Monday, February 25, 2013

Excerpt from Emily's letter 2/14-15

Most of this letter was responding to things we had written in our letters to Emily, so it won't be very meaningful to anyone, but I want to share what she wrote about learning Spanish.

"Quiero comparir una experiencia con el don de lenguas [translation: I want to share an experience with the gift of tongues] I really had a leg up with Spanish when we got here, but I've learned a whole lot since then which I can't take credit for either. Before the MTC, when I was studying Spanish, I would pull on the Book of Mormon [in Spanish] and read a few sentences or verses and get just a few words. It was hard enough that I  transferred over to Gospel Principles. I think our first full day our teacher, Hermano H had us read from the Book of Mormon as companionships "en voz alta" [out loud] just to practice our accent. I hadn't even been here 24 hours and suddently "Yo Nefi" started to make sense. I can't even explain it. It was so cool! It was just like *click, click, click, click* and everything started falling into place. I didn't understand perfectly of course, but the difference was amazing.. That's not me. That's the Spirit. Despues de nuestra ultima leccion con Gabriel, Hermana Lme dijo, [After our last lesson with Gabriel Sister Lund said...] "Your Spanish has gotten so much better!". I don't necessarily feel like I've learned a whole bunch, but she's right that the Spanish, what little I have, does flow. When I used to try to speak with the Ochoas, Valverdes, and Brother Arana, etc, it was so hard for me to think of what to say and how to say it. When we teach Gabriel, it's like my mind is just super well oiled. Even though I rely heavily on a few key verbs, I can communicate. It's really cool. And that's the power of the Spirit, not anything that I've done amazingly well."

Thursday, February 21, 2013

February 21, 2013

Querida Familia!!

I was so happy to get all of your letters this week. We obviously don't get letters on Sunday, and Monday was President's Day so we didn't get any letters then either. Last night, my district leader brought me a stack of Dear Elders and gave them to me one by one. With the letters from Mom, Clinton, Holly, Lisa and Erin, It took 10 pages to print them all out. Elder W was feeling pretty bad because he hasn't gotten a ton of mail during his time here, so I told him Dobby is stealing them because he wants Elder W to be discouraged and not go to Honduras. He got the message, and I think the analogy cheered him up.  :)

So, Dad, major props on your awesome Valentine's date!! What a great idea! I was so impressed and I loved the pictures you sent, thank you. Tell me how the tournaments go, and also, it took me forever to sort out what you meant with the two teams sentence, haha. And thank you for your thoughts about humility. They definitely gave me an improved perspective of the characteristic, and I'll be thinking about them a lot the next few days.

Mom, Thank you for your letters! I love being able to read them during the week. I understood all the Spanish you sent me, which is super exciting, and I even knew which verb tenses you were using. That's been one of my focuses this week along with memorizing the Joseph Smith story in Spanish, and some verses of hymns so I have something to sing in Spanish. I enjoyed your thoughts about South Africa and race relations in general. I liked what Sister A said, and I think she probably has a better idea about it than I did. I saw Quincey today and she told me that they are sending sister missionaries to South Africa again. If I weren't so excited to go to Texas, I would be disappointed, but I'm not. Also, good luck with the craziness tonight. I've always thought you were super woman. As far as photos go, I have some, I'm not sure how to send them because I don't have a camera cord and there's no place to plug in an SD card in these computers. Also, we're limited to 30 minutes because everyone is always looking to use a computer. I'll get pics to you as soon as I can.

Fun story of the week. Last week, I got some really weird red bumps underneath my right arm that I thought were bug bites until they turned into burning, itching blisters. I decided I should probably go to the clinic on Saturday night, but it was closed Sunday and again on Monday for Pres Day, so I went my first opportunity on Tuesday. I guessed they were probably Staph infected boils, and that's what the doctor diagnosed as well, so he put me on an antibiotic to clean them up. On my way across the street to the BYU student health center to pick up the pills, a car was pulling up pretty quickly to the crosswalk I was in. I turned to Hermana L and said, "if that car hits me, I'm going to sue." All of a sudden, I hear someone bellow "EMILY!!" so I looked, assuming it would be some guy I know from campus, and it was Uncle Kevin, of all people. I have no idea what he was doing in Provo, or how it just so happened that he was the first car in line at the light I was crossing under, but that was a pretty fun happening. Just so you know, the blisters are clearing up. I have a check up appointment tomorrow to make sure things are progressing well enough that it' s not MRSA, but I'm pretty sure it's not.

I meant to tell you last week that I saw Carlie W before she jetted off to Spain. So cool!! Also, I just bumped into Phil H as I'm sitting here typing this email. I told him hi as his Dad requested, and just in time too because he leaves on Monday. Crazy. More and more people I know come every week. It's been really fun.

My dilemma of the week happened this weekend, right after sending my snail mail letter. Saturday night, we had class with Hermano H and he did a demonstration in English of how to start lessons. After class, both Hna. L and I felt sick to our stomachs thinking about how much Spanish we don't have that we still need in order to do in Spanish what he did in English. What made me especially sick is that I know I could be working harder in class, but I'm not. I see the other members in my district busting their brains out over Spanish, constantly blowing smoke from their ears, and I know that I have more to give that I'm not being asked for. I know that Heavenly Father can help me to learn the Spanish I need through the Holy Ghost, even if it means I don't learn anything until I get to the field, but I don't want my plan to be relying on the Holy Ghost later if I have more to give now. Hna. L felt the same way. Sunday morning (I love Sundays!) we talked to our coordinating sister who we knew felt the same way. She said that she was in the same boat at about the same time during her MTC stay, and she was given the option of staying in her district, or moving to an advanced district and leaning in a week. She prayed about it and felt she needed to stay, and then was called as coordinating sister the next day (coordinating sister is like a zone leader, but they have one sister as well as a companionship of elders). Hna. L and I both said a prayer as a companionship, and then decided we would be open to whatever answer came, even if it meant having to split ways,which would be a tragedy because we work so well together. Right after we went to Music and the Spoken Word broadcast, and I just had this thought, maybe my purpose in the MTC is not to learn Spanish.' Then, during Relief Society, we sang "As Sisters in Zion" and "You can Make the Pathway Bright," and I distinctly felt that while I may not be learning as much Spanish as I could be in a more advanced district, this is where I need to be. There are things that I can be doing for my district in other capacities just by being the person that I am. I was put with my companion for a reason, I am with my other district members for a reason, and so while I am working as hard as I can to learn as much Spanish as possible, I feel like I have a bigger purpose here in the MTC than just that.

That being said, this week, Hna. L ended up having a rough week. She was just feeling really discouraged and being way to hard on herself about little things that not being able to master present subjunctive the first time she looked at it. Who of us is good enough at Spanish to do that? Certainly not me. Anyway, it's been a really good opportunity for me to practice being positive, supportive, and patient and I've been able to do a lot of similar things for my other district members as well. Kind of going along with this, I decided to study the missionary purpose word by word for my personal study this week after a great lesson from Hno Y about being purpose centered missionaries. I started by looking up the first word "Invite" in the Topical Guide and read from 2 Nephi 26:23-33. This is a great section because it talks about God's purpose, which is to invite EVERYONE to come to him and have happiness and joy and to become like him. It's so great. One of my favorite parts is in verse 27 where it tells us that it is a commandment to invite others to come unto Christ once we have the gospel. These two things in conjunction with each other---inviting everyone one, and inviting being a commandment---made me realize anew what my purpose really is. It doesn't matter if I am inviting non-members, members, missionaries, or even myself to come unto Christ, as long as I am blessing the lives of Heavenly Fathers' children. And, this isn't something we should be doing only for 2 years or 18 months of our lives when we're missionaries. This is a lifestyle we should be living throughout our lives no matter what stage of life we are in. And there are a lot of ways to be doing that. As parents, as Relief Society Presidents, as siblings, as friends. Anything you do to help others change and have more joy is inviting others to come unto Christ. This goes along with my soap box from last semester too. Even if you are in Provo at BYU where everyone is Mormon, YOU CAN STILL BE DOING MISSIONARY WORK!!! All that "missionary work" means, is loving God's children and helping them to be better so that they can live with him again some day. This is a great work we are involved in, and I am so glad to be a part of it, now, and throughout the rest of my life.

My time is up, but I love you all so much! The church is true. The Gospel of Jesus Christ which is centered around his Atonement has the power to change lives. Hna. L and I are happiest when we are teaching because we can see this powerful effect in the lives of our investigators, even though they are fake. Keep up the good work!

Mucho, mucho, amor,


Sunday, February 17, 2013

Signing up by email for blog updates

Some people who who would like to get email updates of Em's blog say they are not getting them. If you are one of these people make sure you have followed the steps bellow.

1.Submit your email in the box to the right.

2.When you sign up to get emails you'll immediately get a pop up with a captcha, or challenge response test to verify that you are human. Type it in and submit the captcha.

3.Check your email inbox. You'll get an email from FeedBurner with a link in it that you'll need to click on to verify that the email address you entered really is yours. If you don't see an email from FeedBurner within a reasonable time period check your spam folder. Clicking on the link in the email from FeedBurner completes the registration.

4. Enjoy! You'll get updates to the blog sent directly to your email.

Friday, February 15, 2013


Emily recommended use of for letters while she's in the Missionary Training Center. For sending letters to a missionary who is in the MTC it is a FREE service. You submit your letter online and they print and deliver the letter to the missionaries' mail box the same day.  They also print out and send letters through the church pouch to missionaries overseas for the same price as a US postage stamp--so, good to know if you are writing any other missionaries out there who are overseas. This is how you do it:

1. Go to
2. Click on "write a letter" on the orange tool bar at the top
3. Select "Provo MTC" from the drop down menu in the "Letter Selection" box.
4. Click on "Write a Missionary"
5. Fill in the required information including your name, address, and email address, and Emily's information:

Hermana Emily Christensen
PO Box 306
TX-SAN 0320  Esimated date to leave: March 20

6. Write your letter, and submit it. That's it! She'll get a printed copy in her mail box  the same day.

Thursday, February 14, 2013


Mi Querida Familia!!

I'm so glad to finally be emailing you all. It sounds like you got my first letter home. Ever since I wrote it, I've been thinking of other things I need to tell you guys. Let's see how much I can remember. In the interst of using all of my 30 minutes to say as much as possible, I'm going to try not to worry to much about structre nor grammar nor typos. So pull out your Rosetta Stone!!

Lets start with my companion. Hermana L is from Ogden Utah. She's really great. We get along super well, and we're helping each other stay healthy. More importantly, we work together really well. After each of our lessons, we talk about how it went, what we did well, what we could do better. She and I have very similar sensibilities about the gospel and how we feel the spirit and stuff, so that's been wonderful. This week, we taught our first investigator, Gabriel. Our first lesson was on Friday (our second full day here) and it had to be all in Spanish. All things considered, it went pretty well. My Spanish was ok, her Spanish was ok, and I think we said everything we needed to because we've figured out how to conjugate about five essential verbs (poder, necessitar, tener, querer, pensar, sentir) and then add whatever else we need to those. As our lessons progressed we learned a lot of really important things. First, nobody tells you this, but the MTC is NOT about learning a language, or even preparing yourself to be a missionary. It's about learning how to invite others to come unto Christ, and in order to do that, you have to be continually coming unto Christ yourself. That's what's hard about the MTC. It's not the Spanish or the Finnish or whatever it is your learning, it's the constant spiritual, mental, and emotional effort of always improving yourself and becoming more like the Savior that is so hard. I was really frustrated the first few days because of the Spanish, but then Sunday came, and I got slammed in the face when I realized that I've got to get over myself and quit worrying about the Spanish. It'll come. What I need to be doing is filling the immense gap between where I am and where I need to be as a representative of Christ. Some other important things we learned . . . At the beginning of the week, Hermana L and I were giving ourselves ulcers trying to prepare our lessons. We were straining to feel the spirit and when we taught Gabriel (our investigator) straining to make him feel the spirit as well. It didn't really work. At the end of our lessons, we always came away disappointed, even when we committed him to prepare for baptism. You know why? Because the spriit can't be forced. After that, we stopped writing our lessons in Spanish so that we could mostly memorize them so that they would be perfect,and we stopped being so spiritually constipated. The message we have to share about the Atonement of Christ and the change it can bring into our lives is incredible!! It brings us so much joy! when we teach people, we shouldn't be giving ourselves ulcers from the seriousness of it. We should relax and remember how happy the gosple makes us, and then focus on how much you love the investigator, and how much Christ loves the investigator, and the rest will take care of itself. We simplified our lessons to teach just the most basic things. We taught Gabriel how to pray, we taught him how to repent, and we did so with a smile on our face, and the Spanish took care of itself. It's been great having Hna. L because we've been able to help each other figure this out together.

A little bit about my district dad, Hna. M is from Washington, Hna. R is from Springville. I really love our district and our zone as well. We all sit together during meals so that we can get to know each other better. One of our Zone leaders is from England, and he is Ferb in the flesh. Sounds just like him, is quiet just like him, but when he says something, it's totally worth hearing. Elder W is great. I also really love the Elders in our group. Our district leader, Elder W, is SOOOO earnest. It makes me laugh sometimes listening to what he says to his companion, just because he's trying so darn hard! And he does it with everything, which is so great! When he exercises in the gym, he kills himself. When he's talking to Elder We, he's always tesifying or encouraging Elder We to let him know how he can improve. It's really great. We have two elders who are 18, and you can totally, tell, but we love them too. It's great having a district because whenever we come back from a lesson and it didn't go so well, there's a whole group there to support you and cheer you up. I wish we were all going to Texas, but I'm sure there are people in Honduras who need them,so it's all good.

A message to Grandpa S, my branch president is President Cameron, who says he knows you. One of his counselors is a Brother Blackham, formerly your Elder Blackham from the Santiago, Chile mission. We figured that out the first night we had a chat, which was really fun.

There are so many other things I could tell you about, I'm not sure what to say first. My Spanish is really coming well. With the benefit of four years of high school Spanish and exposure to almost fluent Spanish most of my life through Mom and all of her Latin friends, I can honestly say without being arrogant, but just as a fact, that my Spanish is really pretty good. What helps me the most is having to speak it every day, which is why the MTC does this thing, which, in Spanish is called HSI (Hablar su idioma). We give ourselves a rating every day of how much of the Spanish we know we have used. We have a zone goal of 8, and honestly, mine is pretty low most days because I am accountable for speaking more Spanish than the others. I have to say though, that the members of our district are doing a fantastic job with their language study. It's so incredible how far they've come. In some ways, having a decent amount of Spanish to start wasn't a blessing all the way around. I had a really hard time being humble and getting over myself the first few days. That was definitely my biggest struggle, and an area where I could still use your continued prayers.

This week, we should start teaching our second investigator. We're going to try to do things differently our second time around. last time, we jumped right into the gospel of Jesus Christ, which was great, but we committed Gabriel to be baptized before he even heard about Joseph Smith, which is totally legal, but somehow seems a little off. We had our last lesson with him yesterday, and we still haven't brought up the Restoration, which is the first lesson in Preach My Gospel. Looking over Lesson 1, we realized that it gives an overview of everything we taught, which would probably have been more appropriate anyway. Next time, we're going to try to focus on the restoration, and let that lead us into other things.

I've been thinking this week about Alan and whether or not he should turn in his papers this summer. I still stick to my opinion that if he wants to go then, he should go BUT, he needs to know up front that most of your time in the MTC is self directed. The majority of our waking hours, we spend in a classroom without a teacher to assign us work, and it's up to each individual how much they accomplish. Alan is capable of doing it, but it'll be a challenge. I just think he should know that up front, because it was different than I was expecting.

Well dear family, my 30 minutes is just about up. I want to add really quickly that in the MTC, Dear Elder is a great way to communicate. They print off the letters every day so that I can have them and read them during the week, and possibly even respond by snail mail depending on how things go. Also, missionaries really do love mail, so don't be afraid to lay it on THICK!!

Mom, I got my Valentine's letter. Thank you! Also, my polka-dot shirt is appropriate. I've asked a bunch of people about it, and they all say it's fine. However, after sitting down all day, my white skirt doesn't cover my knees because it wrinkles and rides up. I might end up sending it back. We'll have to see. Also, I've see a ton of people here that I know, including Quincey, which has been great.

I love you all! The gospel of Jesus Christ is so true, as is his restored church! I am so grateful to be a part of this work. I'm praying for you all!

All my love,

Hermana Christensen

PS, it's amazing how quickly that name begins to feel completely natural.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Feb. 7, 2013

Dear Family,

The MTC is Great! Day 1 was very full but really wonderful. As soon as I got here, got my name tag and dropped off my luggage, it was straight to class where I met the people I'll be spending most of my time with for the next six weeks. There are four sisters in my district: Hermana M (21) Hermana R (19), myself, and my companion, Hermana L (21). I love her! Already we've found a lot in common and although we've only been together less than 24 hours, I can tell we'll work well together.

Hna. L is from Ogden. She's the oldest of I think four kids, and her brother will be joining us in two weeks. He'll also be speaking Spanish, and I want to say he's going to Chile. Before mission Hna. L was at BYU studying Elementary Ed. She took four years of Spanish in high school as well, and also has IBS like me--ha ha!. She's health conscious and likes to run, so we're going to exercise together and help each other eat well which I'm excited for.

All four of us sisters are going to San Antonio. We have six elders in our district as well, all of them going to Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Our two teachers are Brothers P and H, both of which are unfortunately attractive and very nice. They only speak to us in Spanish, but I was very pleased that aside from a few new words and phrases, I understood everything they said on the first day. I'm SO grateful I took Spanish in high school, and I'm really excited to get better at it.

My P-days are going to be on Thursdays, but we don't have one this week because we're doing orientation and stuff. Look for an email next week.

We did this really cool group teaching thing yesterday that I don't have time to explain, but I want to share what I learned:

1. Everybody needs to know first and foremost who God is, what His nature is, and that He loves them.
2.We are here to teach the gospel, not to sell the church or Mormonism.

I have to go but I love you all. The Church is true, but the most important thing is the gospel and how it helps us become more like the Savior.


Hermana Christensen :)

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Open House Sun Feb 3, 2013

With Sid and Pat Bishop
Bill and Mary Ellen Nagel

Thanks to everyone who attended Emily's Open House Sunday and helped make it a special evening. We probably had 60 people here. Emily really enjoyed seeing you all.

With our local missionaries as well as Adam Goff and Clinton Hinkley