Wednesday, May 27, 2015

e-mail from May 25, 2015

Wow! You are all doing amazing things! I got to send a little email to
Blake, but it sounds like Minnesota is treating him well. Bennett, way
to make a difference, and I hope you never forget these feelings. It's
way crazy that you are almost done with your Eagle Project! Aaron, you
just keep on standing out in new and incredible ways! It took me till
senior year to have a leadership position, and I didn't do very well
with it haha. Thankfully, I got a second chance, and I hope that you
want to give your all to those with you. It sounds cheesy to do that
in band class, but if do your best to show love to those in your
section, some amazing miracles will happen.
Amanda, I love you and am praying for you all the time!
I love you mom and dad! Your examples drive me everyday!

I missed you all this week, and I took the love that I felt from all
of you, gave it a healthy dose of Japanese, and spread it far and wide
across this H area! One thing is for sure, the Lord is
hastening His work in H! I don't know why it is happening now,
and I certainly don't know how everything will turn out from here! But
to say it simply, Elder S I have been blown away by the goodness
of God. There is no way that we could do anything here by ourselves,
and for decades, the work has been slow moving and sometimes even at a
standstill. Hundreds of missionaries have come and gone and have left
their sweat and tears on the streets of H without knowing what
would happen after they left, and I'm sure that many members here have
wondered why it is that their prayers have gone unanswered for so
long. Having been made district leader of this area,  I felt a very
strong impression this last week that for the first time in almost 3
years this area and this ward will once again be blessed to see a
friend choose to follow Christ into the waters of baptism. We have no
baptismal dates and only 2 investigators who are really "progressing"
in this area, but just this last week, it felt as though everyday
people were just appearing on the streets. We met a Shinto priest with
a love for God that is off the charts, and as he read the Book of
Mormon, he told us over and over that he felt God's love from it. And
oh, how right he was! Can you feel it too? It may take a little effort
and a little humility, but I promise that there is no energy drink, no
drug, no substitute that can replace the feeling of the Spirit of God.
I know that this feeling, this overwhelming joy, is truly good for how
could something false or wrong lead one to purely love others and
sacrifice everything for them?
The way to lasting happiness has actually been restored in these
modern times by a prophet of God, and I hope that no matter where you
are that you will personally take my challenge to learn this truth for
yourself. It WILL change everything for the better. I promise you that
with all of my heart! Plus, if you ever need anything done or if you
ever have any concerns, worries, questions, anything, I will give you
my all. (But don't forget to ask for some heavenly help too) :).
"For with God, NOTHING shall be impossible"

The missionaries here have completely dedicated their whole heart and
soul to God and the Japanese people with a love that can only be
described as limitless. The people in this area are special, and I
would like to ask a special favor from all of you back home, your
friends, family, members of this church, and those of other faiths as
well, and those without a religion. Keep this area and Japan in your
prayers and in your thoughts so that they will recognize our love and
God's love for them as His children with unbelievable potential.

1. Made some bread from Nepal after eating lunch! I just kind of asked
them if I could try amd they said yes!
2. Went to the temple (the most peaceful place ever) with Elder S

Thursday, May 21, 2015

E-mail from May 19, 2015

Dear mom, dad, and family,
I'm so happy that you all are working so hard in life and making me proud in all you do! Already, it's been a pretty crazy start to the transfer with Elder S! He's on his 14th transfer, but because of crazy circumstances, he's actually ended up with 15 companions total. He's a quiet guy, kind of like me, but he's really good at listening to people and working through concerns instead of throwing in the towel early. Since I'm guilty of that sin, it's an incredible blessing to be with him, especially while learning to take on the extra responsibility of being a district leader here in Hodogaya. I feel like I know what to do, but the lack of experience really makes it feel like walking in the dark. You want to go the right way and keep moving, but the fear of bumping into a wall or stepping off a ledge, always makes you more hesitant. It definitely gives a new meaning to "walking by faith"! 
Overcoming fear with faith really is my goal for this transfer, and honestly, I believe that this simple principle can be applied to anything we do in life, church related or not, so please give it a shot! Faith is "believing that the best will come with whatever happens to us" or "a hope for things which are not seen which are true" (Finding Faith in Christ/Alma 32:21). When walking in the dark, it's easy to let the fear of something unexpected happening suddenly nag at our mind, and every little thing gets blown out of proportion. Your thoughts probably go something like this "I just know I'm going to run into something. I know it. I just know it. It's going to hurt so bad." And BAM, you run into it and then complain about how right you were and how pointless it is to walk in the dark and how someone should just turn on the light because it would make everything SO much easier.  And honestly, you would be right, it would be SO much easier, but who grows from having everything handed to them on a platter. The people who complain about walking in the dark would also find something else to complain about even if it was completely light. This life is sometimes the darkest room there is, and regardless of whether we like it or not, we all have to walk through our own dark room. However, I know that this dark room isn't some cruel joke or a dreamlike illusion for which there is no purpose. This life is a special opportunity for us to learn, by faith, to rely on the only lasting source of peace and happiness, the only true power in this world and the source of true strength, Jesus Christ. There is no substitute for His plan, and in the end, there is no greater success than for those who CHOOSE to follow Him, even if it doesn't always make sense or even if it's a little more difficult or seems random. For those who are truly afraid and truly suffering as they walk through that room, please know that for those who are willing to humbly ask for it, there is hope in Christ and there are people around you willing to lift you up as well!

That was kind of a long comment, but as I've learned to walk by faith, I'm able to face each new day with a smile and confidence. I have no idea how I'm going to do all that I'm expected to do as a district leader or as a missionary in general, but like Kevin says in Home Alone "I'm not scared anymore!" It really is a good feeling!

Please keep our investigators K and D in your prayers and also pray that this Hodogaya ward will be blessed to see the baptism that they have been praying so long for!

I love you! I love you! I love you!
Elder Christensen

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Adam's e-mail from May 11, 2015

Mother dear, and coolest family and friends ever,
I'm glad that there weren't any muggers or homicidal gypsies. Those are always a buzz kill, especially during travel! 
The Lord is watching over this area and truly preparing the hearts of those people who seek after truth. That is one truth that I have felt in my heart and truly come to understand through careful observation and and listening with my heart. Our investigators have many different concerns, issues, strengths, weaknesses, and questions, but more than that is their desire to find the truth and their ability to recognize the love of God. I have often wondered, kind of like Joseph Smith, why it is that some of the "nicest" people are so incredibly opposed to things like religion and are unwilling to look past the things they don't quite understand and see the truth in the simple principles. Some of the bitterest persecution and opposition comes because people can't recognize true goodness. We were blessed to attend stake conference this Saturday and Sunday and to hear from many people of all walks of life. Members of the Seventy, Mission Presidents, Mothers, Daughters, Youth, pretty much everyone from every walk of life spoke to us. There were a variety of themes and personalities, but the prevailing feeling I had in my heart was the pureness of their hearts and their desire to do good no matter what. I would trust them with my life and if I ever needed something or had a question, I would run to them without any hesitation. We were also able to serve at a elderly center teaching english with one of our investigators who said that we could even share a gospel message. As we prepared to share, several of the people became visibly uncomfortable and despite the assurance of our investigator that we were good people with a good message, we were only able to explain more about us and promise that Christ was truly who he said he was before they essentially said enough. We thanked them all for their time and their kindness, but it made we wonder why people can't feel our love for them. I don't desire power or fame, money or praise. I don't care about numbers or even about simply meeting lots of new people. All I want is for people listen with their heart and feel the incredible love that I feel towards them, the love that my parents raised me with, and the love that ultimately God loves us with. I would die for these people. I would give all I own if they could catch even a glimpse of this truly simply, beautiful truth. God lives. He loves us, more than we could ever realize, and He WILL answer us if we our only humble enough to ask in faith. This gospel IS true. I can't always explain it with words, but I can at least say that much. I love you all so much and pray for you everyday because even though I can't help you personally, God will never forsake you. 
Happy Mother's Day to my beautiful, talented, inspired mother and all the mothers out there who cared enough for us to give up their personal dreams to teach us the truth. 
With all the love of my heart,
Elder Christensen, a witness of Jesus Christ till the day I die

1. The A family, and their baby y. Look at his face!! It's so cute, I just want to squish it!

Adam's e-mail from May 3

It doesn't get much more crowded than Tokyo! I'm pretty grateful that we don't have to spend much time in the busiest parts of the city around Shibuya where missionaries actually are told not to proselyte because of how busy it is! Did you actually get scammed while asking for directions?  Well, I'm glad that whatever happened you stayed safe. 
There are definitely people like that man in the rug shop all over the world, and they are my favorite people to talk to because they don't have any ulterior motives, just pure, genuine kindness. I have no idea what I what do if a random person came up to and talked to me, but I've seen so many miracles that come as I've just simply opened my mouth and been the kind of person that I would want to talk to as well! Although I can't give any credit to myself, you and dad, Amanda, Bennett, Aaron, and everyone else in my life showed me the way to be a light to the world, and in the end, the real example for all of us is always Christ! 
Maybe when you go back again you can actually get a rug for real! 
This week had miracles left and right, some worries and struggles, but I'd like to focus on just one experience that is blossoming even as I'm writing to you! 
This last Friday, while I was on splits with Elder N, another elder in our district, we met a kid named K. It was pretty clear that he had some struggles, but despite those, he talked about how much he loved Frozen and the quiet peace that comes from pondering in parks.
As we talked about who we were and what we do, he continued to listen intently although he said several times that he didn't really have any interest in church just play, so we invited him to our ward BBQ which was on Saturday. I mean what could be better! Honestly, when we met him the second time, he sounded way nervous and jumpy, and we were both talking about how we should take precautions in case things got sketchy if he was desperate. How wrong we were!
He came to the BBQ, and despite telling us time and time again that he wouldn't talk to people he didn't know, he opened up and began to make acquaintances. The most important relationship that he made however was with our other investigator D. D struggled with many of the same things as K, but has gradually started to overcome them. There were always a few things that he just didn't seem to have the desire to do yet. After meeting K, he became almost like a father to him and seeing the light in both of them change was pretty incredible! K came to sacrament, despite saying he wouldn't at first, loved it, and that night we had a lesson about the Restoration and the power of Prayer at T family's home, both members. With the help of D, Brother O (a YSA preparing to go on a mission), the other missionaries, and the T family, we taught prayer and opening our hearts to God. Everything went pretty dang great, but the true miracle happened after we left. Because of how late it was, the missionaries left to make it home on time while everyone else stayed behind to clean up. I asked Brother O D to follow up on what we taught and to make sure sure that K understood what was taught, and then I left. Today, I got a call from D letting me know that while cleaning they reviewed prayer, taught about Joseph Smith, and even introduced baptism and the eventual goal of temple work and missionary work(depending on the person this can lead to some different results). At the end of all that, it would be so easy to be offended or confused and to lose interest, but K accepted it! He told me today that he wants to a missionary just like us and is willing to do what it takes to improve his life! 
On top of all that, D called K's mother and let her know what was happening and ensured that everything was ok to meet missionaries! What?! There is still so much to do, but I'm still in shock at the change that took place right in front of my eyes!
Even in the dirty mess that people sometimes accumulate as they go through life, there is, at the heart of every person, a pure soul. We just have to be willing to see it with an eye of faith!

Love you everyone!
Elder Christensen

1. K at church!
2. I had a lot of fun playing with the octopus tentacles :)