Monday, March 30, 2015

Loving the spring in Japan! Letter from March 30, 2015

Dear Mom, Dad, Amanda, Blake, Bennett, Aaron,
Things are as hard as ever, but especially the last few weeks, I've
learned a few things that have completely changed my view of myself!
Actually, the picture in the last e-mail
is at a park in Futamatagawa where we sometimes go to
talk to people! Nothing makes people happier than walking in a
beautiful park in the spring!
Planned service opportunities, ones that aren't too time consuming or
that don't require a long term commitment are difficult to find, but
we try to do little things each day to make a difference. I actually
just ran a baby's shoe back to a mother who dropped it while walking!
No Easter plans yet, but we're not ruling anything out! We'll try to
work out some plans for this week!
​At the talent show we are planning, ​
'm hoping to sing at least one song by myself, one as an entire
district, and maybe even one as a companionship if Elder 
 is feeling bold! I'm sure it will end up being pretty lighthearted sincemost of the participants will simply doing their best to share little
hobbies, but everyone wants to do their best so hopefully they don't
stress too much. I know a lot of people, myself included, worry about
being perfectly skilled, but yesterday, I realized that there is a
much deeper and more important principle that we must fist recognize.
Weakness isn't sin! There is an amazing article in the April Liahona
that talks more about it, and I would love to hear all of your
thoughts after you read it this week ;). For me, coming on a mission
has given me an opportunity to not only learn more about how amazing
Christ is, but also to meet some incredible people who are miles ahead
of me spiritually and mentally, which has given me a LOT to think
about. In other words, I have become painfully aware of my weaknesses
(man, there are a ton too!) Whenever you, as an imperfect human, look
to a perfect example like Christ and seek to improve yourself, you
will very quickly realize that you have a long, long, long way to go.
There are so many people who are so good at showing love, at teaching
others the lessons, at meeting new people, and you may even get down
on yourself too and begin to wonder, "I can't do this. I'm 'sinning'
basically every second anyway so why put myself through even more pain
to try and attain the unattainable?"
If you are thinking this, stop it! I love you, but you have to stop!
If you are actually breaking a commandment, then that is a different
story and requires confession and immediate change, but if you simply
are struggling to overcome a weakness, then be patient, study the
scriptures and the words of the modern day prophets, and realize that
true growth takes time. We were able to spend some time with a young
man from church on Sunday and talk about starting preparation for
serving a mission. We even got to practice a little conversation as if
he was talking to a friend about personal beliefs, which wasn't
planned and was way fun! He wasn't really sure what to say or do, but
we knew exactly how he felt and made the most of it. There's a lot
more that could be said, but I would just like to bear my testimony
that faith in Christ and true humility allows us to gain a strength
and a power beyond anything you could ever imagine. His sacrifice
isn't just there to heal us after we make a mistake, but it
strengthens us and gives us the courage to get back out there one more
time, to love someone who refuses to love us back, to be a little less
lazy, to be a little more Christlike.

Love, love, love from the missionary who's a little bit less of a perfectionist,
Elder Christensen
1. Loving the spring flowers!
2. Our awesome ward member Brother Oishi

Monday, March 23, 2015

Adam's e-mail from March 23, 2105

Tonight Kellen Moore was our fireside speaker for the 
1st and the barber Valley Ward youth fireside. He was sharing some personal insights that he has learned through sports on how to navigate through life experiences and find success.
 ​  Here were  some of the things that he talked about
1. The importance of surrounding ourselves with good people. He said that friends are like an elevator and will either take you up or down with them.  He also quoted a college football coach who was talking about the importance of being a good team player, who said, "if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far go together."
2.  Be in the here and now. If you are in school give you your 100% effort to school. Don't be imagining what others are doing someplace else.
3.  Prepare well for your future and then be patient with yourself during the process of becoming what you aspire to be.
4.  He joked and said that we might think that NFL stands for national football league, but those who are playing in it referred to it as "not for long".  He said that most people make it for just a few years even with a long career in the NFL, they are done in their 30s if they are lucky and so they need to have something else to transition to. A coach told him to not to be a "one trick pony".  Develop many interests and talents and don't put all your eggs in one basket.
5.  Part of being patient is not giving up Quinn success doesn't come immediately. There is a lot of negativity around us and many people telling us we can't succeed. We cannot allow ourselves to give up because of others negativity or our own negativity.He read an article written by the coach of the University of Oregon describing the ideal quarterback. The qualities outlined were completely different from what Kellen was.  He wasn't deterred by that though, and he realized that he only needed to find one university that said yes to him and there might be many who would say no.  He also said do not be afraid to fail. Those who become successful have to try and do something at least 10,000 times before they become truly great at something.
6.  He also said that being able to put behind you mistakes or failures is essential to being able to succeed in the future. If he had an interception in a game, he would have to quickly put that behind him  and not assume that it would happen again, but go forward as if it had never happened.
7.  He also talked about the importance of being mentally and spiritually strong and making prayer a daily part of life.  He said that he and his wife regularly pray together and counsel with heavenly father on their decisions.

Dear Family,

I'm going to have to use those tips from Kellen Moore over here in
Japan as well! They won't know who he is, but that's ok, the message
will still be powerful!
​My companion and  I are getting much better as a companionship, and weeven had some cool experiences where our thoughts have been basically
the same. We still have different ideas about many things, but
 ​ we have managed to find similarities all he same! He loves soccer as well,
which has led to some great opportunities the last few weeks! We
actually spent about and hour and a  ​half  playing soccer with some kids
at a nearby park today! At first, they were kind of shy and hesitant,
but soon opened up when they saw that we were sincere and were wanting
to help  ​them  have a good time. Ulterior motives will always fail, no
matter how good your intentions are, which is still something I'm
working on.
​I​ t is possible to have fun and let out tension without being
disobedient so we're starting to have a great time as companions.
We are actually planning a music night for
members and English class students to come and share their musical
talents and bring friends to as well. One thing our mission and
President Wada has focused on is the need for activities 
 ​to be ​ based on the level of interest of our friends. Paul compared it to milk and meat. Many of our friends are not ready for the big, meaty (albeit delicious) steaks of the gospel, but first need to be  ​introduced to the gospel through  the milk of activities and inspirational scriptures, stories, friends, etc. Many people have been ignored or left behind because they simply weren't ready for the meat of the gospel. Always invite and give them a choice, but we have to start from their level.

This week we heard from Elder Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve
Apostles and Elder Evans of the Seventy about becoming masters of
technology and resetting our lives and   ​we got to shake 
 their hands (that's two apostles in one month!) . I gave a training at Zone Conference, went to Kamakura, saw a baptism, and many other things as well!
What I learned this week came as I studied 1 Nephi 8, Lehi's Dream and
 ​ I ​reflect​ed ​ on our purpose as missionaries and as disciples of Christ.
Everyone in this world is on a journey to the tree of life, or the
love of God. Much like a big backpacking trip or scout outing. We set
out with a goal in mind, but for one reason or another, problems
arise. Some want to stop and rest, some get distracted and wander off,
some see other groups partying and having fun and ignore the counsel
of their leaders. As missionaries and as disciples of Christ, our role
is to do our best to help those people back on the path, to strengthen
their faith, to give them a helping hand, and sometimes to be a little
blunt with them about what is right and wrong.
It can be frustrating, tiring, discouraging at times, but rewarding
and worth all the effort. We get out what we put in and usually we get
even more as well.

Love, love, love,
The missionary who is growing little by little,
Elder Christensen

Monday, March 16, 2015

The rain is back in Japan! March 16, 2015

Yep, the rainy season has definitely started! But right now it seems
to only rain on Mondays and only when we ride our bikes, which makes
things interesting to say the least! We've been mainly riding bikes
lately since we've been trying to knock on more doors and talk into
more high tech answering boxes ( they make it really hard to have a
good conversation) we are trying to make a special effort to find families to teach.
The Hodogaya Ward is much bigger than in Odawara (although two
investigators in Odawara are getting baptized next month, huge
miracle!) with many older members and not a ton of youth. Everyone is
very busy with work which makes it difficult to work effectively with
them,  we're trying to find ways to overcome that barrier. Will you
pray that we can know how to help the members? I know that most of
them want to help, but there are many obstacles in the way that we
need to overcome first. This last week at church was incredible
though! So many more members came to us and talked and asked to have
us over, which I hope means that they're beginning to trust us as
missionaries and servants in the work! They really are incredibly
faithful and incredible examples of Christ!
 I think one  theme for me on my mission has been making love the motive for all of our actions. As hard as I try
to be successful, usually I'm motivated by fear, rewards, or sometimes
a little bit of pressure, but love is what opens people's hearts to
the gospel.
One of our miracles this week involved Jehovah's Witnesses and really
affected my perspective on how I view other people!
We were in our way to visit a man with potential interest, and as we
walked past a train station, we saw a group of about 10 missionaries
from Jehovah's Witness holding signs outside the station. Honestly,
the first though that past through my mind was "oh no, this is going
to be awkward." I want to talk to them, but the last thing I want is
to get involved in some religious verbal warfare so let's go around
them." And at first, we did. However, the man we wanted to meet didn't
show up and so
we suddenly had time to go and talk to other people.

Once again I saw the other missionaries and felt the awkwardness
again, but as I looked closer, specifically at a married couple, I saw
an all too familiar sight. Their tired, discouraged faces as people
ignored them with blank gazes really sank into my heart as I wondered.
How often have I felt the same way? These people are doing what they
can to share something they love and believe. Or as Christ taught to
his apostles about the woman who washed his feet with oils and dried
his feet with her hair in the "why trouble ye her? She hath done what
she could. She hath wrought a good work. "At the very least, I
thought, I want to thank them for what they are doing. So with
compassion in my heart, I went up to the couple and thanked them. The
surprise in their faces was visible, but as we spoke about Christ and
our love for him, His life, His Resurrection, and His teachings tears
began to fill their eyes and they listened intently. At that point, it
wasn't 20 year old Adam Christensen speaking with his limited
experience, but it felt like their Father in Heaven was telling these
special children of God, that they shouldn't worry because He was
watching over them. I was so moved and felt a thought that I needed to
thank them again, and I told them, as a representative of Jesus
Christ, that their efforts were not wasted and that God was proud of
them and had accepted their sacrifice on His behalf. We weren't able
to share much about the Book of Mormon although we did bear testimony
of its truth, but they agreed to meet again and talk more about the
teachings of Christ in about week and a half!
I'm so grateful that even if only for that moment I was able to help
someone else feel God's incredible love, and I hope that you all make
that your goal!

I love you guys and am praying for you!
Elder Christensen

Monday, March 9, 2015

Adam's post from March 9, 2015

I am in awe of Bennett's performance at the dinner show! Freak, when did you get so good?
it's just gone uphill from the Jazz concert before I left! Now your going to sell Pizza? Does
this mean I can eat for free when I get back?! I always knew you would
pull through for me!
I wish I had time to comment more! Happy Birthday Mom! I took some
time to say it on Facebook, but thank you for making your life an
example for us to follow and showing us how to make the most of the
time we have.
Our main focus as a companionship has been our friend and investigator
D. He's only been an investigator for about 5 months, but he loves
the missionaries and is always giving his time for us. He has had a
lot of struggles in his life and is in the midst of overcoming several
of them which is taking a mental and physical toll on him and us. I
really have no idea how to help with most of them, but we're praying
as a companionship that the teachings of the gospel will sink into his
heart. We're trying our best to help him build a foundation for his
life on the gospel and start from square one despite many setbacks. So
often, I've taken the gospel and everything else in my life for
granted, but it's time to do my best to provide an opportunity for
others to try it out and see for themselves the peace and comfort that
it brings.
Elder Christensen