Tuesday, February 11, 2014

TEAM Training Team

Sent from my Verizon Wireless 4G LTE smartphone

The Assisters

Emily is serving in a leadership position in San Antonio where she recently toured the mission and did a lot of training. President Slaughter sent us the above picture yesterday with a very complementary letter. Pictured are the two Assistants, the Traveling Assistants, President Slaughter, and Hermana Christensen with her companion.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Fwd: The Assisters

Dear Family,

As always, it's such a treat to read all of your letters and hear about what is going on. A shout out to all of my dear missionary friends whose letters I also read and enjoyed this week. Y'all are fabulous examples to me always, and I'm so thrilled for your success and appreciative of your thoughts that often help me complete my own.

I can't believe how old my siblings and cousins are starting to look. I'm starting to see more adults and fewer and fewer kids these days. Aaron, is that a zit I see on your chin?! Thanks for the pictures, btw. I love having visuals, and the one you caught of Grandma and Grandpa is beautiful.

We've had a really good week. I love Sister I and we're going to have such a great transfer together. This is her last one, and she really wants to work super hard, so we're going to. A lot of time this week was spent planning for the transfer, which includes Christmas and Christmas conference as well as New Years and all kinds of fun exchanges etc, so we haven't done much teaching yet, but I have faith that we're going to. And it's going to require faith, because we are going to be busy! We'll be conducting six days worth of exchanges, helping to plan and execute Christmas Conference for the whole mission, we have two Mission Leadership Councils this transfer, as well as President's Interviews. It's going to be so much fun! My calendar is very colorful with all kinds of meetings and events. So, in the mean time, we're just going to turn things over to Heavenly Father, work as hard as we can, and trust that he'll help us to do what we need to do.

Last night, we had a meeting with Sister Slaughter and planned how to organize the making of 40 + gingerbread houses, one for each district. I had no idea that all of those years of gingerbread house making would come in so handy. I pointed everyone towards hot glue and egg white powder, and I think that's going to save us a lot of headaches. Wahoo!

The new ward is fabulous!! We have 15 ward missionaries, a fabulous ward mission leader, super solid members, and tons of dinners at members houses. We were really busy on Thanksgiving with all the transferring, but we were fed a lovely dinner and met a lot of ward members there. Also, our bishop is fabulous. I think Sister K must have just had a bad experience with him, because Sister I and I both find him to be very personable and helpful. Busy, obviously, but that's how you know he's a good bishop.

Friday morning after transfers, Sister I and I had the privilege of being able to clean the temple. While Sister I was taking her turn vacuuming the ordinance room chairs, I was able to take a close look at the mural on the wall and think about the beauty of the building we were in. We were "cleaning," but it was already so clean I hardly felt like we were doing anything. I just loved being there and thinking about the symbolism of the architecture, and knowing how much love and care was put into building it. What a blessing it is to be able to have temples and to receive the blessings and knowledge that Heavenly Father has for us there.

I feel like there was so much more this week than what I've lamely put into words, but I don't know how to explain it to anyone. I've just been so happy. I just love the gospel and I love being a missionary and I love Heavenly Father, and I love that I get to be here, and I love what I am learning, and even though I know there are still going to be more hard times up ahead, I'm ready for them, because I know that through the Savior's Atonement, everything will be alright. I know that Heavenly Father has a plan for each one of us. I've been thinking a lot about faith recently, and how great faith doesn't necessarily reflect the quantity as much as it does quality, consistency. Great faith is consistent, it shouldn't waver depending on whether we're having a good day or a bad one. At transfer meeting, President compared the story of Peter walking on water and the story of the Samaritan woman who pleaded for a miracle for her daughter but was ignored by Christ and rebuffed by his apostles several times before receiving the blessing she sought (Matthew 15). Simon was rebuked for having little faith even though he walked on water, whereas Christ told the Samaritan woman "great is thy faith." The difference is consistency. Even when Christ seemingly ignored this woman, she did not doubt, but continued to ask and to believe until she received the miracle she asked for her daughter. I love the verse in D&C 123:17 which was given to Joseph Smith in Liberty Jail "Let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power, and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed."

We met an older man this week who lost his wife a while ago and is unemployed. He kept telling us "I'm older than you, and I know things that you haven't experienced yet. When your faith is doubting, come to me and I'll help you answer your questions, because I know that there is no God, but I know why people continue to believe in him." How sad I felt for this man because of the simplicity of the gospel that I know that he would not choose to listen to. I testify to all of you that there is a God, that he is the father of our spirits and that he loves us. He has a plan for each one of us, and that plan is centered on the Atonement of his son Jesus Christ. I know that as we do everything in our power to keep his commandments and diligently plug away one day at a time, we can stand back with utmost assurance to see the hand of the Lord. Heavenly Father knows we can be perfect eventually, but he doesn't ask us to do it today. All we have to do is be diligent.

I love the gospel, I love you all, I'm so grateful to be here and I'm so grateful for the Atonement of Jesus Christ, which is real.

Have a fabulous week!

Hermana Christensen

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Re: A Cup of Fiery

Dear Family,

I can't believe that Alan is in Mexico!! The thought has popped into my head randomly throughout the week, and it just seems so weird! I'm so proud of you Alan! Way to go for starting up a conversation in Spanish. The more you make yourself speak it, the better you will learn it, and even if you ever feel awkward about it, just enjoy how well you can make fluent speakers laugh. Work hard in el CCM, but remember to be yourself and not to work so hard you poop out. That's not what Heavenly Father is asking you for.

Sally told me all about the BYU v. Utes game. I'm sorry it was another disappointment for those of us true believers  :)  My companion is a Ute, so I won't be able to talk about it too much this week.

We had such a great week here in Lake Austin!! To start with, the weather finally changed!! I never thought I would say this in my life, but the highs have been about 87 the last three days, and it feels so great! After 97-104 every day for the past month, and higher temperatures before that, 85 and even low 70s in the mornings and evenings feels like a dream! On Saturday, we had a whole day of driving around and looking for inactive members, and we found NOBODY, but I didn't even realize it until we got home and counted our numbers because I was happy to be outside in such gorgeous weather. What a blessing. 

Honestly, I think the best thing about this week has just been my attitude. The last several weeks I've been thinking a lot about "becoming a missionary" as President Slaughter calls it, and the struggle that so many missionaries go through because they feel like there are two versions of themselves, the missionary version, and the version they left back home. After going through their whole mission struggling to feel normal, they get home and have a crisis when they are suddenly a schizophrenic with two identities and they don't know which one to be. The problem is, they need to bring themselves with them on their mission, and then accept the changes that Heavenly Father works in them through their experiences, and then when they get home, they only have one identity, and it's better than anything they were before, so the temptation to return isn't nearly as great. I've also thought a lot about the importance of being ourselves on our missions. Heavenly Father has given us all talents and abilities that he needs us to use, wherever it is that he has placed us. We started developing those talents and abilities even before we came to this earth. We each have unique identities, and it is especially important to incorporate those things as missionaries so that we can do our work more effectively. As I've worked on that, being myself, teaching like myself, acting like myself, thinking like myself, talking like myself in both Spanish and English, and having a positive attitude, I have felt so much happier than I ever have before in my time as a missionary. My faith and hope have increased, and I just love being a missionary so much more!!

On Wednesday we had Zone Meeting and I was able to give a training on this topic. It was so much fun!! I love teaching people, especially other missionaries. A brand new Elder gave me a stellar complement at the end of the meeting. Just as preface, you should know that I love Elder Holland and I love the way he teaches. I have always thought it would be cool to be able to teach the way he does, and have now and again even thought about his style of teaching as I have been developing my own. After the meeting, Elder T told me "Elder S and I were sitting back there and decided that you got some of the fireiness from the same bucket they used to fill Elder Holland up with." That definitely made me smile.

We were able to have some great lessons with N this week. She's back on track and has realized that the dejection and despair she felt last week were not feelings from Heavenly Father. She came to all three hours of church this week and set up three visits for the coming week. I think we're going to start working on some family history with her.

We contacted 10 referrals this week, which is a record for me. We've really been trying not to knock random doors this transfer, but rather work through the people we already know to find new people to teach. So far, we haven't had to do any door knocking, and I hope to keep it up.

This Saturday is the Relief Society General Broadcast. All you wonderful ladies, GO! And if you can, invite a non-member or even a less-active friend. What a wonderful experience we have to be able to listen to a prophet of God that has the Priesthood power and authority to lead and guide us in our day and age. Everyone needs that blessing. If you're afraid to extend the invite, role play it first. Maybe that would be a good FHE activity.

I love you all so much!! I was thinking this morning about how much my testimony has deepened in the last 7.5 months. As we progress in the gospel, we don't necessarily learn a lot of shocking new doctrine, but our understanding and appreciation of what we already do know grows and deepens profoundly. I'm so grateful for a loving Heavenly Father that loves his children so personally and individually that he will put us all in the right place at the right time to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life again. I love my Savior Jesus Christ and the price he paid so that we can be resurrected and live with our families forever in his presence. I know the gospel is true, and I am so glad I have the opportunity to share it with other people.

I love you all so much!! You are all one of the greatest blessings in my life.

Hermana Emily

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Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Sept 2

Dear Family,

Thank you so much to all of you for your letters and emails! It has been so great reading about the goings on. Alan, I'm so glad that you were able to go through the temple. I thought about you this week. Go as much as you can before you head to Mexico. It's so good to be able to think about the promises that are made to you there, and you might not get to go much on your mission. Mom, I love the covenants of the temple. I've thought a lot about the promises, like you said, and how they are such an anchor for everyone, but especially for missionaries. I need those covenants in order to be successful here.

Last night was transfer calls. I didn't mention it last week because Hermana H and I just opened our area and it was pretty certain we would be staying here. Last transfer calls I couldn't stop thinking about them for two weeks in advance, but it barely crossed my mind Sunday morning before church. So when Elder Wcalled and told us they are closing Monte Vista C, we were both pretty shocked, and pretty sure he was pulling our leg. It wasn't until he offered to let us talk to President that we actually believed him. So there it is. Now that the Zone Leaders have finished remapping and ripping up their area book for us, everything is turning back to exactly the way it was before we got here. Why you might ask? I was reading in the Book of Mormon this morning about how the prophets wrote their record without knowing exactly why, and I feel kind of like that, but I do have some insights. 

First, S. Mom, she is now on the radar. We got her and her family to church this week, and I know they were able to talk to the bishop. As a side note, we got some referrals from them for people that live in Georgia, and when we got phone numbers to go with the names, I realized that instead of waiting three days until the office would be open, I could have just called you to pass them on to the Cherokee branch missionaries, but I didn't think that would quite be kosher.  :) )

Second, X. This Saturday (after we leave), the St. Cloud sisters that we live with will be holding a baptism for X, a 15 year old young man that we gave to them as a referral. He lives in an apartment complex that is almost entirely Spanish speaking and never would have been found if we hadn't been there. Since the missionaries started teaching him, he has been to every Sacrament meeting, every mutual activity and every Seminary class. He has also stated that he wants to serve a mission. We're going to miss the baptism, which is a major bummer, but I'm so excited for him and the sisters. We've given away a bunch of other really good referrals too, and it finally makes sense why all the good people we found were passed off at the beginning and none of the referrals we received were worth a first lesson. 

Third, the temple. If I hadn't been here, I wouldn't have been able to go to the temple with the G family, or for myself. That was one of the most choice experiences of my mission, and I wouldn't have traded it for 500 first lesson referrals. I've also learned a lot from my companion and from the experience of opening an area and having very little success. Was I shocked and disbelieving when the news came? Amazingly so. But Monte Vista C has definitely been vale la pena.

Funny story to go with this all . . . the ZLs just finished tearing apart their area book for us and spent some long, boring days in doors. After one of these a few days ago, they stopped by the mission office and bumped into President Slaughter. Apparently the dialogue went something like this:

PS: Elders, how are you doing?
E: We've had a kind of a bummer day doing paper work. We finally finished going through our area book for the Monte Vista C sisters,
PS: Oh really? Well I sure hope there aren't any big changes.

President Slaughter!! I love that man. He's hilarious. 

The other other awesome thing that happened this week was training with President Slaughter. He talked about finding by faith and it was so awesome!!!! Alan, I want to give you a definition that has changed my mission and might make yours a lot easier from the get go. A goal reflects the desire of your heart and the vision you have to achieve it. If you desire to baptized 500 people in your area and you have feasible plans of how you can accomplish that, 500 people is a great goal, and don't let anybody tell you otherwise. PMG says to keep your expectations high, because when you lower them, your faith decreases. If you don't baptize anybody, but you did everything in your power to accomplish your goal, you were successful. Goals are not a prediction of what will happen, and don't get caught in trying to be "realistic" like I have. Think about your desires, come up with a feasible plan to accomplish it, and there's your goal. 

I love you all so much! Have a marvelous week!!


Friday, August 30, 2013

August 26th

Dear Family,

I want to start by letting you all know that this letter will not be as long as usual. The normal library we go to is closed today, and we're at one today that has a one hour limit, and I still have to write President. So, thank you all for your emails, I read them all, but don't have much time to respond.

I wanted to let you know about the temple. We were able to go on Friday as a companionship just to go. We saw the new video, and it was incredible!! So much made so muc more sense, and I felt like Heavenly Father really blessed me with a lot of insight and understading. The San Antonio temple is gorgeous, btw. It's not very big, but there is tons of beautiful stained glass throughout the building, and it just sparkles as you're sitting there thinking and feeling the spirit. It was so great to be in the house of the Lord and to be able to think in peace. We hardly wanted to leave.

But then the very next day we got to go again for the endowing and sealing of the G Family. What a choice experience!! We weren't sure we'd get in because the session was overbooked, but we got all green lights as we drove up Stone Oak Parkway, so we got there in time to get on the list, and there were enough spaces to get in. The whole Del Rio 3rd branch was there!! I felt like I was coming home!! So many people that I loved somuch in the temple. As we walked out of the lobby, there was Brother G, dressed all in white with a little pink ordinance tag pinned onto his shirt. He was beaming!! I only had time to shake his hand briefly before going to change. Waiting in line to get a name, Sister G came into the dressing room after her briefing with the temple matron. She saw me, ran over, engulfed me in a Mexican lady hug and just started to sob! "Thank you! Thank you! I love you, I miss you! Thank you so much for coming!" I cried a little bit too. We did the whole endowment session in Spanish (with the old video) and I understood the whole thing, although not quie well enough to really internalize it and get a lot of spiritual meaning from it. Brother G took Sister G through the veil, and we met them on the other side in the Celestial room. What a wonderful reunion. And the best is still to come! All of the 3rd ward packed into the sealing room and watched as the G's were sealed to each other. They were too short and plump to kiss over the altar without Sister G pusing up on her toes to reach.  :) We all made it through that part with dry eyes, but as soon as they brought the kids in, everyone melted. Sister G was crying, Brother G was crying, I was crying, the whole ward was crying, even Sister H who didn't know any of them was crying. It was so beautiful and such a sweet experience to be able to be there. Thinking about it after, I realized I have been there for a lot of firsts for the G family, especially Brother G. He gave his first talk, got his first calling, passed the Sacrament for the first time, bore his first testimony, conducted his first FHE, taught his first Sunday School lesson, wore his first tie to church, got the Melchizedek Preisthood, participated in his first confirmation, and is now endowed and sealed to his family for all eternity. Heavenly Father really is so wonderful to us, and he knew that I needed to have that experience to show me what I had been able to participate in during my time in Del Rio. It was so beautiful. If I don't have time today, I'll send pictures next week.

We're starting to find people, and I'm less exhausted than I was, both of which are good things. We only had one exchange this last week instead of two, and I think that really made a difference.

Also, I got the pictures you sent of Alan. What a stud!! I pulled them out to look at them last night, and I have to say I think I have the best looking brother on the continent. :)

Also, Lisa, I got the pictures of P and your wonderful letter and I drooled over them the whole night. I can't even tell you what a pick me up it is to get your letters and pictures every now and again. They always seem to come at exactly the right moments too when I'm feeling a little down and really need them. I'm going to try to write you this afternoon, but if I don't get the chance, know that I love you and I can't wait to come sleep on your couch next year!

I think those are the biggest highlights. 

I love you all so much!! Thank you for your prayers!

Have a wonderful week!