Sunday, December 21, 2014

December 10, 2014

So this is a plan that might take a little while to figure out. Allow me to explain. You may or may not be aware that the Mormon Tabernacle Choir is going to be singing in Carnegie Hall next first of July. That is the Wednesday before pageant starts. One of our members (Qi Xiao Dong, he is in the picture below) said that he, for some strange reason he couldn't figure out, bought 8 tickets, when he only has 3 people in his family. When I mentioned that I was planning on coming back to visit during the summer right before pageant, he offered to take our family. The problem is that it is the Wednesday before pageant, so I don't think mom or dad would be able to make it, since you need to be at the pageant on Tuesday for staff meetings if I remember right. Then I realized that one possibility was to come down to the city for the weekend, have mom and dad drive the MotorHome up on Monday or Tuesday as needed, then have the 5 kids (5+3=8) stay, go to the concert, then we ride up with the Buckner family on Wednesday or Thursday depending on the time of the concert. If there isn't room in the Buckner car, we could also either rent a car for a day to drive up ourselves, or pull a car behind the MotorHome on the way out, which provides us with more flexibility once we are at pageant, since we we will still have an actual car. These are just some ideas, but I would really like to go to that concert if possible.

They (the stake) called on the missionaries to usher at the stake Christmas carol concert. It was pretty fun, but we ended up just holding the door to the stairwell open for a lot of the time. We did get to act as elevator servicemen though, just standing in the elevator pushing the up and down buttons a lot.

Elder Perkins of the seventy came to our Ward this last week. It was pretty cool, because he speaks Chinese. Problem was that I was busy helping set up the refreshments for after the combined third hour, so I didn't get to sit in his lesson at all, which was kind of ironic.

Xxx Xxx, our convert back in Feb, got a phone call from his mom the day he quit his job in Rhode Island. He was planning on taking 2 weeks off, and then had a new job set up less than an hour away from the city, in a much nicer restuaraunt. Then his mom called and said he needed to go help in his sister's restuaraunt in South Carolina. So his whole plan he had been working on for 6 months to let him come to church more and get a better job just got destroyed. Now he is in South Carolina working pretty crappy hours, and no chance of coming back up here any time soon. Needless to say, he was upset.

John goes home today. Weird.

They are renting a jumbotron in Times Square for the He is the Gift project non-stop for a month. I think they are stressing that more in our mission than in any other.

That's about it for this week.
Love you lots,
Your son in service,
Elder Christensen

December 3, 2014

I do like the [family] Christmas tree [harvesting] tradition Mom, but you also have to admit that sometimes it was a character building experience.

Thanksgiving was a fun experience, I'm going to assume Ethan sent you the video of the skit that the Elders and some of the members put on to explain the story of thanksgiving. It was sketchy. All the hats were made the night before because the originals were accidentally left at the chapel Wednesday night, and the chapel was closed Thursday, so sister Palmer was up until 4:30 making the hats again. She said at that point she fell asleep on the floor with scissors in her hands, and then had to get up at 6 to start cooking turkeys. Overall turnout was really good though for the party, and we got to take basically a full pumpkin pie home afterwards, along with a huge pot of potatoes and stuffing.

We have gone to bed on time once this last week. The latest we've been up teaching/calling people this last week was 2 in the morning. I was feeling right back at home doing that. My companion....not so much.

Just send a sock for my companion, I don't really want you to send anything for me. Just wrap all my gifts up, and you can leave them under the tree until I get home, and I'll open them then. If the actual tree dies before then, just put them under the fake tree in the living room. 

Recognize these mom? You sent me a box back around April of 2013 that had a bunch of cooking stuff in it. I left them here when I went upstate, and apparently when the elders moved out of 8A for the sisters to move in, they took it with them to apartment 1. I was on a split yesterday with elder Radford in that area, and found it in the back of one of the shelves in the kitchen.

Funny story, some of the sisters were trying to help a girl with her homework, and they didn't know what a Nor-Easter was, so they came and asked me. I answered the question, and then asked how they didn't know what it was, since we got hit by them regularly all last winter. Turned out I was the only missionary here in the Zone that knew what they were. Hurray for being a real New Yorker!

Your son/sibling in service,
Elder Christensen

November 26, 2014

We had a special Sunday this last week, we called it "Come and See!" In Chinese it translated as an open house event. We only had sacrament, and then we had a decent meal after, and a bunch of activities introducing the auxilliary organizations in the church. It was also my first time translating for sacrament. 2 minor mistakes, but for the most part it went pretty smoothly.

Elder Wang gave his farewell talk this Sunday as well, then he got in a van with the office Elders at 4 in the afternoon, and away he went. He's back in California now, but I'm going to stay in touch with him for sure, he'll also probably give the home phone a call at some point so he can arrange to stay a night in my room on his way up to Idaho for school. I told him you wouldn't have a problem with it (if you do, say now or forever hold your peace.....) I'm also going to be sending a box of books and such I don't really need. On the top I'm going to put Elder Wang's bye bye book, because he had to leave it behind so everyone would be able to sign it.

I can't remember if I told you about our new method of contacting that we are working on. School contacting basically means focus on contacting around schools so we can find the parents with kids going to/from school, because if the parents are the ones picking them up, then we know that their jobs are more stable, and the added benefit of a full family unit, instead of random part families/single adults like we have been getting. The hard part is trying to figure out how to do it without feeling like total creepers on the kids. Which is really ironic because we aren't even aiming for the kids, we are going for the parents.

There is a new program starting up called "He is the Gift". Look it up on, it starts this Friday. Really big, and they rented space on YouTube and a Times Square jumbotron. You can look it up on too.  #ShareTheGift

We had an interesting experience with breath spray last night. We were in Elder Leishman and Elder Wangs apartment, and we noticed his old breath spray, so we tested it. Disgusting, turned out he had swapped out the spray with rubbing alcohol so that he could light matches and make a mini firebomb. Rubbing alcohol really does taste gross.

We saw a demonstration against the police last night walking back from zone unity, which was interesting, since it was the first time I had seen an actual protest in the city.

Elder Kuo/Guo has gone to Poughkeepsie for a while, I'm now with Elder Atkinson. He's a really laid back guy, so it should be pretty fun. We are merging two of the areas together as well, which means that we are going to be really busy probably with lessons. President told all the missionaries in my transfer (after the transfer meeting) to get very little sleep, and to work our butts off. So that's what we are going to do. We also got a new sister this transfer, sister Moe from Highland UT. She looks a lot like the oldest daughter from the family at pageant, I think they were the Dodds? They had 2 daughters and a son named Andrew who got called to Russia. I don't remember.

Your son/sibling in service,
Elder Christensen

November 19th, 2014

I'm still on track to finish reading the BoM by Christmas too.

I gave a special zone training on goal setting and planning last week, which was super weird, considering I'm one of the worst planners ever. What was even stranger was that half the zone made comments later that it was one of the most inspired meetings I have held in my now 6 transfers as a district leader. I don't get it, but if they got something out of the meeting, then sweet, the spirit teaches them what they need to learn, and not what I was saying. 

I'll talk with Ethan and president about it [spending time with Ethan over Thanksgiving]. It so happens that the Ward is holding a massive thanksgiving dinner at the 65th street chapel (2 blocks from the Buckner's house) for most of the afternoon on Thanksgiving day. I don't know if he wants to see me, I honestly don't really care too much, since I would be seeing him again in a little over a month at that point anyway.

Our Ward mission leader gave me a few new ideas in contacting that might form into a new contacting style for the Zone. It isn't fully developed yet, so I'll spare you the details, suffice to say that it is much more focused on finding families.

The humidity is quite chilly. Enough said. We did a bit of contacting, but we have also been pretty busy with making preparations for the Thanksgiving dinner. It's going okay though, Preach My Gospel says "Nothing happens in missionary work until you find someone to teach." So when we don't have someone to teach at that moment, we start looking for someone.

I haven't received any flight plans either Mom, like I said, they come when they come. You get the Email before the letter will reach me anyway, so you don't need to ask, since you'll find out before me.

I can't explain that whole issue with the boundary stuff in email mom, it would need several days of typing probably to explain the full thing. I talked with President Morgan for 30 minutes about it, and he lectured the whole zone about it for another hour plus on top of that, so trust me, I'll explain it to you all when I can actually talk, instead of type.

Love you lots,
Your son/sibling in service,
Elder Christensen

November 12, 2014

We had our Zone conference (my last Zone Conference) yesterday. President spent the first 3 hours answering questions he had asked us to email over the previous week, and then we spent the rest of the time making videos to answer the question "Why do you believe in Christ" the only criteria was that it needed to be 5 minutes and have 2 scriptures. It was really fun, but took my group forever to come up with what we wanted to do (no sisters or other creative people in my group) so we ended up only having time to film it through once, but aside from the camera man accidentally covering the mic hole on his iPad with his finger for 30 seconds of the film, it turned out really good. Here's a picture of the Elder's I did it with, none of them are Chinatown elders except for Elder Kuo and I, so I don't really know them at all.

We had a baptism this last Sunday for a 13 year old girl, followed immediately after by us all skyping in for the baptism of Xxxx Xxxx Xx and his Fiancé Xxxx Xxxx, who were taught all the lessons here in Chinatown. The week before their baptisms president Morgan made it extremely clear that anyone who is living in Brooklyn is not allowed to be baptized here, so they had to get passed off to the New York, New York South Missionaries. I'm sure they appreciated it, the two of them are extremely solid new members, and all the missionaries need to do now is make sure that there is a smooth transition to them starting to attend that branch instead (the week they got baptized was the first time they attended a different unit than Chinatown).

The girl on the left is the one who got baptized.

I'll probably send some more stuff later, but this is the main meat of what happened this week. Oh, and sister Xxxx (the Recent Convert) continues to bring the missionaries crab every Monday. I really like it.

Love, your son/sibling in service,
Elder Christensen


November 5, 2014

President visited on Tuesday for our meeting with the Bishop and the Ward Mission Leader. We got some good training, and we have determined that it is completely not allowed for us to baptize anyone who lives in Brooklyn and Flushing, and if we have anyone who lives out of State, we need to transfer their records to the Ward where they live even if there is no capacity for Chinese in that Ward. So that's going to reduce the number of members who have callings in our Ward, since if the records are not here, they can't have a calling here.

If you look up the previous cover photos for LDS Missionaries Facebook page, you will see a cover photo that I really like.

We spent the day with Elder Christensen from the Bronx today. Helped his comp buy a fake Rolex. We had a good time, he seems to be having a good time. He's still in the Bronx.

We had a YSA and SA FHE activity this week, had a decent turnout. Really fun, but playing Mafia in Chinese can be a real interesting experience.

Not much to report for this week.

Your son/sibling in service,
Elder Christensen


October 29, 2014

This crab was given to us by a recent convert. I ate it for dinner on Monday, it was tasty. We also got free sushi from our new Ward mission leader's convenience store/sushi bar for lunch yesterday. Elder Christensen is Happy Elder Christensen when he gets to eat good seafood.

These donuts were made by Sister Palmer. We thought they were pretty funny.

The group of missionaries are the ones who went  to watch Les Mis with Elder Wang and I last week. 

The show was really well done, but the part that had the greatest impact came after the show was done. I have often experienced a period of, for lack of a better term, melancholy at the end of reading a good book through for the first time, or else after watching a play. It has been something that I have been trying to understand for quite a few years actually, and I finally figured it out in the subway on the way back from the play. I think I feel that way because those particular activities give a sense of feeling to the fact that this life is like an explosion of fireworks. A few brief flashes of light, and then before you know it, it is all over. I get somewhat of the same feeling after I go to the temple as well, but a more positive, if still equally contemplative state of being. The difference is that at the play, it displays a persons entire life in the course of an hour or two, showing just how fast it all is, while going to the temple makes me contemplate on the significance of the flash of light that is our life, and how necessary that flash of light is. The entire purpose is for us to develop the correct attributes in order to stand against the night that follows when the fireworks go out. I hope that made sense, these thoughts bring out the (untrained) poet in me.

We passed off Xxx Xxx Xxxx (dude from the north with very thick accent) to Elder Wang ShuangZhe, he's the guy who understands him the most, and we didn't understand enough to have it make sense for us to keep teaching him instead. We've been able to meet with a few new people though over the last few days, so we might see some new stuff coming up soon. I've had to teach a few late night lessons by myself due to Elder Kuo being one of those people who has to get minimum 8 hours sleep or else he might be pretty grumpy the next day. The latest recently was a conversation with a less active member that kept me up till 12:40. I am so grateful that I went through high school with so little sleep, otherwise I would have struggled so much more on my mission. Instead, the days where I only get 6 hours don't bug me at all. P.S., anyone who ever says that as a missionary, the spirit goes to bed at 10:30, is a total liar.

We went to FAO Shwartz for PDay today.

The Ward isn't doing a Halloween activity, but we are going to do a big thanksgiving dinner, which was a big deal last year (I've been told numbers around 300 people and 17 extremely large turkeys for last year's). The reason is because no-one wants to eat Chinese food on Thanksgiving, so all the Chinese restaurants are closed that day, which means that we have a ton of less actives who never show up that will pop out of the woodwork (or at least that seems to be what happened last year, and we are hoping it can happen this year as well.)

I got your Halloween package Mom, thanks for the sauce, I will do my best to use it all before I go home.

Love you all,
Your son/sibling in service,
Elder Christensen