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!