Monday, September 29, 2014

September 29, 2014 All are safe in Hachioji

Dear Family,
Everything's still going on like normal in Hachioji, so It haven't heard much about what happened 
​with the volcano eruption ​
or what's being done to help. Without google or anything, it's pretty hard to find
​ out​
 about anything hats happening, but that's ok.
Thank you so much for helping the with the
​ family search 4 generation ​
 booklet! President Wada wants all the missionaries to have that available as a tool to help missionaries in their efforts to find people to teach. Already, he has made so many tools and teaching aids available through the IPads so that we can pretty much tie the gospel into any aspect of life and relate directly to each person's individual needs. It's an incredible blessing to have all 
 resources, but it requires a lot of training and practice and patience to use all of them wisely and effectively.
Family History work and temple work ha
 really taken on a new meaning for me as I've begun to think of each person as a unique child of God with a personality, worries, fears, joys, successes. All of the desires that I have also exist in people who are living and in the billions of people who have passed on. Through their efforts and because of their actions, we have all that we are. Our names, genetics, talents, history, etc. With all 
the advances in technology and the connectivity of social media and the Internet, Family History and its potential has accelerated exponentially! 

I'm so excited that all of you are getting involved
​ in Family History​
! And for Bennett and Aaron, just remember that while it may seem small, your efforts are bringing eternal blessings to people who have been waiting for hundreds and thousands of years. You can make a difference, and I hope you'll give it your all!

Good luck in your performance Bennett! Sing and dance like you mean it! You never know when those skills will come in handy. Already, I have had several opportunities just because of my singing!

This week was pretty much a lot of contacting and traveling until the weekend. For the first time on my mission, we were actually able to teach lessons to investigators. My companionship was fairly new to Hachioji so we really had no potential or new investigators, but our efforts have been paying off!
Sunday was a really busy day for the missionaries so I completely forgot! All the missionaries had a total of 8 investigators come to church. My companionship had 2 of our potential investigators come, and we taught lessons to both of them afterwards! Up to this point, I had really only taught 2-3 real lessons because we really haven't had many opportunities, but we've been incredibl
 blessed as we've put forth our effort and followed our President Wada's counsel. One of our investigators is a former investigator who stopped investigating a while ago
​.  H
e kept coming to our English class anyways. I began to make friends with him and helped him with English questions, but I noticed that he would always ask questions about the missionaries so this last week I invited him to church, but he didn't come. So I invited him again, and this week he came! He said that he really loved the feeling of coming to church and meeting with old friends and 
at he felt a great feeling during the meeting. As I talked to him, he told me that he never actually prayed before, even though the missionaries had committed him. He said that he wasn't even sure that he wanted to know if God is there, but from his questions, I know that deep down he really does have  a desire. I made him promise to say a prayer last night, and at first, he kept asking a lot of what if questions, like "what if he doesn't answer" or "what if 10 minutes go by and still don't have an answer". I wasn't
​ ​
really sure how to answer those questions, but I told him that worrying about things like that isn't important, especially since he hasn't even prayed yet. He said he just felt weird praying to someone he doesn't believe in yet, but I told him that he wouldn't find out through any other way. I just told him that miracles and answers to prayers won't come to those who don't put forth the effort. When I asked him what he would do if he received an answer to show he had
​ ​
real intent, and he said simply that he will be baptized. I don't know the result of his prayer, but I know that I've been praying my heart out for him. Whether or not something comes as a result, I believe that I did what I could, and although I'm not sure what I'll do if he says nothing happened, I'll just keep loving him and hope that the Lord has his own timing.
We also taught a 16 year old young man named D, who is one of the happiest, friendliest people you will ever meet! We first met him about two weeks ago while we were streeting (he actually stopped us), came to a Ward barbecue and from then on, he's been very open to learning more. We taught him the first lesson after lunch, and everything made sense logically to him. He's a very bright kid and an astute listener, but he said he wasn't sure if he was able to believe that Joseph Smith saw God and Jesus Christ. He didn't want to commit to very much because he still wanted to learn more about religion before deciding which was ultimately the true church. It seemed like he thought reading the Book of Mormon was a much bigger commitment, like baptism, but we stressed that reading the Book of Mormon is really how to learn more about our church. He did say his first prayer at the end of the lesson after an example by Elder Tipene, and he said that he is still interested in learning more! Our investigators have definitely all had very unique backgrounds and perspectives, but I love them all! Teaching is both one of the hardest, but also the most rewarding experiences when you see people's faith begin to work and grow.
The biggest lesson that I've learned this week is about the importance of extending clear and bold invitations and the role of agency. Without clear choices, it's impossible for people to truly exercise their agency. As missionaries, if we beat around the bush and procrastinate asking the difficult questions, they never get the chance to choose for themselves, and we are limiting their agency. The worst thing that can happen is they say no, and after that, you can worry about what to do! 

Invite boldly and don't fear what may happen as a result!

I love you all and pray that you will have success in all of your endeavors!
Elder Christensen

1. Dinner at the Bishop's house
2. BYU Hawaii English Speech Contest


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

September 23, 2014 Greetings from Hachioji!!

 I'm running a little short on time so I'll jump right
into my week!

Missionary work has definitely been speeding up in Japan and all over
the world, and it's an inspiring thing to be a part of! Facebook is
full of people sharing the gospel and their testimonies, which I've
never seen on this scale before! The temple in Tokyo was full even on
a weekday, and we've had several meetings discussing the incredible
importance that family history work plays in hastening the work!
Our personal missionary work in Hachioji has had a lot of ups and
downs with several investigators coming and going and some deciding
not to continue. However, several investigators have really started to
progress, and there are some incredibly prepared people who have begun
down the path and are holding fast to the rod.
We have a potential investigator named D who just came to a ward
activity and has just a genuine kindness and excitement that really
impresses me! He developed some strong relationships with ward members
and was curious to learn more about our church meetings and what we
do. Nothing is for sure, but I'm praying harder than I ever have
before that he will feel the Spirit and be willing to plant a seed of
faith. I know that it won't be through me that he gains a testimony
and an enduring faith. This work is truly inspired, and I've seen the
difference it can have on people's lives! Miracles do happen, and I
feel so blessed to be a part of it!

I love you all!
Elder Christensen
1. Elder Berube and I at the temple
2. Talking with some cool high school students!

Monday, September 15, 2014

September 15, 2014 Great things are worth struggling for!

So that was a little thing called nagashisomen, which is a fun little activity that sometimes goes on in Japan! One family that we live close to, the A. family sponsored the event for some school kids and friends, and they invited us to go! You fill up a bowl with sauce and vegetables, and when the noodles slide down, you scoop them up, dip them in sauce, and eat!
P-days have been pretty quiet so far with shopping and a few other things because travel is expensive, and there aren't a ton of cultural things to do other than visit shrines. We are going to go see some castle ruins today, and we're really trying to make the most of our time now that we've gotten into a good groove together. I haven't played the piano much yet, but I've been given several songs to practice and sing, and I've been told that a solo in sacrament meeting might be in the near future so that will be a fun surprise!!
I definitely miss those pears and the other amazing fruit we canned! Fruit is really expensive in Japan so we don't usually get to eat very much unless it's at a member's house. After transfers, we've decided to make some budgeting and diet changes and see if we can make the most out of what we have. I definitely took all of the groceries that we had for granted even at BYU, but thank you for being so healthy and buying delicious food!
Have fun at the wedding and tell everyone hi for me! I remember when Jin got married, and it's great that her younger sister has found that blessing as well! 
It sounds like the all of yours are doing well!
Aaron, you're tearing it up on the field and still falling sleep during movies, which is good! :) Those ward activities were some of the highlights of church, and I definitely miss them now! What have you been talking about in Teacher's quorum lately? The young men here have started on For the Strength of Youth and have been trying to organize temple trips to do baptisms. I can't stress how important Young Men's is for creating good habits and teaching things about the gospel that will help you every single day on your mission and for the rest of your life so listen well!
Bennett, getting ready for another Homecoming! Good luck with that and go have a great time! I'm technically not even allowed to start conversations with girls, let alone take them on dates, so you'll have to have fun for the both of us. I got to bless the sacrament in church on Sunday, and it brought back all of the great memories of being a Priest! Some of the young even bumped the trays on the stand like they did before! What sorts of things are the Priests involved with recently? I know that your strong testimony can be a source of strength to those around you, especially the younger priesthood holders who still have more to learn. Learn all that you can from lessons and try to have the Spirit with you at all times through daily scripture study and prayer.

My week consisted of a lot of re-evaluations, and new goals to further my progress as a missionary and begin to fulfill President Wada's goals for the mission. Each companionship has been encouraged to have "meaningful" conversations with at least 70 people each week, but the mission totals have dropped to about 70% of that goal. Our district came down hard and said that we can't expect to see success or achieve our goals if we can't even accomplish the small ones, which stung because we hadn't been meeting our goals either. I had been letting my fear of Japanese and not understanding anything stop me from even trying to act on counsel from our leaders, and it was a pretty embarrassing realization. During the first hour of church, I felt overwhelmed with discouragement because although I desired more than anything to make a difference, I couldn't even understand what the children were saying let alone the teachers. I felt lost and out of place and felt like there was no way to share the desire of my heart. I was feeling depressed and hopeless, but then I remembered my goal to help the youth become stalwart priesthood holders that God needed them to be. To press forward in faith like like the sons of Helaman without fear and full of hope. I realized that this work, this gospel, and this message is worth more than my own pride. If I can't even speak, then I'll let my love and my desire show through my actions. If I have nothing else to give, I'll give my heart, my very soul, to God in order to help these people. Then, during the next block and during sacrament meeting, I saw something truly amazing happen. I didn't understand any more of the Japanese, but as I listened to the lessons and earnestly engaged in the meetings, I felt the Spirit more strongly than I have ever felt in my life. One of the speakers was a sister missionary from California who had just finished her mission and was visiting in Hachioji for the last time, and as she spoke, though simply, she spoke with with the tongue of angels. She bore simple testimony of her deep and abiding love for the members and that she would never forget the people of Japan, and as I imagined what it would feel like to return home, having served with all of my heart, I was overcome with a feeling of love and gratitude because I remembered that each of the members and everyone else is a dear and beloved child of God, and they deserve all that I have to offer and more. I hope I can make all of you proud while I'm here, and say at the end of my mission, that I did was I was sent to do.

I love all of you and pray that you will always know how proud I am to call you my family and friends. Let's go and change the world

Elder Christensen

Monday, September 8, 2014

September 8, 2014 Lots of love from the land of the Rising Sun!

You probably have said it, but it's nice to hear it again too! It's so inspiring to see these return missionaries and the testimonies that they've gained from their service, and I hope that I will be able to be the same way!  Props to Aaron for killing it once again (in football), and don't worry, Boise High football isn't my favorite so congrats on the win! Blake better represent the Christensen name well on the ultimate frisbee team! I definitely set a high bar so he better go get some Callahan's or some crazy layout grabs if he wants to make it out of my shadow! Just kidding I love ya Blake! Wow, Homecoming seems like such a long time ago for me, but I remember that it was awesome so have fun Bennett! Don't just stand around at the dance either. You got to get out and dance, ok? 

This week was pretty dang exciting! We had some lessons, splits, transfer calls, dinners with ward members, and pretty much the whole mission package! I got to teach my first two real lessons, which was one of the best experiences of my mission so far. I definitely need to work on a lot, but I took a lot of positives away too. We had dinner this Sunday with the 山岡 family, and it was amazing! The son and father both speak English fluently, but we spoke mainly in Japanese. 兄弟 and his wife graduated from BYU Provo with President Wada, and they are both very similar people! We had some French fries, fanta, shrimp, pasta, and many other unhealthy things, but it was nice to shake things up a little. I shared a little spiritual thought  on the many different kinds of missionary work that are available and necessary, specifically temple ordinances. If you have time, go to the temple! It is an amazing place with an amazing spirit that you can't find anywhere else!
Nothing bad has come of the blitzes yet, but we haven't had more an about 40 people doing it at once, and we're usually pretty spread out amongst a sea of Japanese people so it's been okay so far! A was busy this week so he wasn't able to make it to church, but we had our first real lesson with him on Friday! It was an amazing experience for me, and I know that I felt the Spirit very strongly! He was pretty apprehensive and hesitant to make any commitments yet and wanted a couple more lessons before he decides anything,  I believe that he did feel something too! Hopefully, we can address that in our next lesson, which will hopefully be this week. I really have been trying to focus my study and efforts on consecrating my life and missionary work so that I can have the constant companionship of the Spirit because I know without a doubt that I need it to teach. The Japanese people are very cautious about making decisions quickly, and it usually takes several meetings with people before they even begin to really trust you and open up about their desires and feelings. However, there are always exceptions, and I'm just trying to treat each person like I would want to be treated and help them with whatever they need! We can't force anything on anyone. We can only invite and help them see the amazing blessings that come from a life of faith. We can't find true joy, peace, happiness, love, friendship, satisfaction, and all other praiseworthy things in his world! if we don't have a sincere love for the people, they will sense it. Sincerity and trust are some of the most important things in missionary work and relationships in general. The life of a disciple of Jesus Christ isn't the easiest one, but it is the most rewarding one! I know that this is true, I hope that we can all work to dedicate our lives in pursuit of praiseworthy things! Arise and shine everyone because the time for action is now!

Lots of love from the land of the Rising Sun,
Elder Christensen
Beginning English Class

Monday, September 1, 2014

September 1, 2014 Getting out and seeing the sites!

Metting Brother Van Houton, fellow Idahoan
This was totally random!
Climbing Mt. Takao
Noodles are sent down the slide and then you eat them.
First of all, I'm so glad that you got to hear about all of my crazy
exploits in Japan, even if had to pass through several people and
thousands of miles! Brother Van Houten was a great guy, and he didn't
even judge me too much after meeting me under those circumstances. It
was quite a surprise to find out that he was from Idaho, even more so
to learn that he was from Boise, and I was "exceedingly astonished"
when I heard that he knew the Wolfe's and that his mother apparently
was in church for my farewell talk! I can honestly say that I wasn't
expecting any of those things, but if you ever see him again, tell him
hi! I took some pictures with him so enjoy!
I'm glad that you finally had the legendary food fight, even if it had
to be when I'm on my mission, but keep in mind that we should probably
have another when I return.
Good luck to everyone as the new school year has begun and remember to
enjoy the experience because it goes by fast! There are many days
where I look back and remember the first day of 中学校 and 高校, or junior
and senior high school, and wonder what in the world just happened!
This week was one of the most busy weeks that I've had up to this
point, and it was great!
As always, we had a lot of street contacting to do (about 5 or 6 hours
every day), but we had exciting exchanges that shook thing up a bit
and gave me some new insight into good methods of finding new people
to teach. I bought a new bike, and I know it's kind of late, but we
had a hard time finding a good shop and then trying to learn about the
bikes in Japanese. When they started explaining insurance, I was
really nervous because that's pretty important stuff!
For the first time in a while, we have a solid list of potential
investigators, which makes things a lot busier! Most of the time, they
don't have much interest in learning about the church, but were always
hoping that, with time and effort, they will come to see the joy that
it can bring into their lives!
We had another missionary blitz in Kofu, and we traveled the city
talking about family history for about 3 hours before returning to
Hachioji. All in all, we talked with around 350 people by the end, and
hopefully, we helped people understand a little bit of the joy that
eternal families can have!
We had an investigator come to church on Sunday, and while it wasn't
perfect because he is from Sri Lanka and doesn't speak Japanese very
well and his English is hard to understand, he said that he would be
interested in coming again. He works every day for pretty much the
whole day, which is fairly common in Japan, so there aren't many
opportunities to teach, but I'm hoping that everything will work out.
He is the first real investigator that we've been able to meet with,
and although I'm always worried that a mistake could cause a lot of
harm to his progress, I'm just taking it one day at a time.
I've been studying the importance of "laying up treasures in heaven"
in Matthew 6 the last few days, and I really believe that true
happiness lies in spiritual things because things of this world are
temporary and always subject to change. The blessings of God and the
joy that comes from living the principles of the gospel are eternal
and won't fade with time or during difficult circumstances. Treasure
the blessings that you have received and remember that there is always
something to be grateful for.
I love all of you and keep being wonderful!
Elder Christensen

Kofu from a hill