Monday, January 26, 2015

January 26, 2015 Letter from Adam

There really aren't a ton of new vegetables that I have learned to like, but there's
corn, lettuce, cabbage, mushrooms (I count them as vegetables), peas,
and probably some other ones although I haven't been keeping track :) wish I could say that I'm always bold, but I still can't say that quite yet.
The hardest part about being bold is that it's never the same and
sometimes it seems to be hurting more than helping. It would be nice
if every person was happy to talk to you about church, but that
usually isn't the case. Actually, I think I've been ignored more than
anything, which makes talking about anything hard. I never know quite
what to do when people simply don't acknowledge me. Sometimes I walk
around with them for a little bit and just keep talking, although as
far as effectiveness goes, it's not the greatest. However, there are
still a lot of people in Japan so there are many opportunities to go
out there and work! A lot of foreigners come to Japan for work and
because the government plays a big role in health care, etc.  
(referencing the Smiths being in the Tokyo airport recently)
Dang,  just missed them! I may only be a couple hours by train from
Tokyo, but it feels like a continent! There is just no end to the city
or to the people! Were they able to leave the airport at all?
The primary here only has a few kids, so it's kind of hard to picture
such a big group! It is nice to know that kids are pretty much the
same everywhere you go!
Go get em Aaron! How's the preparation  for all state band going?
 It feels like you've been traveling a lot recently, but maybe that's
just because mission time goes by so much faster. Will the whole
family be to St. George?
The Tanner's are an incredible example of both Christlike service and
missionary work, and give them my apologies for not being as diligent
as I should have been when they came over before. They are truly
magnifying their callings!

 I'm pretty sure it was my first covert baptism, but if it wasn't, it
was at least the first one that I can remember going to. Right after
the baptism, there was even a sacrament service in Spanish and
Portuguese! We didn't have any investigators to go with, but the other
elders from Odawara met a man on the way to the baptism who decided to
go with them. As we spoke, he told us in a somber tone that he had
recently become homeless and practically lived off the clothes on his
back, but that seeing so many happy people together was something that
he had never experienced before. Our Ward Mission leader, who is an
accomplished lawyer and great example, spoke to him about finances for
a little bit, and the Fujisawa missionaries, our zone leaders, began
to to teach him a little bit more about the gospel. He said that it
was the first time in a long, long time that anyone had shown this
much kindness and care to him. Plus, a woman from the Philippines came
into the building after seeing a lot of people gathering, and as the
sisters spoke with her, they learned that she already had a Book of
Mormon! After staying for the service, she asked how soon she and her
family could get baptized! The baptism was amazing, and in addition to
it being translated into 3 different languages at once, I got to bear
my testimony! I spoke about the power of new beginnings. 
The N family is so amazing! They're moving back to Brazil in February, but
they told me to visit after my mission so now I have the perfect
excuse! How would you all feel about a trip to Brazil?
They all have such strong testimonies, and are sensitive to the still
small whisperings of the Spirit.
They may not be Japanese, and it may not be me teaching them (one of
these days it will happen) but I really can't deny the hand of God in
this work even if I tried. There are simply too many witnesses to me
that God exists, that He loves us, and that he wants us to do
everything in our power to choose the right, just like any loving parent
would. However, Satan wants the exact opposite. He would rather see
our lives in shambles, our family torn apart, our dreams left
unrealized, and hopes shattered. He would rather our lives be filled
with oppressive pessimism than uplifting and inspiring optimism. Who
would want to follow such a being?! If there is ever a time where you
face a difficult choice, always remember this and choose the right!
God and Jesus Christ are our biggest fans, our sideline supporters,
our coaches, our trainers, and our teammates, and following their
counsel will bring you everlasting joy. No matter what you goals is,
to exercise more, to be a better friend, a better parent, a more
diligent student, this gospel will give you what you are searching

Love you with all my heart,
Elder Christensen
1. Splits with the Elder Petersen with the Wada Family and Enomoto
兄弟,members from Fujisawa!
2. We went into the mountains to find a less active, but were
unsuccessful. We did, however, get to talk to some lovely people.

Monday, January 19, 2015

January 19, 2015 quick note from Adam

I wish I could tell you all how much it means to me to get all the
gifts and love that you sent, but I would probably  not succeed
because my English and Japanese are both not very good right now!
Quick update: the sister missionaries have a baptism this next week
for the daughter of a couple from Brazil who were baptized only a few
years ago. Their daughter came to Japan, began lessons, and now has a
baptismal date, right before going back to Brazil with her Family!
One big miracle!
We've had several appointments fall through and several people drop
contact with us, but we keep talking to more people and new
opportunities are appearing all around us!
Missionary work is the craziest thing I've ever done, the most
difficult thing I've ever done, but it's changing me in ways I never
could have possibly imagined. Things that I hated to do (eat
vegetables, invite people to learn more about the gospel, be bold)
have now become a part of me. I'm not even sure what I'll be like by
the end of my mission, but I know that as long as I give my all and
keep Christ in my mind at all times, and in all things, and in all
places, there is no need to fear. Christ and  God's plan for this
life is the only thing in this world that gives this life meaning.  
Without it, families are just a convenient organization, this life is
a time to mess around and have fun, and there is no hope to drive us
through the hard parts of life.

I love you!
Elder Christensen
Last day as a district in Odawara

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Adam's email from Jan. 11, 2015

January 11, 2015

First off, I just want to say thank you to all of you for sending such thoughtful gifts! Blake and Amanda, I was feeling pretty chubby so that skinny girl popcorn was exactly what I needed!
 I don't have a ton of time to share all of the things that I really want to say with all of you, but I hope you know how amazing it is to look at all of you and see the things you're accomplishing. Aaron, I can only imagine the kind of practice and effort it took to get to where you are so go show them what your'e made of! Heck yes, that amazing saxophone player is my brother! What songs are you playing? Bennett, as you're making your goals become reality, it's an example to me of all that we are capable of! What play is it?

We began teaching a man on Sunday named S who really hasn't even thought about the concept of religion before outside of his family`s traditions, but since he has a lot of time, he agreed to meet with us and had the first lesson. He though it was all pretty interesting, but wasn't too keen on reading the Book of Mormon regularly. He said if he feels like it he`ll read so we will probably spend time reading with him so that he can feel the Spirit as he reads and ponders it.

There really are few moments better than when the person you are talking to listens intently as you talk about the Restoration. We met another Potential Investigator from China on the train, and he was way excited to hear more. Naturally, there was more than that, but it's kind of hard to explain it all. Finding people to teach is as crazy and unpredictable as always, and I finally feel fairly comfortable talking to pretty much anyone, anywhere, but when it comes to teaching, I really have no idea what I`m doing! The knowledge is all there, but as far as adjusting to met needs, I am still a beginner. I have so much more respect for mothers, fathers, and sunday school teachers for their ability to explain simply something so incredibly big and deep.

I love you all so much, and Im going to try and write back to all of you next week!
Love, Elder christensen

Monday, January 5, 2015

Happy Birthday Adam! Thurs. January 8!

Dear Family,
Neither can I! I will forever be out of the teenage years, and that
kind of scares me a little bit. As excited as I am for my birthday, if
I can simply become a little bit more like the missionary I want to be
and that everyone hopes I can be then I'll be happy. We do have a
dinner appointment with a member family that night, and the mother was
pretty excited to hear at it was my birthday so we'll see what
happens, (they are an incredible family so whatever they come up with
Ill be thankful for!) There are some crepe shops so we might check
those out too!
We went to the beach to watch the sunrise and talk with people about
their goals and a hope for a better year and life. There were tons of
people, and at first I wast kind if shell shocked into silence. I was
too worried to go straight up to a group of people, but I also
couldn't bring myself to just bounce around from person to person.
Eventually, the conversations came fairly naturally, but I've realized
that I sometimes I get too carried away with just talking. Especially
in Japan, people are pretty much always interested in hearing about me
as a person, but are hesitant to bring up something potentially
sensitive like personal beliefs and religion. As I've pondered this
and studied a little bit more, I have realized that I can do a little
bit better at letting the light of Christ shine through me. As it says
in Matthew 5, "let your light so shine before me, that hey may see
your good works and glorify your father which is in heaven." We must
let our light shine so that others may glorify God and not us. As much
as I like being complimented on how hard it must be to teach about
Christ in a non-Christian country, I would much rather people see that
the desire and love that I have comes not from me, but from a person
who is infinitely better than I am. I wish that everyone could feel
the simple and unadulterated love that comes from knowing that God
exists, that He loves each and every one of us, and that He has
provided a way for us to return to Him if we are only willing to seek
after Him in faith. We need not know all of the answers to every
question before we are convinced that He and His love are real. All
that is require is a heart humble enough to listen to the gentle
whisperings of the The Holy Spirit which brings peace to the aching
soul, answers to a questioning heart, and confidence to the faint in
Communicating from the heart in Japanese is probably the hardest thing
I've had to do up to this point, and although we get along, it feels
like there is a lot missing in the companionship because we really haven't had many opportunities
to get in rhythm. As a convert, he doesn't have the same background,
and his parents aren't members either, though he keeps inviting them!
He plays rugby and a kind of martial arts called aikiro, which I've
never done but is pretty well known in Japan.
We've had a lot of really short conversations during finding, but
lesson settings and longer conversations have been fairly rare. We've
been trying to change that with more practice lessons with members
recently even though most of them are busy. He definitely understands
where they are coming from more than I do which is a real blessing!
Sometimes, people tend to feel like my persistence comes from a lack
of understanding when really I just don't want to give up. We've
definitely gotten better the last little bit, and I hope we can keep
working together as best as we can!

I love you all so much!
Elder Christensen