Monday, August 25, 2014

August 25, 2014

Thank you so much for the pictures!  I can attest to feeling a little shell shocked after arriving from a long flight, but I bet Blake was still happy to see friends and family again! It would be pretty hard to describe an entire 2 years of your life especially when new and exciting things are happening every day! I guess that's what a journal is for, and I'm already so grateful for mine. I've been blessed to have seen miracles already, but because things are still incredibly difficult so I hope that my journal helps me remember all the amazing things that are actually happening!
And Blake, feel free to share any of that advice with me whenever you get the chance because I need all the help I can get and remember, I get a slap when I get back so don't forget!
Tell all of the cousins hi and tell Leandra congratulations on her engagement! She'll probably have a child by the time I get back, which is kind of strange to think about, but I'm happy for her!
I bet it was amazing to hear Elder Bednar speak! I couldn't listen to or read too many of their words and testimonies because they're just that inspiring, and I know that their witnesses are true!
It sounds everyone is doing well, and please know that I'm praying for all of you every day! 
Also, if you get the chance, Bennett, Aaron, and Blake, I would love to hear from you about life, what you're studying in the scriptures, and any advice that you want to hear from me or give to me! I really do miss all of you, but I know that you're all doing great things so I don't need to worry.
This last week was full of twists and turns that forced me to revaluate my mindset, attitude, and goal setting strategies, but I think that, at the end of it all, I came out better an I went in and gained new insight into how I can improve as a missionary and a person. I had an interview with the mission president, and he made sure that I was focusing on the right goals and being patient with myself. Through making better goals and really trying to achieve them, I've seen more blessings come into my service so I know that goals really are inspired tools! We've found several potential investigators during the last few days, and even though they may not seem like 金人(golden investigators), that makes me want to do my best even more! We had a lesson with one of them, a Sri Lankan man named A, who though that we were Jehovah's Witnesses, but we still had a good discussion about beliefs and morals and invited him to come to church on Sunday. He was tentative and noncommittal, but I hope that he will still come regardless of his worries because I believe that it really will help him.
How have goals helped all of you in your lives and missions? I would love to hear your words of wisdom so that I can continue to learn and grow!
Most times I still feel like a fish out of water, just kind of out of place, in Japan, but through the ward and missionaries, It's starting to feel more familiar. The Bishop's family has really made transition much easier too! Their mom is the ward choir pianist, which I'm singing in, and is always doing things to help the missionaries. Their little children are great too! They called me     お兄ちゃん yesterday, which means older brother, and I that made me really happy too! I'm really trying to get involved in the ward and let them know that I'm ready to do any and everything that I can to help so that they will desire to join in the hastening of the work. I might end of giving a lesson in Young Men's about Duty to God, and I really just want them to know what they're capable of as priesthood holders. 

Thank you for all that you do and remember the missionaries in your prayers!
Elder Christensen
Hachioji Ward Choir

Famous Japanese cartton character

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

August 19, 2014 First trip to the Tokyo Temple!

I actually haven't needed much Ibuprofen yet, but when I do, I have some handy! Depending on the conversation, I can understand more or less of what people are saying because a lot of times they just use unfamiliar words. Plus, people here do speak really fast usually. Although, ward members are nice about slowing down a little for me! 
I hope you told the cousins hi for me! They'll all be so old when I get back so tell them not to change too much or get married because I don't think I could handle that! We're they going to be in Boise for Blake's homecoming? Make sure to take tons of pictures of that and the temple groundbreaking and put them up on Facebook too! I miss that little son of a gun so he better write me some personal emails! We're allowed to use Facebook in Tokyo South, but the purpose is to strengthen members, investigators, and friends using the gospel and only doing things that reflect our calling as missionaries. I don't know a ton of people yet, but hopefully as my mission progresses, I'll be able to use it to really help others!
I remember those long, conditioning practices during the summer so you have my sympathy Aaron! I actually miss those long workouts now that I only have a half an hour to exercise.mI miss choir too so enjoy it Bennett! Being in choir helped me so much and made high school amazing!
Starting conversations has been one of the harder things for me, especially when I can't see any immediate things that we have in common, but I've made a goal to just talk to people and give it my best! Most of the recent direction that I've received has been to just go for it, stat positive, and make the most of every opportunity, and so far, that mindset has helped us make a lot more progress!

Our investigator cut off contact with us, which was actually what we think is best. He had expressed to us that he really didn't care about learning the gospel anymore.  He really just wanted to hang out, but we told him that we couldn't just hang out because we needed to get out and work, which annoyed him. I hope that he can realize that we just want to help him better his life, and hopefully, he will experience a change of heart. We do have several other people who could become new investigators and several new people who we have just contacted recently so things are looking up! 
There really is power in looking for and being thankful for the little, everyday miracles that we experience, and so far, that lesson has been one of the most helpful for me! In the last few days, I've had people come up and start conversations with me, had amazing conversations with people, and even been invited to someone's house for some food  so that we could tell them what we do! Miracles do happen, but sometimes, we just need to be paying close attention and always be grateful! We had the opportunity to do some "blitzes" during the last week, which is where a bunch of missionaries go to one area, switch companions, and go out into the world to talk to people! Almost every time, miracles have happened, and even when they haven't happened to me, I've been amazed at the results of dedicated service!

I remember hearing conference talks about that very thing in the past, but I never realized how incredibly important it is. So many people, myself included, desire these big miracles, not as a witness or a sign, but as an answer to prayer and obedience. However, if we aren't truly grateful for even the smallest of blessings, we probably won't receive anything else. Heavenly Father teaches us line upon line and precept upon precept. When we are faithful and grateful for the blessings and knowledge that we have received, God will bless us even more until we receive a fullness of truth.
2 Nephi 28:30

30 For behold, thus saith the Lord God: I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom; for unto him that receiveth I will give more; and from them that shall say, We have enough, from them shall be taken away even that which they have.
I know that if we strive for an attitude of gratitude (do you remember that, mom?!) that we can be blessed so much more than ever before!
Good luck with all of your endeavors and keep Japan in your prayers!
Elder Christensen
1. Tokyo Temple!
2. Temple trip

Monday, August 11, 2014

August 11, 2014 日本から What's up!

日本から What's up!

Everything's going pretty well for me, and even the hard times are getting a little better so that's always a blessing! . The biggest struggle for me is understanding right now, and it really makes communicating difficult when you don't know what they said. I think I'm getting better, but sometimes, people still assume that I can't speak at all because I'm new, which is a little frustrating too. 

We have a weekly English class, and a lot of people actually come! We had around 35 come last week, and even though most of them aren't investigators, I know that our efforts aren't in vain. They're all really fun to talk to, and It's always fun to tell them about my wonderful family! I've even had the opportunity to talk about family history with some of them, and they were really impressed with family search and all that it offers. 
Bennett and Aaron: I'm looking forward to those emails! I've heard great things about Brother Wilcox so I bet that was an amazing experience!
Tell all the family hi for me! I wish that I could be there to spend time with all of you, but since I can't be there, make sure you make the most of it for me! 
What else do you have planned before school starts up again? 
Is everyone ready for Blake to come home?
How's dad's week been?

I've actually been thinking a lot about the same sort of thing that Jason Rock talked about, and it's been frustrating that some of our investigators don't have and don't really want a testimony of the Book of Mormon. One of our investigators is just really apathetic about any commitments and hasn't really wanted to make a change. He's received all of the lessons and even has a baptismal date, but he doesn't have the Spirit in his life, which is sometimes very apparent. He really just doesn't have a solid foundation of faith and always questions why he needs to do things when he doesn't really want to do them. Even when we explains the possible blessings, he doesn't feel like he needs those blessings and believes that he is fine without them. I wasn't really sure what to say at that point, and honestly, I still don't know how to help him understand the importance of the things we teach. The last few weeks have really forced me to work on my abilities as a teacher and to teach things simply and powerfully with the Holy Ghost.  No matter how logical our words are, they won't make them want to change unless they receive a witness that it is true. I'm so grateful for all of your examples to me and for helping me gain a testimony of the truth! I may not know very many things for certain, but I know that this church is true, and that through honestly and humbly reading the Book of Mormon, we can know of a surety that it is, in fact, true. No falsified account could make me feel the way that it does or inspire millions to become the best that they can be. It has been written that "By their fruits ye shall know them." I will let the fruits of the Book of Mormon and this church speak for themselves and bear witness of their truthfulness. I love this gospel with all my heart and soul! It has changed me for the better, and I know that it can do the same for anyone who earnestly desires it.
I love you all!

Elder Christensen
Bishop and his family

Hachioji at night

ping pong night

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Adam's first day!

Meeting the trainer, Elder Tipene

New Missionaries!

President and Sister Wada

Monday, August 4, 2014

Hachoji is where Adam landed! Aug. 4, 2014

Adam's first apartment in Hachoji

Parade in Hachoji
Dear Family & Friends,
Gaia, there's so much to say, but I want you to know that I love all of you more than you know!

Monday: Waking up really early is never fun, but when you're about to leave for Japan, nothing can dampen that excitement! We gathered all our things, said goodbye to those who weren't leaving yet, and hopped on a bus to the train station. 

 We actually lost most of Monday and Tuesday while we were flying to Japan, but I'll share what happened anyway! The plane ride was pretty normal except for the occasional Japanese announcements, which I still couldn't understand, but I did try! Customs was actually completely empty so we made our way through and met President and Sister Wada, the AP's, and some of the missionaries who were about to head home. Right away, I knew that was going to love the Wada's! I couldn't have been blessed with a more amazing mission president, and I can't wait to learn as much as I can from him and Sister Wada! They were both fluent in English, which was really helpful. He worked in the US for several years, went to BYU, and served his mission there too! It was a pretty long drive to the mission home from the airport so our AP outlined the schedule for the next couple of days and gavels a mini tour of Tokyo as we drove along. Honestly, I had a massive headache for most of it and just really wanted to sleep, but I really learned a lot and felt a little felt about the next several days. We arrived at the mission home after dark (Japan doesn't have daylight savings ) and when we arrived, there was a dinner of hot soup and rolls ready and waiting! Have I already said that the Wada's are amazing?! We had some training after dinner, but we were definitely ready to sleep after that!
On Wednesday morning we went for a run with President Wada and ended with some Radio Taiso, which is pretty much the most fun way of contacting ever created. Every morning, a ton of elderly people go out to the parks, turn on their radios, and do a stretching/exercising routine. Breakfast for the first few days was basically giving us one last taste of American food and we had pancakes and French toast on Thursday, which wasn't exactly Japanese, but I didn't really mind because they were delicious. After some training, we went streeting for the first time. My temporary companion's name was Elder Clements, and together, we set out. Most people were a little peeved/confused when we tried to take to them, but we managed to have a couple solid conversations in the hour that we were out. Looking back after a week, there were definitely some things that I would have done differently, but it helped build some needed confidence.
ThursdayThursday was special because I got my new companion, Elder Tipene, who is from New Zealand, and got settled into my new area in Hachoji or 八丰子. He's been on his mission for several months so he's pretty experienced. Most of the missionaries are still pretty new though. He showed me around the main part of the city and we met with one of our investigators, Wei, who is from Hong Kong. There are 10 missionaries in Hachioji.  6 elders and 4 sister, and one of them, Sister Gazdik, was in my district!

FridaySaturday, and Sunday were all a little different that's normal because the Hachoji Matsuri, a huge festival, was going on! Most of the people from the area moved into several city blocks, which just happened to be in a place where we aren't allowed to actively proselyte in. We visited the festival for a little on Saturday, but mostly, we spent time with investigators, members (one of my favorite members is Misu Kyodai/brother), or trying to find contacts using the English class that we offer as a conversation starter. Most people don't really care that much about learning English, but occasionally, we found people who were interested and will maybe come to the class this week! 

This Sunday was both one of the most nervous and exciting times of my entire life! They actually have a ton of members here so there is a ward! I really wanted to make an impression on the ward members during that first meeting so that they would welcome me with open arms. Since I still can't speak very well, I was worried that people might avoid me because I couldn't say very much, and at first, that seemed to be happening. After bearing my testimony in Testimony Meeting, though, many more people came up and introduced themselves, and I just hope that I'll be able to remember them all! That night, the missionaries from our area were all invited to one of the member's homes for dinner and a lesson, and it was an amazing experience! They made an incredible meal complete with root beer to drink and cheesecake for dessert! We played some church vocab games, and when it was time to end, we sang a couple hymns! They even had me sing a solo because I went to choir practice and said that I love singing! The members in our ward are really incredible people! They role play with the missionaries to help with lessons, drive us to activities, organize food drives for the missionaries, and are just perfect examples of disciples of Christ! There's still so much that I need to learn and improve on, and sometimes, it feels like things are moving so slowly. I haven't really had the opportunity to teach very much due to many different conflicts. Most of our investigators have either received all the lessons and don't want to be baptized or still have no desire to really learn about our message, but I know that if they can feel the joy that comes from living gospel and feel the power of the Spirit, they will gain that desire over time. Charity really is the most important aspect of the gospel. Without it, there is very little that we can accomplish (Moroni 7). 
I love you all and can't wait to hear from you again!

Elder Christensen