle through life without a sense of purpose or a hope for something better. As Elder Jeffrey R. Holland testified, 
"because Jesus walked such long, lonely path utterly alonewe do not have to do so. His solitary journey brought greacompany for our little version of that path—the merciful care of our Father in Heaven, the unfailing companionship of this Beloved Son, the consummate gift of the Holy Ghostangels in heaven, family members on both sides of the veil,prophets and apostles, teachers, leaders, friends. All of these and more have been given as companions for our mortal journebecause of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the Restoration of His gospel. Trumpeted from the summit of Calvary is the truth that we will never bleft alone nor unaided, even if sometimes we may feel that we are. Truly the Redeemer of us all said: 'will not leave you comfortless: [My Father and]will comto you [and abide with you].' ".

We should always remember that, no matter how alone, abandoned, and utterly defeated we feel, we are never truly alone nor are we failures. We only have to make the choice to endure once. We don't need to reinvent the wheel over and over again. 

As Stephen E. Robinson said in a talk about enduring to the end

testimony isn’t like hypothesis in science, which may be supported by evidence one day and destroyed by it the next. It is conviction based on the evidence of things not seen that some things are eternalltrue. (See Heb. 11:1.) The provisionally converted are those who just haven’t found reason to leave—yet.

once knew man who had to decide whether to pay his tithing every time his check came, whether to go to his meetings every time they were held, whether to take an   alcoholic drink every time he was offered one. Finally friend asked him: “Why can’t you just decide once and for all which side you’re on? Why do you have to re-examine your loyalty every time decision is called for? You are spirituallreinventing the wheel over and over again, and you will never make any progress until yocan build on what you alreadknow.”
few weeks later he called hifriend and asked for ride to some stake meetings. The friend was pleased he was going, and when he told him so, the man responded: “You  know, wouldn’t like it if my wife told me she had to decidevery morning whether she still loved me or not,or if she told me she only stayed with mbecause she hadn’t   found reason to leave—yet. guess the Lord is entitled tmore of commitment than that from me. I’m ready to stop reinventing the wheel and move on.”
I love you all and wish you the best,
Elder Christensen