Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Super Ocho Sabado

Santa Juana

Hey Fam!

I hope you are all doing well. I am getting better and better every week. This week I thought I would start out telling you a little about Chile. One of the things I like most here is the fruit juice. It is way better than juice in the States. My favorite kinds are orange juice and pineapple juice. It has been kind of fun to explore the different candy bars and stuff like that. Nestle is really big here. They have a candy bar that I really like that isn’t in the States. It’s called a Super 8 bar and it is really similar to a Reese’s Stix in the States. Saturday is the hardest day here, because it is my favorite day back home. To try and fix this, we have started having “Super Ocho Sabado”. Every Saturday night we go and buy a Super 8 bar. The milk here isn’t as good as the stuff back home, but I solved that problem with Nesquik mix. I really like having a glass of chocolate milk in the morning with a bowl of oatmeal or a bowl of granola and yogurt. Quaker Oats are pretty big here so I will usually buy a box of instant oatmeal each week. I really like the ten minutes where I eat breakfast each morning because it is one of the few moments where I can rest. It helped a lot to find good food to eat for breakfast. Those first few weeks I was completely lost and wasn’t eating much outside our meals with members. Breakfast and Dinner are really small here. The biggest meal is lunch. We usually eat lunch with a member around 1:30 each day. Lunch is massive. Usually we eat chicken or beef with a mountain of mashed potatoes. The members are all good cooks, so no complaints! Anyways, that is some good stuff about the food. My favorite snack here is peanut M & Ms. We found a store that sells them. I love them because they remind me of Dad.

Government Housing in Santa Juana
I would love to tell you more but I don’t have a lot of time so I will try to tell you a little bit more about Chile every week.

I am doing much better. The first weeks in the field are really tough. I think if the mission field is the refiner’s fire for life, the first few weeks are the center of the flame where it is white hot. I also think everyone struggles with different challenges those first few weeks. For me, it was missing my family. I have also been humbled a lot. This week I thought a lot about the scripture that says, “I show unto men their weaknesses that I might make them strong unto them”. That scripture has never been truer in my entire life. I have so many weaknesses. As I have looked back over the last 5-6 weeks, I have been amazed to see how much I have changed. I have become a lot stronger and I know the Lord will continue to change me throughout my mission. Change is a process that is long and hard. It is extremely difficult for me. I am grateful that I can have trust in the Lord and know that all these things will eventually be for my good.
We are in a section that is more like apartments right behind the government housing.     
I have been humbled a lot as I have read about the Philippines. I was really touched by the stories about the missionaries as well. I feel foolish to be frustrated with such small things when the people in the Philippines have lost so much. We should never take anything for granted. I don’t know if Thanksgiving was last Thursday or next Thursday, but I hope everyone will take a moment to think about how blessed we are to live where we live and have what we have. I am astounded by how much we have been blessed. Even down to the smallest, simplest things. As I have thought about the Philippines and seen the differences between here and home, I have found a whole new perspective. I feel guilty ever complaining about anything in the past. I am very grateful for my blessings.
This is a picture of our stairs. There is a bad stair right where that overhang is, and I am scared to death I am going to die every time I come down the stairs. These houses aren´t made for tall people. There is a door at the supermarket that I can´t quite get through with my shoulders square. 
I love you all tons and hope you are doing well. I loved hearing from Grandpa Paul these last few weeks. Glad to hear you are already skiing! Love you all tons!

Oh esta todo bien!

Elder William Christensen

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Better Your Attitude, the Better Your Day

The Little Engine that Could

Dear Family,

I am doing better this week. You have probably been waiting a long time to hear me say that. I’m sorry. This week I found that talk by Elder Christofferson, “Give Us this Day our Daily Bread” on the little MP3 player. I was very excited because I hadn’t had time to read the entire talk, only the excerpts you have sent me. This talk is exactly what I needed. I have listened to it twice since I found it. I want to listen to it every morning, and may until I memorize it. Thank you for sharing it with me. It applies to me in so many ways.

So the big accomplishment this week is that I only cried once, maybe twice. I’m growing up. This morning while eating breakfast, ironing, etc. I was thinking about how much I have changed over the last couple of weeks. I have been humbled a lot. I am not quite sure what I expected coming out into the mission field, but I can assure you, it wasn’t this. I think I expected to just have people lining up to be baptized with all the emphasis the Church has been putting on missionary work. I believe the time to hasten the work is now and that the field is white and ready to harvest. What I forgot, and I think what a lot of people forget, is that harvesting a field takes a lot of hard work, it’s difficult. It’s not like the wheat is going to harvest itself. Dad is absolutely right, missionary work is difficult.

Even though it is difficult this week I really felt a difference. I understand the work better now and I feel more comfortable. I love Elder Christofferson’s talk because it applies to me in many ways. Two years is a lot of time, and it seems almost impossible. But we shouldn’t look ahead to the difficulty and pain. Take it one day at a time.

Another part of this talk that I love is the aspect of daily progression. I have so much to learn. I need to learn Spanish and multiple different aspects of the Gospel. I often feel overwhelmed with study. From this talk I have learned that the little parts I study every day will all add up in the end and I will become the missionary that I want to become. I love the idea of going to the Lord each night and going over the day with Him. It is so crucial for me right now. I need to break down what I do well and what I need to fix. I am also grateful because when I got here, I felt like I needed to get 40 people in Church in the first month. Missionary work is a process as well. The work progresses one day at a time and the results add up in the end.

Entonces, I am doing much better. I feel much more content. December is going to be a little rough, but I will take it one day at a time. It is sad because Holidays are so irrelevant here. It was 85 F today and it is supposed to get up to 42 C, which is HOT! 85 F = 29 C más o menos. So it is going to be a Heat Miser Christmas here. I’ve got a nice farmer tan though, so life is good.

The food here is great. It is pretty much the exact same as home, just not as much variety. I eat a lot of chicken and rice. My companion Elder N is awesome. We will always have a mamita here to do laundry for us, which is great because laundry took forever in the MTC. THANK YOU MOM! Thank you for everything. I am learning more and more that attitude is huge. The better your attitude, the better your day. FOCUS ON THE POSITIVE!

Love you all tons! ¡Oh esta todo bien!

Elder Christensen

Monday, November 11, 2013

Roller Coaster

Our Branch President and his wife after the meeting with Elder Holland


We had a very crazy week! It has been a roller coaster. Monday and Tuesday we worked on coming up with ideas to get this place rolling. I really appreciated dad’s counsel, as always. We have been working with the Branch President, who is awesome! He is very excited to work with us. I think we can really pull off something big here. We meet with him on Tuesday to finalize plans and start incorporating members. I am very excited to get this started. The most efficient way for us to work is through members. I hate tracting; too much time and too little result. It’s good to work hard but it is good to work smart as well.

We had a big inter cambio this weekend and I was paired with one of the office missionaries for a day.  He is from Mexico and attended the CCM before it changed over. We did a lot of tracting. I stayed the night in his apartment. He lives with the Assistants. The Assistants and Office Missionaries are all great guys and were really cool to me.

The next night we were back with our regular companions but we stayed at the District Leader’s house to be on time for the conference with Elder Holland in the morning. The District Leader is in one of the more inner city areas, so it was different to see that area, compared to our small country town. Santa Juana is really growing on me. It is a cool little town nestled in hills covered by pine trees on 3 sides and a large river along the 4th side. It is about an hour outside of Concepcion. There is a pretty large logging industry here so you see big logging trucks roll through town. They are kind of cool to see.

I also experienced my first earthquake this week. That was pretty cool. It only lasted a couple seconds, but it was cool to feel the ground shake. It was over before I realized what was going on.

Elder Holland spoke to our Stake yesterday and was outstanding. He talked about building strong families to provide a place where children can build testimony. He emphasized how important it is for each of us to have a testimony.

I love you all so much! You are incredible! I hope all is well at home.


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

"Stop by anytime, if you ever need a glass of milk or anything"

Preparation Day with Zone on the Coast

November 4, 2013

Dear Family,

This is kind of a funny way to write home, but it was the best way I could think of to share as much as possible with you guys. Plus, it can work as my journal entry as well (Will took photos of his journal and e-mailed the photos).

Wow, so much has happened these last two weeks. It has been a little bit of a rough go. Dad wasn’t kidding when he said those first weeks in the mission field were hard.

My first day in Santa Juana I really struggled with some of the temporal things. I am living in a small two-room house. There is barely enough room for me to do push ups. The walls and ceiling are made up of unfinished sheet rock and brick. It is amazing how grateful I am for clean walls and clean carpet now. Only half the lights work here and there are wires poking out everywhere. Not a whole lot works in this house. The bathroom door handle is broken and locks you in if you close the door all the way. The shower is broken as well. We boil water with a jet boil every morning then shower using a bucket and measuring cup. There is no hot water. We have to boil all water. The toilet doesn’t flush unless you open the back and reach in to pull the plug, etc. etc.. I really struggled with the culture shock the first couple of days. Then I realized that that stuff isn’t really all that important.

Although the change has been difficult, we have had some miracles as well. There is a small branch here with about 20 fully active members. The members here are incredible. They are the happiest people I have ever met. We tract and contact all afternoon. I don’t like tracting. You can totally see everybody hiding inside. I feel like nobody likes us. I wish they would just give us a chance. One day after tracting for six hours with pretty much no success we walked up to a house and did the usual routine call over the gate. A guy poked his head out the door and started to open the gate. We were shocked. We had barely said a word and he was coming to let us in. They were a very nice family. We were told that we could stop by any time, if we ever needed a glass of milk or anything like that. The other big miracle happened last night. We had been tracting for several hours. Then we came across someone who had been reading the Book of Mormon and comparing it with the Bible. He wanted to discuss some things and he wanted to come to Church.

It is so beautiful here!

We had the first Baptism in 2 years in this area on Saturday. The Church has ground to build a pretty good-sized chapel here but we need to get new members. Right now we are meeting in a house that has been converted. I had a good idea, with all of the missionaries in the ward maybe you could ask them to not only pray for us, but also for the people we teach as well and that we can find people to teach.

I love you all very much! I know everything will all work out.  My companion Elder N is great. He is very kind and understanding. He works hard as well.

Great news! Elder Holland is speaking in our stake on Sunday. I can’t wait!

 I had a good morning today. We travelled a lot because we got to go play paintball with the zone in some old ruins by the sea side. It was a beautiful day and paintball was a ton of fun. I felt like I was in a video game with the sea and ruins as the backdrop.