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