Monday, May 27, 2013

Sunny Day!

Hey All!
I'm sorry the past few weeks I haven't had time to write to individuals, I'll try harder to write fast today so I can get to some of you I haven't written yet.
I am doing great! the sun decided to come out and grace the north Atlantic with it's face, so good times. people here actually do not like the sun, despite the fact that they act happier and hang outside all day if you ask them they'll likely say they prefer the winter and cold. weird right? there's also a ton of dandelions here, apparently when the ships came over from England they brought dandelions to eat because they basically grow everywhere, and now they basically grow everywhere. oops. (invasive species what's that?) here's some pictures. there's also a picture of MUN, the University in our area. and some pictures of clouds. because we're right on the coast, they're huge and move really fast and low, it's kind of like living in a time lapse photo.
so I know there are some of you out there who don't have a crystal clear idea of what Missionaries do, whether we're members of the church or not. I know I didn't realize a lot of things about what we do before I got out here! so I'll take some time to explain in depth the life of a missionary.
we wake up at six thirty (about, anyone who knows me knows that I struggle with mornings.) we then do thirty minutes of physical exercise, and, because you have to stay within sight and sound of your companion, you're suddenly very limited as to what that could possibly entail. due to personal preferences my companion prefers not to run, therefore I usually do things like yoga, sun salutations, some pushups, and unweighted squats and or lunges. and usually not all at once. I'm going to have to ease into this waking up and exercising within five minutes thing.
then we eat breakfast, take showers, and get ready. once we do that we, have an hour of personal study, when we read our scriptures, and study Preach My Gospel, the Church's guide to missionary work, (lovely book guys, I've learned a ton about the simple foundational doctrines from studying chapter three and it's scriptural references) and prepare individually for teaching lessons. this includes taking questions that an investigator might have and studying the scriptures for answers, or reading a section from the scriptures and applying it to yourself/ your investigators. I could really spend about three hours doing this, but after about an hour we switch to companionship study. at that point we share what we learned in personal study and role play lessons and read and discuss together out of preach my gospel, as well. it's fun to share what you thought about a scripture and learn even more from hearing somebody else's insight.
then at eleven we go out proselyting. this is the bulk of our day, when we do anything from service projects to teach lessons, to meeting together with other missionaries in your area for further study and training, to searching for people to teach. mostly searching for people to teach, or at least, that's what we've mostly done so far. and that my friend is when we knock on doors. or talk to people in parks, but mostly knock on doors. I've already had a lot of varying experiences with this, from people who ask for a book of mormon themselves, to people who call us a cult and yell us off their lawns. mostly the reception is somewhere in between, people who have some understanding of god and appreciate our dedication and could potentially enjoy a discussion with us and be uplifted from our message, but are disinterested from the moment they open the door. nice people. I love them. I wish I could spend some time getting to know them. but that's virtually impossible on somebodies doorstep, and you have to respect their agency. with the knowledge they've been given everyone has the right to chose . the best we can do is bear our testimony, and share simple truths, and hope for the best. and then ask for referrals. (referrals are thus, "who do you know who would benefit from a message about Jesus Christ?" usually they say something like everyone could, or that they don't know anybody.)
if you're lucky, you'll find someone who's interested in our message. if you're really lucky they'll be your same gender, or lots of other people home, and have an hour with nothing else to do but have a discussion and talk about their soul and how the restored gospel of Jesus Christ can help them. (There's a rule that you have to have three sisters or elders to teach someone of the opposite gender who's home alone. which so far, is all of our investigators. good times.) otherwise you schedule a time to come back, which fingers crossed is within the next day or two, and that when you get there they're actually home and weren't just being nice.
on that note, we've gotten two new investigators this week, and they're both really cool! one is a student going to the university here, he's a pharmicist getting an additional business degree, and he's from Iran. when we met him he seemed to think that we were missionaries for every church, but over time in our lesson we talked about the book of mormon and our identity clicked. he has a real interest in sharing the things he already knows about God, and asked us for good principle scriptures in the Book of Mormon he could share with the people he meets. his heart is in such a good place, he wants to be the best person he can be, and that charity he has for his fellow man is admirable.
Zhong Wu is another Universtiy student we met at the university. we have a booth that we set up and play mormon messages and give out pass along cards and books of mormon to those who are interested, and he actually came to us, with questions about our fundamental beliefs. He's searcing each denomination right now, trying to find the one that has the most truth, but when we asked if he thought that there was one who contained the full truth of Christ's gospel he said "I don't know if that could be." in our lesson he brought a video produced by a baptist organization about a "discussion" between a Baptist minister and his "scholar" Mormon friend. yep, he brought anti-mormon literature to a lesson. we didn't end up watching it, because as it started I felt the spirit leave. instantly. and so we tried to explain to him that the way to find the truth is by learning of each message, and then asking the lord in prayer what is right. James 1:5. we invited him to learn more of what we had to share, and thankfully he agreed, although whether he'll read the Book of Mormon or not is still yet to be seen, he seemed like he was really interested in hearing our opinions rather than doctrine. sigh. I just hope and pray.
And that's basically it. as missionaries we invite others to come unto Christ, by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and his atonement, Repentance, Baptism, Receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and Enduring to the end. the rest is expounding upon that simple and strengthening phrase.
feel free to write, I always love mail, and have lots of stamps waiting to be used! My new mail address is
1a Chimo Place
Saint Johns NF, A1A 3P7
If you've written a letter to the office address, I may not get it for a while, since it has to travel in a missionaries backpack to Newfoundland, but I will write back as soon as I can!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Hey everyone!
I'm writing from a library in Mount Pearl Newfoundland!  look it up, it's fairly remote.  And not in Halifax.  yeah. 
so first I have to apologise somewhat about my poopypants letter last week, I should have taken time to write separate letters, but the MTC is a confusing place and what can you do.  I'm really thankful and somewhat indignant about all your responses, I hope I'll have enough time today to get back to everyone.
So Newfoundland!  It's actually pronounced new-find-LAND and you'd better say it right or the newfies will look at you weird.  if you're too lazy to look up where it is, it's an island off of Labrador above Nova-Scotia, which is about as big as Washington state.  how'd you get there you ask? well it took a long time, and it's a good story.
I should probably start at the beginning.  so Tuesday, we woke up at the crack of too early for vampires got dressed and drug all of out luggage to the travel office at the MTC.  Which is pretty hard when you have three backs a coat and a purse and no one to help you, I think I dropped the carry on like three times.  my MTC companion sister Lewis wanted to take one last minute to go look for her lost camera twenty minutes before the bus was supposed to leave, so you know me I'm a pushover and we ran to the building we were going to look through.  it was locked.  no surprise.  we ran back.  everyone was loosing their minds because they'd turned in their keycards and the travel guy hadn't given them tickets.  so I go in there and he hands me an envelope with instructions to check in at the keyosk.  not really surprising to me, and I tell the ducklings to get on the bus.
The Bus ride was weird because we were driving on streets and following the same path I had already driven like eight times last semester with no intention of a return trip.  then I fell asleep against the window because it was three thirty in the morning.  at the airport we got out bags and I directed eveyone to the American Airlines counter where I see a familiar sight of lots of people waiting to check in and only two attendants on shift.  it's probably lucky that we even had two that early.  so I start to check us in and there's a bunch of elders listed on our reservation.  "are we supposed to have elders?" I asked the air, since, I wasn't there when the travel guy gave out instructions to the group.  Sister Lewis provided an insightful "I don't know" to which I replied "well, if they're in this airport, we need to find them."  she disapppeared for a little while and then reappeared towards the end of my check in with a Canadian and a weepy elder from Tahiti.  so I had to start over.  then the attendent came by and told me that we all had to check in separately to pay for baggage fees as individuals, so I started over again.  sister weaver was on a separate reservation altogether, and I had her check in beside me at the same time.  so we go through this long process of swiping passports and using credit cards to pay for bags, (haha bring cash for bags my foot)  and then Elder Thounot from Tahiti has to re enter all of his passport information field by field and all of this ended up taking about an hour and forty five minutes.  sometime before everyone was done I started sending sisters to go through security because I knew the line was going to be long.  it was.  needless to say I was praying so hard with a half an hour until boarding and 200 people in front of me at security.  but by some miracle, the lady who was working the front check in was there when we scanned our tickets and got on the plane, and all of us got on. 
the rest of the airports was fairly non-eventful, we rode a train around the terminals to get to the next gate in dallas, and half our group acted like they'd never heard of trams before.  I didn't really get an oppertunity to be a missionary on the flights, either because I wasn't sitting next to anyone, or because the missionary next to me had it covered.  and I also can't hear.  that probably factored into it.  In customs in Toronto we went though smoothly, except my companion somehow got the wrong code on her claims card and the customs lady she got threw a minor fit.  I just stood back and held my hands up because woof.  also poor elder thounot spent probably 30 minutes talking to a guy when for each of us it was closer to five. even sister Echoles, who was deported from canada under suspected tax evasion at 19. (apparently it was not her fault.)  note to self, don't be from tahiti. 
Then we had to check back in somehow, and sister Echoles decided to take over our group and lead us on a goose chase to the terminal check in counters one floor up and half a terminal over with three bags each, to find out that we could have just checked in where we'd been spit out by customs.  le sigh.  and then we called home.  that was fun. and then elder Fortier from Quebec bought us doughnuts.  and then we flew to Halifax, and met out mission president and his wife gave us all hugs, and we rode home in a van driven by a french elder who drove like a maniac.  on the way we found out that it was Elder thounot's birthday.  at which I felt bad that he'd had such a rough birthday.  but at the same time it's a good way to start out your mission.
the mission home was nice.  they fed us, gave us beds, and we had a day to go to the temple and learn mission rules and get bank cards and everything else.  it was also that morning that I found out where I was going.  the interview was simple, basically he told be it would be rough because everyone's either anglican or irish catholic, and that my trainer had only been out three months, just long enough to be trained herself.  so we would be whitewashing an area, and I'd be teaching myself the ropes as much as she'd be teaching me.  good times.  also It would take about 24 hours to get there. 
we drove a truck up through nova scotia to north sydney, which took about five hours.  we were following elders and had a GPS, and she spent most of the time asking questions and asking me to ask her questions.  we got to the ferry two hours early, and I tried to figure out how to make my bank card work, called a number and got no answers.  we tried to talk to a few people, got shut down a bunch, and were shamed by the elders who taught a guy basically the whole first discussion.  good times.  we boarded the ferry at about nine, which was interesting but we did it without backing up more than once, to my relief, and then promptly found our cabin and went to sleep.   I sort of slept.
then we drove for two and a half hours to what I think was corner brook ate lunch breakfast at subway, the guy didn't know what provolone cheese was which was okay because they didn't have any.  my comp paid for lunch because I still thought I had to activate my card somehow and only had American cash.   I also killed a mosquito.  then we called and found out that my card was already activated.  and then we drove for nine hours across swampy pine tree wilderness past moose signs and through rain and fog.  at one point we stopped at a gas station and I tried to buy chocolate to find that my card still didn't work.   I to this moment have no idea if I'll ever be able to buy food.  the story of kelsey in another country without money continues.  and after naps and conference talks and Mormon tabernacle choir we got there at about six thirty in the evening.  
everything since has been trying to follow newfie thought process (they talk a million miles an hour and in a million directions)  and follow my new companion, Sister Miehe (Mia)  with the conviction that I know what i'm doing.  today we're supposed to go knocking on doors, hopefully it'll be better than the first round, as we ran into a catholic lady who basically told us she respects us, but she's too set in her ways and to get off her porch because we were wasting our time.  nice poeople really, very polite, and I'm not being facetious.  I love the people here, and can't wait to find someone who's interested to listen to our message.  in fact the other day during personal study I ran across a scripture that felt like it was meant for me "...Yea, blessed is the name of my God, who has been mindful of this people, who are a branch of the tree of israel, and has been lost in a strange land; yea, I say, blessed be the name of my God, who has been mindful of us wanderers in a strange land." (alma 26:36) I know that he's looking out for us, and that he knows the people of this city and cares for them a great deal.  I'm so glad that I get to be a part of missionary work, that I get to try to share what matters most for them, (and for everyone.) 
sorry I forgot my camera guys, I'll have lots of pictures next time I promise. 
Love you all,

Thursday, May 9, 2013
Kelsey has now been on here mission two weeks.  She flew to Canada on Tuesday.  Karl and I were lucky enough to be home when she called from the Toronto airport.  You can imagine my joy when I saw Toronto on the caller I.D.  We were able to speak only about ten minutes or so, but it was long enough to here how happy she is.  She sounded excited and like she was having the time of her life.  That gave me great peace.

So last night I was up late working on e-mails when an e-mail appeared in my list from her mission president.     So they are fours hours ahead and it was 11pm where I was sitting.  This man must keep crazy hours.  I have attached most of the letter as well as a link to the city where she is now assigned.  It is a beautiful coastal city way out on the edge of Nova Scotia.  I can easily see Kelsey here.

I wanted to send you an e-mail to update you on your daughter's progress so far in the mission field. As you know her group left Salt Lake yesterday morning early and flew all day arriving here in Halifax around eight thirty last night. They were on time and only one bag was lost which is a new record. Delays lately have been up to four to five hours. In any case it had been a long day as they had to get up at around two thirty in the morning to get to the airport. In spite of all that they arrived in good spirits when my assistants Sister Leavitt and I met them at the airport.
After taking pictures and hunting down luggage we took them back to the mission home where they were fed a late night meal of chili, buns and ice cream.  We have a dormitory in the basement of the mission home where we can accommodate up to fourteen missionaries. For the seond time in the history of the mission we had more Sisters than Elders arrive so the the six sisters slept down there and the three French Elders were on the top floor near Sister Leavitt and I. 
In the morning they were up at six thirty to start their day. After breakfast they were interviewed, given their assignments and we then travelled to the Canada Halifax temple for a session.  
In the interview I found out a bit more about your daughter, your family and  her feelings about serving in the Canada Halifax mission. During the interview I explained to  her about the various areas and about how we are organized.  I was able to let her know who her first companion would be and a bit about her first area.
After attending the temple we went to the mission office for the rest of the orientation. After having a hearty supper the new missionaries went out for their first proselyting experience. They are now in bed and tomorrow they will travel early to their new areas and meet their first companion.
Your daughter was assigned to serve with Sister Miehe in St John's Central. Sister Miehe is an outstanding missionary who was carefully selected to be a trainer. Your daughter will benefit greatly from Sister Miehe who is a hard working, obedient and dedicated missionary.
Sister Leavitt and I feel Sister Christensen has come prepared to serve the Lord and we will endeavor to help her have a successful mission and one of the greatest experiences of her life. In the next eighteen months, with the help of your daughter, we look forward to inviting many souls to come unto Christ.
I meet with the missionaries on a frequent basis and receive a detailed letter from them every week. My Assistants, the Zone Leaders, District Leaders and Trainers and Sister Training Leaders all are focused on helping new missionaries make the adjustment to missionary life.
You can do your part by writing to Sister Christensen weekly and encourage her in a positive manner. Detailed updates on sports teams, friends, current affairs or unnecessary detail on problems at home tend to distract the missionaries and often cause a number of problems.
I do my best to communicate with the parents of all the missionaries on a regular basis to keep them informed of the progress of the mission in general. I do this by way of a quarterly update letter sent to you via email. As well, I try to send specific updates as various areas of responsibility change.
I firmly believe the African saying that says "it takes a village to raise a child" and that it applies to missionaries as well. Each of us doing our own part will contribute to the overall success of your daughter's mission.
Please do not hesitate to let me know of any concerns or questions that you might have.
May the Lord bless us all in this sacred and important endeavor.

Brian D. Leavitt
Mission President

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

you didn't send me an email.  or any mail.  that's cool. It isnt like I check the box every day.  I mean, who cares that my companion gets at least three envelopes every day which translates to usually ten envelopes and a package.
I mean, who's counting?
I hope you got my letter.  I don't really remember what I said in it at this point.  it doesn't really matter I guess.  I'm happy, just studying a lot, and woring on becoming a good missionary.  There isn't much to say I guess.  we leave for canada next tuesday, so this is the only Prep day I'll get in the MTC.  kinda weird.  I'll try and convince my comp to go to the gym later, but we'll see if she wants to.  we were going to go yesterday but we ended up waiting for our roomates who took to long getting ready, and I didn't realize you couldn't be late to the gym with free weights.   so instead I threw a basketball at a hoop for fifty minutes.  super great.  I don't think they understand how emotionally attatched I am to gyms. 
So.  what else?  as i said, we leave early tuesday morning, and I get to be the travel leader.  I imagine this will be somewhat like hearding cats.  some of which have never been in an airport, and some of which speak french a whole lot better than english, but with an african accent that I can't understand.  should be fun.  I think the responsibility may be to discourage me from logging into dad's flight benifits and ditching the group.  In reality it just makes me want to do that a whole lot more.
uhhm...  I'm going to try to add some pictures, we'll see how this goes.  This computer doesn't seem to have the option to view them in a folder.  sometimes the MTC is dumb about what they allow with technology.  okay well that's not going to work.
well, I don't know what else to say.  teaching is good I guess.  my companion is getting better at stealing all my tricks and saying them for me.  soon enough I won't have to say anything at all.  I've been working recently on trying to connect with them better, but usually it just ends up being her asking all the questions, and then providing packets of information.  I don't really know what to say about that.  it's hard, because you have to connect to them on a basic level, and bear testimony as you go to invite the spirit somehow not letting it turn into a whole lot of "everythings beautiful and God is love" like I fell most sister missionaries are expected to do.  and it seems like when she's speaking she cares about it, but a lot of the time it's just lecture.  and I don't know how to explain that, or even if it's my place, because half the time I have the same problem.  also TRC terrifies me.  also what does TRC even mean??? does anybody know?

I'm just chillin trying to figure everything out, but it seems like just as soon as I start to it all changes.  we had one schedual where we had like four Gym days, but then they changed it and gave us a different one, and now we only have two.  and weird things keep happening like we'll be studying outside, and then somebody will come grab us and be like "You have class right now! run all over campus and find the rest of your district because your schedule is wrong!"  or like, we had someone tell us we had branch meeting, and we waited for an hour and nobody showed up.  that's been my week, plus a lot of humbling teaching experiences.  but no crying.  I have not cried. so somebody tell the lady it's okay.
okay well, I'm out of time I guess, catch you later.