Monday, May 30, 2016

The last e-mail!!!!!

Dear Mom and Dad,

I'm going to do everything in my power to make sure I don't just have my "last three days", but have three days that put a giant exclamation point on all that I have done here in Japan. I have literally given everything all I could, everything I possessed, to the people here in Japan. It's difficult to put 2 years of  daily preparation, study, planning every hour, goal setting, following slim leads based on simple hopes and the promptings of the Spirit, embarrassment, frustration, pain, sorrow, joy, confusion, and sometimes just plain ridiculousness into words. But one thing, I can say is that if I had not put my whole heart into every single day of these last two years, I would not be half the man I am today, and hundreds if not thousands of individuals would not have had the chance to learn of the message of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ that we bear as missionaries. 
One may try to deny the lasting significance of what we do on others' lives, but I have personally witnessed the power of the Book of Mormon and of the simple faith to read it daily, to pray about it, come to church weekly, and to keep the commandments of God. These things change lives. They've changed mine, and I have the written and verbal testimonies of hundreds of others which testify that they too have been changed. I've seen addicts gain freedom, marriages repaired, foreign languages mastered, fears conquered, and hearts filled with love for their fellow man.

Thank you for encouraging me and preparing me to serve! I owe everything to you!

                                                            MTC companion reunion!

Monday, May 23, 2016

2 more weeks!

The sweet, elderly man that we met came to church again this last Sunday, and being the second time, he was a lot more perceptive and aware of what was happening than his first time. If I'm being completely honest, I haven't had investigators continue coming to church continually for multiple Sundays in a long time. The more comfortable and more familiar people become with the sacrament service, what will be involved, and how they can prepare, the more capable they are of having a really spiritual experience from it. 
We are still talking with our friend from Brazil on Facebook, and he has continued reading the Book of Mormon although we haven't been able to meet with him again in person yet. 

I don't know if any of you have every played the impossible game on your TI-84 and 86 calculators, but it's the kind of game that actually has some parallels to missionary work and life in general. The actual game itself doesn't change but goes on infinitely. After playing the same first part of the game so many times you get really good, but you often forget that the next portion is new. Then, you forget the principles you just practiced a billion times and have to go back to the beginning. In missionary work, it is so easy to get into the everyday rut of just talking to people, but in order to reach our full potential you cannot just think you know everything, lay back, and relax. I have a testimony that constant, prayerful effort is constantly needed if you want to achieve anything of lasting worth in this work or in this life. 
I know just the same as when I left that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in God's Kingdom on the earth in these latter days. However, I have been humbled in many, many ways. 
Bennett, way to push through and make High School something great! You are so great in so many ways, and now you will have the rest of your life to continue to develop those skills!

Love you!
Elder Christensen

Monday, May 16, 2016

"Boys be Ambitious!!".

I heard a phrase from an 89 year-old son of God that stuck with me and echoed in my heart. We had just finished helping him carry his bag of books, which, since he was carrying a cane at the same time, was causing him some difficulties especially as he was trying to ascend a nearby staircase. He turned to us and after expressing his thanks he told us in a raised voice, "Boys be Ambitious!!". 
The next day during breakfast we watched a conference talk from April 1972 entitled "Know Thyself, Control Thyself, Give Thyself". I recommend that you watch it rather than read it. Reading just doesn't quite do it justice. As a missionary nearing his final 2 weeks, any other words could not have had greater impact on me than those did at this time. 
As we near the end of my service in any field, I am sometimes tempted to say something like this, "Self, you have worked pretty darn well up till now, and you deserve a rest. You've done your fair share and probably even more than your fair share. The end result won't even change that much. You have a guaranteed place in the hearts and minds of others." 
It is at times like these that I am reminded of the Savior's warning to such in Luke 12:20, "Thou fool, this night shall thy soul be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?" 
This work is not finished until the Lord comes himself and declares that it is.

The same man that we met ended up suddenly walking in to church on Sunday, which caught us completely by surprise, and expressed that he was simply filled with happiness and gratitude. 
(He also added "Girls be Ambitious" to the phrase for those who were worried)
He left the building telling us that he felt cleansed and full of joy. Now, I might be just an overexcited missionary, but I can testify that THAT is the power of the Atonement and the effect that the love of God has on those who are humble enough to let it into their hearts. 
Be diligent, be humble, be ambitious. 
Elder J is pushing right along, getting down to work, and never losing focus! He's a blast to be around and is always on top of what we need to be doing.

We've seen some incredible miracles this last week. By following an impression of the Spirit on Wednesday, we were led to meet a new friend from Brazil, he came to church yesterday and is a stand up young man!
I love you all!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

May 2, 2016 Home Stretch!

Ah yeah! Way to go Aaron! What's been the most fun part about driving so far?
Summer is definitely a great time to drive, but I feel a little bad for you that you don't get to drive the Mazda to school in the winter time. There was nothing quite like that car! 
It sounds like you avoided a stressful driving test :) I'm glad that you still remember it, Mom!
There's nothing more encouraging to oneself than seeing your driving instructor blowing up about how bad of a driver the last student was. I was confident in my ability, but no one likes to drive with the constant pressure of being berated for even the slightest mistake. It is not a good environment to learn. How was driving with Mr. Eiguren, Aaron? 

What a fantastic way to spend your last month as a senior, Bennet! It's kind of interesting how my last month as a missionary is at the same time as your last month. How does it feel to almost be done? Is there anything that you still want to do before the month is up? 
After high school, people tend to split up and go their separate ways, and on a mission, I'm not sure when I'll be coming back to Japan again. For the last few years, your classmates and teachers have been a huge part of your life, helped you get where you are now, and you've helped them get to where they are now. No matter where they go, and no matter where you go, don't forget them! Separating physically from those we love is necessary, but just keep doing your very best whatever your calling or position in life. Take lots of pictures for me! I love you!

Right now, in Fujisawa we're planning a talent show for the Saturday before I get on a plane to fly home, and I'm working with the other missionaries and some members in our ward to perform a piece and invite as many people as I can from my past areas to make it a night to remember. It will be a wonderful way to see my mission come full circle.

I have come to the sure knowledge that this church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints contains the fullness of Jesus Christ's gospel, the keys of the priesthood of God, a living prophet in Thomas S. Monson, and is the only church with the ordinances necessary to return to live with God again. I know these things of myself, and I have felt the Holy Ghost confirming to me that it is true. Please come and see!

Elder Christensen

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

April 26, 2016 E mail

April 26, 2016

Dear Mom,

Elder Johnson is too good of a person for me. Really! He is a second transfer missionary right not, but he is more than ready to tackle the many stresses and difficulties of being a missionary. He is focused and determined and willing to make good goals and to go for them. He has gone through his fair share of trials, which I was surprised and humbled to hear. I think I often forget how blessed I have been to grow in the situation that I did, but also I have grown in my respect and love for everyone who has made it where they have in spite of many mountains to climb. His faith in Christ is unshakeable, and his desire to share the gospel has been nourished and nurtured before entering the MTC. 
What sort of conversation did you have with his Mom?

I unfortunately don't have as much time to write as I would like, but to put it simply.
This transfer we are going to serve. We are going to serve until the very moment I get on the plane, and I fully intend to serve on the plane, in the airport, and until President Scoggins releases me. I love my Heavenly Father, and I know that He will fulfill all His promises to us. 

Elder Christensen

Monday, April 18, 2016

Back to Fujisawa - the final stretch!

Dear Mom,
Honestly, I have been about as in the dark as you can be about the earthquake news, and all the information I've heard has been second-hand. There really is a missionary bubble when it comes to world events, but one of the men we are teaching has a friend living in Kyushu, where the earthquake struck. That friend is currently living in their car since the roof to heir home caved in making it unsuitable for shelter. The missionaries in the Tokyo South Mission have been advised to double check their 72-hour kits and emergency water, but no other warnings have come so we're doing our best with the many blessings that we have been given.

It's finally down to the last six weeks of my time in Japan. And with the announcement of transfers this last Saturday, I've been asked to serve back in the Fujisawa Stake in an area I already hold dear to my heart although I've never served there personally. Fujisawa Area is home to the stake center and a culturally diverse population. My companion, Elder Johnson, is a second transfer missionary from North Ogden, Utah, and a lover of sports and of making the most of life. He, at the beginning of his 2 year mission, and me, nearing the end of mine, will be yoked together, so to speak, for the next 6 weeks. I pray that as we both serve every day with all our might, mind, and strength that our efforts will be guided by the Spirit so that we may touch, no, change the lives of many forever. We are all given only a short time on this earth, and it is completely up to us how we spend it.  I am so grateful to Sister Whitesides and the love-filled, inspired life she lived. I remember every Sunday she would sit in the back right corner of the chapel waiting to welcome us with the sweetest smile you've ever as seen we walked in the doors. For a kid like me, I feel like I was loved and cared for by this loving, daughter of God, and when I passed the sacrament as a deacon and as a teacher, she was still there, quietly taking the bread and water.  Her actions were small, but impactful. She has moved on to the next stage in this grand plan of happiness. 

Sister Gay Whitesides and Nancy, thank you for always welcoming into your home when I came by as a twelve and thirteen year old boy and for always giving fast offerings when I came by. I did not understand the importance of fast offerings at the time, nor did I give much thought to what I was doing, but as a young man learning his priesthood responsibilities, it was truly a priceless lesson.  My role really wasn't that big. I simply received the fast offering envelopes and walked to the houses I was assigned. Yours, Sister Erdman, Sister and Brother Jackson, and one other home that I can't remember, but they didn't speak to me much. Then, I turned that envelope in at church and went about my merry way. But, I can't help feel now that we were part of something bigger. That offering went to the Bishop who then used it to help others in need, perhaps in dire need. You were part of miracles, and you helped me be a part of it too. 

When you look at life from an eternal perspective, meaning, looking at life believing that that there is a purpose for why we are here and meaning to every action we make, it's amazing how much more meaningful life becomes. There is a purpose to our life, and that is to "prepare to meet God" (Alma 34:32). My membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has brought many, many blessings to my life and a joy, a happiness, that only get stronger as time passes and experienced gained. If you feel that your daily efforts just don't pay off as well as you hoped  and that things just don't seem to turn out as well as you had hoped, I invite you to meet with the missionaries, they can help!

I love this gospel, I love Japan, and I love you!
Elder Christensen

Monday, April 11, 2016

Quick note April 11, 2016

April 11,  2016

There is so much joy to be found in sharing the gospel! In the moment, it is almost always stressful and their is often anxiety, but afterwards we have done all that we can, I have a testimony that God works wonders.

I'm running out of email time, but I shared a story with Dad that really strengthened my testimony this week! 
Things are going well in Machida!
I love you!
Elder Christensen

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Loving life in Machida April 6, 2016

Dear Mom, 
We'll be watching Conference next weekend hopefully with one of our investigators and his 13 year old son. He has truly been humbled by his life situation, and the thing of most importance to him is his relationship his son. For 13 years, it has just been the two of them learning, growing, and pushing through everything together, and the love and trust between them is tangible. He has downloaded the Book of Mormon onto his phone, and we're working with him to create a habit of regular study and prayer. It's amazing the difference of perspective that comes into one's life when they regularly study the scriptures. 
We are definitely not alone in teaching them. They have friends at school who are members of the church, friends in the other missionaries, and friends with other investigators. The Machida Ward is an amazing place, and I feel so blessed to serve here.
We had a takoyaki (fried octopus dumplings) in Yokohama today which is just one of Elder Menzawa's creations but the best is yet to come!

I love you all!
Elder Christensen

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Happy Easter From Japan! March 29, 2016

Happy Temple Tuesday!
Yesterday, Elder M and I, the sisters from M and their investigator, and our investigator and his teenage son were riding the train on our way to a Family Home Evening in K with the W's, and in my heart, I was praying for an opportunity to help these dear friends feel the Spirit and have a defining moment in the process of their conversion. Seated in the same train car as us was a middle-aged women, seemingly distressed and incredible irate and someone or something. She kept dialing her phone, yelling into it for a few seconds, going silent and then hanging up and doing it again. She was yelling about murder and betrayal and all sorts of disastrous things and causing quite a stir. The people around her were trying their best to ignore the "annoyance", but after turning their backs, many people were quietly smiling to themselves, amused at this woman who clearly didn't understand how ridiculous she sounded screaming at no one. 
How can I describe the emotions that I had? I was, at the time, talking to our investigators son about basketball, but it was practically impossible to have a normal conversation with a woman constantly yelling in the background. The son commented apologetically that sometimes there are "those kind of people" in Japan as well, and I didn't know how to respond. I knew absolutely nothing about this woman or what she was going through, her background, personality, nothing, but I couldn't bring myself to condemn this woman whom I knew nothing about. I don't want to do that kind of thing. I, in an attempt to sound like a missionary, told him that we needed to treat her like a daughter of God even if she was acting strangely. Even as I spoke the words, I realized how hollow and empty the words sounded as I too was standing motionless, frozen by the awkwardness of the situation. How would I respond if that was my real sister? Would I tell her to be quiet because she was bothering other people? Would I simply ignore her or pretend that I wasn't related to her? If I say something and she really is mentally unstable, I could just make things worse or embarrass myself? 

As I stood thinking about what to do, I felt that in this situation the only thing that I could do was to become an outlet. Sometimes, people just need someone to talk with them, and in a place like Tokyo, I felt very strongly that that was what this woman needed. Without waiting, I walked over sat down next to her and asked, "Are you doing ok? It sounds like something terrible just happened. I'm a Christian missionary  and I've been dealing with some pretty tough things myself recently, so if you need to get anything off your chest, I am willing to listen." 
She suddenly got very quiet, and the outbursts stopped. She didn't say anything for a few moments, but then then said quietly, "could you hear it?" She then went quiet again next stop where we both got off, and she went off her separate way. 

She may very well have been mentally handicapped, but I am grateful to my Father in Heaven for briefly allowing me to see one of His children as He sees them. I am not a perfect example, and I would never claim to be. There was only ever one perfect person to live on this earth, but I learned in that moment a powerful lesson about seeing others through Heaven's Eyes (For those of you who know the movie Prince of Egypt that is a reference).

I think that we can all apply the words of the prophet Mormon a little more in our lives.
Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen.
Moroni 7:48

I testify that Jesus is the Christ, the Savior of the world, that Joseph Smith was called of God as a prophet, and that the Book of Mormon and all of the things written within it are true, and I am glad to be a witness of these truths in these latter days.

I love you all!
Elder Christensen

Monday, March 21, 2016

News from Machida 3/21/16

Dear  mom,
Elder M is 20 years old and is from I Prefecture in Japan and comes from a family of four with an older brother.  He thinks things through very logically, which is very nice for me, and he always has a reasons for the things he does. 
The first week I arrived in Machida our hot water was broken so we were faced with some difficult decisions, either take freezing showers, go to the other Elder's apartment (about a half an hour by train and foot) to shower, heat up water on the stove and take a bath, or go to a public bath. Elder M was really pushing for the public bath! We ended up just going to the other apartment, but he was pretty bummed about it.
When it comes to missionary work, he is very good at teaching to the needs and understanding of other people, and we've been able to teach with a lot of power and unity during lessons and when we first run in to others.
There is a lot to say, and he isn't always the most open with his feelings. However, I trust him and we're already seeing a lot of miracles. I've learned a lot more on how to trust others by being with him.
Why don't I just go ahead and introduce the whole gang! Right now, in Machida, there are 8 missionaries. Our fearless zone leaders, Elder  N and Elder J, The District Leader companionship, Elder Christensen and Elder M, the lone sisters of the district, Sister P(who is an amazing singer) and Sister  G (who likes ultimate frisbee!), My dear former companion, Elder P and a missionary fresh to the field from Tennessee, Elder M. 
From my time as a District Leader in Hodogaya and Kamakura, and my time as a Zone Leader in Kunitachi, I've felt more and more the importance of delegating assignments.

Machida Ward and Machida Stake is full of amazing, talented individuals and families who are much more qualified and capable than I am. It reminds me of my days back in the Boise 1st Ward! I love the advice given in Preach My Gospel Chapter 13, "Local Church leaders and members are your best allies. Respect them and strive to build good relationships with them. As you work with these leaders, remember that they have other responsibilities associated with their callings. Seek to be a blessing, not a burden, to the leaders of your stake and ward. Your attitude should be one of, 'How can we help?'"
As missionaries and as a district, right now, we are letting the ward know that we are willing to help out in any righteous way possible, and we are doing our best to fulfill our own callings as best as we can by preaching the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and testifying that we know of its truth for ourselves. 

Next week I will be performing the baptismal interview for an 18 year old young man named H(for those who don't know the district leader is responsible for giving interviews to the investigators of the other missionaries in the district) who will be baptized on the 3rd of April
After several weeks, his parents gave him permission (a huge miracle!) to be baptized. We, as a district had fasted and prayed that his parents' hearts would be softened, and I know that the Lord answered that prayer. I have a strong testimony or the power of fasting and prayer, and I can promise that the blessings of the Lord are available to those who ask.

I love you!
Elder Christensen

Monday, March 14, 2016

Transfers Again! March 14, 2016

Welcome home Sam! If you get the chance to talk to him, let Sam know that I met Ken Urata, who also served in Fukuoka, while I was serving in Kamakura. 

Dear everyone!
Sorry for not updating you very well last week, but the transfers have come and gone again. It's really a strange feeling to only live in a place for 3 months and then leave. I constantly feel like there was so much more I wanted to do, so much more I wanted to give, people I wanted to meet and teach and help. For the next 6 weeks and hopefully until I end my service as a full time missionary, I have been assigned to the Machida 1st ward in the Machida Stake and have been asked to serve as District Leader of the missionaries here with Elder Menzawa as my companion, a bundle of fun from Ibaraki Prefecture and a diligent planner of preparation day activities. 
One of the first things that everyone here said to me here was that they wanted to be unified as a district and to work together to support the people that we teach as they change their lives to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ and eventually join the church, which is an brand new group of people, responsibilities, and pressures.
Right now, there are 3 people that Elder Menzawa and I are meeting regularly, 3 that the zone leaders, Elder Jesperson and Elder Naganuma are working with, 2 that the sisters are meeting with, and several that the other 2 elders, Elder Phillips and Elder Willard are working with.
Staying organized in a new area has been the hardest obstacle so far, and I'm praying that Heavenly Father will help me as I'm adjusting because there is so much potential here. The ward members are loving, bold, open, and willing to help. 
With the short time I have left, I would just like to ask that you pray so that the missionaries here in Machida and the members will be able to work together in unity. The desire is there on both sides, and if we  can find a way to work together, then I know that miracles will happen.

Doctrine and Covenants 88:118 "seek learning, even by study and by faith". 
Study is important but we must also learn by acting in faith.

I love you!
Elder Christensen

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

March 1, 2016

Sister E is a member of the H Ward where I served last year and had a great relationship with their family. They have several daughters who are in the young women's program and were always a blast to be around. Around Christmas time in K when you sent me the big stocking of missionary outfit, she visited K a and was astounded at the stocking and wanted to ask you for some mom tips! She cares a lot about her daughters and wants them to continue to be strong and active in the church, and when I talked about our family, she told that she was especially impressed that in our family, everyone has served missions so far. Helping the youth grow up strong in the gospel is on the minds of most members here in Japan, especially since many of these members are only 2nd or 3rd generation members. 
Thank you so much for messaging her back and being a friend! 
Although we had contacted with about 4 of our good friends, some of whom are investigating the church and one man who we just met on the street, none of them ended coming to church, but we were able to get in contact with two of them, who had other appointments come up and couldn't attend, which was too bad because I gave a talk! 

I am astounded at how many amazing people I am blessed to meet with on a daily basis on my mission in Japan. And although I may not be the most eloquent at expressing it in writing or the most timely at keeping in contact with everyone that I meet, I am grateful for the knowledge that I, and you, and everyone around us is a child of a loving God and a member of the same Heavenly Family. I can think of few greater messages than this. I love the Japanese people and consider them part of my family, and I hope and pray with all of my heart that not only them, but that every single person on this planet will let this message enter their heart, try it out, and watch as your view of the world changes and your joy increases. I promise that it will happen if you let it.

Moroni 7:45

I love you all!
Elder Christensen

This is our bishop and his family, the J family! They are a blast!

Monday, February 22, 2016

February 22, 2016 e-mail still happy!

BenBeeeeeen! I will see you at the Y then! Apart from being with your favorite older siblings, what are you excited for?
We had a great lesson this last week with N the week before last, but he wasn't able to meet with us  last Saturday or come to church on Sunday. Since the very beginning, we've taught him about the Gospel of Jesus Christ and used it as a background for the other things that we teach. Although we've talked with him about faith and taught him what it means, he still hasn't decided that it's something he wants in his life. I think that Alma 32 is a fantastic scripture to read with him! He doesn't feel like a relationship with God could really help in life, and when compared with a life where he has a lot of covenants to keep, he doesn't think it is worth the sacrifice. 
Why do we need God? What does a relationship with God have to offer us? 
I think both of these questions are worth considering for ourselves, and we are hope that while we teach N he will find that answer for himself and be guided to make the right choice.

I can't wait for this next week!
I'm going to try and share more of my experiences on Facebook too so keep your eyes open!

Love you,
Elder Christensen

Monday, February 15, 2016

Happy Valentines Day!

Dear Mom, Dad, Amanda, Blake, Bennett, Aaron, friends and family!

I just want to say right off the bat how impressed I am at Blake's sassy face. You, my dear brother, have a natural talent! In all seriousness, I hope you will keep singing Acapella and let your younger brother join you in making beautiful acapella tunes. How did you and the other members decide what to sing? Are there section leaders in that kind of group?

You are amazing! Also, Aaron, how did your competition go? How did you feel going into the concert?

I did get the package and immediately enjoyed the warm, fuzzy sweater you sent! On Sunday the   weather warmed up and it felt like a wonderful glimpse into spring. Winter, however, is not quite finished. Today we have been blessed with sleet and snow as a reminder to not pack up our long sleeve shirts and overcoats. I almost thought that I might not need them again!

Elder F and I had a ton of opportunities to teach people for the very first time this week as we were outside trying our best to find people who will make the time to listen and who can overcome the many influences opposing the work here in such a modern country. As part of keeping organized records for ourselves and helping the leaders of the mission and church know how the work is progressing,  we keep results and numbers of all the people we invite, lessons we teach, investigators we have, and other important information. I was actually told on the street by a man that the work we do must be hard because of all the quotas that we have to fill and the deadlines to make. I hope that this is taken as seriously as possible when I say that not a single aspect of my work, of our companionship's work, and of any of Jesus Christ's missionary's  work is done in order to simply meet some set quota that marks us as a success or failure or gives us any sort of reward from the leaders of the church. When we stop someone and talk to them, it is driven by our love for them, however imperfect, and our sincere desire to somehow, someway, bring them into contact with this simple, but powerful message, that God the Father exists, that Jesus is the Christ, the Savior and Redeemer of the world, and that complete gospel of Jesus Christ and the authority from God necessary to perform saving ordinances were restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith. Then, we ask that everyone please test this message through study, sincere prayer, and a humble heart to see if it is not true. 

We're meeting with a young man who hasn't decided whether or not he even needs God in his life, but who had a desire to become a kinder person and eventually the kind of father who understands his children. He may be 25 years old, but I feel that we are similar in many ways. Please pray that he will be humble enough to recognize the promptings of the Spirit guiding him.

I love you all!
Elder Adam Christensen

Monday, February 8, 2016

In a good groove! February 8, 2016

I hope that after this last transfer Elder F and I stay together for a while! Working with new people is definitely a skill and provides opportunities for new growth, but now we've been able to get into a rhythm together and meet some incredible young people with interest in meeting and learning more, which means that a lot of changes often leads to people dropping off and a drop in effectiveness at least for a bit. We tried planning some time to play soccer last week, but with preparation for a mission tour from Elder Whiting of the Asia North Area Presidency we had to cancel it for now. But don't worry! We will do it eventually! We're getting a lot better at planning with each other and preparing for things in the future so that we can maximize what time we do have. I've grown to realize how precious time is especially in missionary work, and more now than ever we're trying to make the most of it.
Right now, we have a goal as a companionship to visit more members each week and build their confidence in us as teachers of the gospel and capable of inviting the Spirit into their homes. 

I haven't caught any glimpses of hamster bread yet, but you can bet I'll keep my eyes open! Something like that will surely not go unnoticed.

I love you,
Elder Christensen

Monday, February 1, 2016

New Companion in Kunitachi February 2016

Dear Mom,

 Transfer calls came and went! Sorry for not letting you know last week! Elder F is a fireball from Brigham City, Utah and has spent his whole mission up till now in F, but joined me in T to bring the gospel to everyone here! He's still 19, but is on transfer 12. He wants to become a Psychiatrist and wants to study at Utah State University after his mission.
He is the youngest in his family, and actually, his dad served in the Tokyo South Mission 35 years ago! Can you guess what his favorite sport is?

Those are two of the people who we are meeting with about 3 times a week to teach! The sisters here in Kunitachi actually teach the mother, who is 80 years old, separately for some "woman to woman" lessons, which seems to be working. When Elder D and I taught them together, she didn't seem to understand very well and her retention of information wasn't very good, but now she is flying! The sisters have given her the Liahona magazine and the children's Book of Mormon, complete with pictures. I wouldn't have thought that it would make too big of a difference to use the children's book versus the real thing when teaching, but it did!
She has slowly been developing her faith that there is a God in heaven, who is our Father, and that His Son, Jesus Christ, is our Savior, and she has said several times that she does believe, but that acting on that belief isn't as simple of a choice. 
Sister T, one of the Sister Missionaries and a Japanese sister, has really been able to help resolve the concerns she does have to help her build confidence. Resolving the concerns of others is an exhausting endeavor since there always seems to be more no matter many you solve. Plus, more often resurface when you thought you had solved them. There has come new meaning into the phrase "Charity suffereth long" (Moroni 7:45), but oh, how terrible I still am at being charitable.

Thankfully, I haven't had to correct people many times, and actually, all of the missionaries here are trustworthy people that have a determination keep the commandments and remain worthy to enter the temple of God. There are a surprising amount of temptations here in Japan that could threaten anyone, not just a missionary, to violate temple covenants or loosen their standards, but the missionaries and members stay faithful. The only corrections I've had to make have come when a standard just needed to be clarified so that there was no misunderstanding. 

Having entered the 14th transfer on my mission, I'm seeing more and more of the faces I know returning back home and going onward and upward to bigger and better things, but it is incredible how the mission is progressing as a whole. Under the leadership of President W as he was inspired of God, the missionaries here have grown in their ability to powerfully testify of the divinity of the Savior Jesus Christ and the reality of the Restoration of the His Gospel through the Prophet Joseph Smith in whatever language they may be speaking. 
I too know that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, the Savior prophesied of by ancient prophets, and I will put my entire reputation, all that I am, as little as that might be, on that testimony, which I know by the power of the Holy Ghost.

I love you all!
Elder Christensen

Sister K came to Japan with me, and is already going home! 

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

e-mail from January 25, 2016

Dear Mom, 
I know exactly how you feel, and I've actually felt myself end up on the painful end of the communication. 
As a district leader, a zone leader, and even before I had any formal leadership responsibilities I sought diligently to not only be an example of a disciple of Christ, but to encourage and assist others to live a higher standard of obedience.
In the Missionary Handbook, on pg. 62, there is a passage that I remember very clearly;
Opportunities to correct the attitudes or behavior of other missionaries [or anyone else for that matter] are important teaching moments. When handled with love, these opportunities build faithfulness and effectiveness in those who may otherwise fall short of what the Lord expects of them.  
And one in Doctrine and Covenants Section 121:43;
Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy;
Correction isn't too difficult to do, but it is one of the most difficult things to do well, and I'm not even a parent yet.  Dad and Mom, I'm sure you've felt this before, and I would really appreciate any insights you've gained on the subject. As a missionary, about 99.9% of the people I meet on the street, on the trains, in their homes, and in other various places have differing beliefs than I do as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I've also met people who remind me a lot of myself in a lot of ways, have many of the same desires as me, and have very similar personalities to myself as well. And yet, for example, the specific beliefs that we have are different. In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, we believe in a God, the Father of our spirits, in a Savior, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost. In Japan, there is a predominant belief in an "8 million gods" or a God in pretty much everything around us.
Trying to teach these principles on the street to people in Japan, I sometimes wonder to myself if its really that important or worth the trouble to clearly define the definition of God. While were visiting a less active member this last week, he got clearly upset with us as we taught that God gives commandments for us to follow because he believes that God is ok with what ever he chooses to do, and he felt like we were trying to force our perception of God onto him. 
I never want people to get angry at me! I don't like it, and I certainly don't look for opportunities to make people angry! However, I want to focus on "what is right, rather than who is right". 
I'm grateful for the chance that I have to teach the truth that I do know about our true identity as children of God with a potential to return to live with Him and eventually to become like Him, and for the truths that I don't yet understand, I hope that I can patiently, but diligently find the answers and help others find them as well.

We've actually been incredibly blessed to be working with a ton of amazing people here in K and this last week, there was progression and some resolving of concerns. One of our investigators is fine to meet and even to read the Book of Mormon and pray, but joining the church is something that he just refuses to do. In fact, he hasn't come to church for the past few weeks because he says that if we isn't joining there isn't any purpose in coming. But, we have pleaded with him to continue to come and at least continue to interact with the amazing people who attend on weekly. You don't have join the church to come to come to church! 

Love you all,
Elder Adam Christensen

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Letter from January 19, 2016

Aren't birthdays incredible! I'm grateful for the chance that we
recognize each person for the great impact that they make in our
lives. What would life be like if they weren't there? One of my
favorite movies, "It's a Wonderful Life" explores that possibility and
teaches with simplicity the beautiful truth that "the worth of souls
is great in the sight of God" (Doctrine and Covenants 18:10) You never
know how much good you do. Grandpa has lived 88 years of blessing
other people, and we love him!

One of the fun activities that we get to do as missionaries is called
a "kubarikai", "配り会", or more appropriately, "see how many people you
can stop by just talking to them in English!".
In Japan, many people have a negative opinion of people passing out
fliers or just stopping people on the street in general. Oftentimes,
there are people trying to coerce customers to come into their bar or
check out their club. So In order to avoid that negative stereotype, a
lot of advertisers stand out of the way and quietly hold out fliers,
usually placed in a convenient package including free tissues (in case
you ever need them!).
In the midst of this craziness and with the pressure of become an
"お邪魔" weighing on your mind, I have found truth and success in the
scriptures. "Ye are a light unto the world. A city which is set on a
hill can not be hid...Let your light so shine before men that they may
see your good works and glorify your Father which is in Heaven"
(Matthew 5:14-16)
When you work with all your heart to love and serve others, you WILL
stand out. Some people will ignore you. Some people will call you not
very kind words. Some people will resent you and say you are just
seeking for attention. However, never, ever let yourself become
discouraged. When you are serving others in the name of Christ, you
are bearing witness of His love for them. When you sincerely serve
others, teach others true doctrine, and invite others to come unto
Christ in His name, you are "only in the service of your God" (Mosiah

What a wonderful time to be alive!
Elder Christensen

Monday, January 4, 2016

Happy New Year! January 3, 2016

Dear Mom, Dad, Amanda, Blake, Bennett, Aaron, family and friends,

What a blessing it is to have deadlines! I've come to terms with the fact that I've entered the final 5 months of my mission here in Japan, but I don't think I've ever felt more prepared or more excited for anything in my life. Who could ever get trunky when there is so much good left to be done? I think it's pretty incredible that each of you are doing such great things, and I can't believe how far we've come already.

I love what is written to us in the Missionary Handbook from the Quorum of the Twelve  Apostles, "Time is one of the most precious resources you've been given". God has lovingly given us time to learn, grow, and experience, and he has also mercifully and lovingly given us an end to that time as well. Death comes suddenly and it also can come slowly, but if we are prepared, we don't need to fear. I am grateful for God's loving gift of His Son, Jesus Christ, who showed us the way to prepare, and who, through His sacrifice and through our obedience to commandments and sacred covenants, will lift us to the greatest gift and reward in existence, eternal life! 
I love my Heavenly Father. I love Christ, and I desire to be like them!

With all my love,
Elder Christensen