Monday, December 30, 2013

Hey Everyone!   Just wanted to wish ya a Happy New Year.

I loved Christmas, I was nervous going into it worrying that I would be super homesick but surprisingly it wasn't that bad.  We had christmas breakfast at the bishops house, and got to talk to them / see all of their kids having fun, which was good because they'd been sick.  it was nice to see them happy and running around. We also Skyped Home, which really nice.  I loved seeing the fam and little Tommy and Soren.  who are growing to be not as little anymore.  when I left Tommy couldn't walk!  now he walks!  crazy!  honestly it was great.  It really just made me happy to see you guys and talk like I was home for just an hour.  it was enough.  now I am back at work!

we also got to go to a member's house, the O'Connells for dinner.  they are amazing, because they're this recently converted family who just came in and attacked the gospel.  now the girls in high school are member missionaries and live for their standards and they are so excited to go to lessons with us whenever they can.  they all got BYU Sweatshirts for christmas and all of them want to go to study at the Y.  Brother O'Connell has a calling, and they haven't missed a week of church (barring the last two weeks of blizzards.)   we got to play apples to apples, and they gave us stockings!  they are the nicest family I have ever met.  

some crazy stories: our Investigator who is on date, Sie, has been working so hard to be ready for baptism.  he struggles with a couple of things, one being that his family is not super supportive in that he is trying to quit smoking in a household of unapologetic smokers. we've already had to push his date back twice because he can't quit it.  but he loves the Gospel!  He has fasted twice for strength now, and received spiritual answers, he is excited to join the mission in our challenge to read the book of mormon in the month of january.  he understands the significance of the sacrament and has decided he will wait to partake until he is baptized.  he comes to church every week, and studies like a scholar.  I love him, and his crazy family, and just want them to be the strongest crazy texan-maine mormons there are.  it is bound to happen. I know it, by the things that they say, I just know it.

one of our recent converts Sister Grass is an older woman with the craziest life story I have ever heard.  she could have the coolest Biography I swear.  one time she told us that she is pretty sure when she was born Heavenly Father said to himself, We'll have to watch that one closely, she's trouble.  and she was!  She told of this one time she went swimming in the ocean running past a sign that said the water was infested with sharks.  her Dog had to grab her and drag her out of the water to get her to leave!  Her mother and her had a strained relationship, some crazy stories of knives being pulled and lashings with wooden poles, and her brother defending her life, like all the time.  she says when she would loose her temper in her own household she would throw dishes on the floor, and her daughters would tease her because they had no dishes to eat off of.  her husband she loved, but apparently was a blatant adulterer and she was okay with it?! but the craziest story I think was that shen her father lived down south one night their neighbor who was a surgeon performed a surgery on a black lady that saved her life.  the next night the KKK was on his lawn, and her daughter called sister grass to see out of fright.  she got so mad that she stormed out of the house and confronted them, "This is rediculous!  I will not have you doing this here, Get on out of her Now!" she said one came up to her and said " Now Pat, you should go on home." To which she replied "if that sounds like who I think it is you can bet that we are done.  You are scaring my child, It's time for you to go!"  along with a lot of other stuff. and they actually left!  she said her father was beside himself, like "Pat do you have any idea what could have just happend????" and she was just like "No father, and I don't care to know what people down here do.  they were scaring my child and I will not put up with it." after she gets done telling her stories I just look at her and see a petite polite English woman with a picture of Jesus behind her and I'm like WHAAT??

so fun times.  It just keep snowing here.  I think we're at 4 ft now??  all I know is it is just cold.  cold and snowy and cold and snowing, and the snow is perfect little six pointed stars.  never seen it quite like that before. 

I am greatful for all the gifts and prayers that have been received!  I feel your guys's love, It was great to receive all the cards and notes, it keeps me going!

Today should be like the first real P-day in a long time.  finally I will be able to clean our bathroom, it needs it!  

I am not looking forward to the cold weather that everyone keeps telling us is coming. we're supposed to have negative highs.  NEGATIVE HIGHS.  I think I might die. 

I love you all and wish you the greatest year!  

Sister Christensen

Monday, December 23, 2013

so sometimes when I feel bored I yell the words CHRISTMAS TREE to the tune of jingle bells.  it's entertaining to me and people think I'm weird. win win.

yesterday we had another snow storm.  I think I understand why they call it the great white north.  people keep telling us the projected total snow accumulation is supposed to be something around 300 inches, a record even for here.  that is definitly new. I might go buy some thermals this week. have some pictures of the drive to church.

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that is not fog, it is sleet and snow.

yay.  the hardest part about it actually is just getting out of the parking lot.  that took about twenty minutes of shovel and pushing the car (in both ours and the church's parking lots) ,  but we made it.  

so yeah.  knocking in the cold is fun.  sometimes.  but the nice thing is that either people are super rude and tell us to get lost someplace warm, or they let us right in to warm up! we have had a couple of cool opportunities like that, where they may have felt uncomfortable letting elders in but they see sisters and sit us down and talk about how they've always seen the elders but have been too afraid to really talk to them. we got some good referrals that way too.

in fact we went to go contact one and found out they live in a private residence with a big sign that says no proselyting but they also had this one: 
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and so this ensued:

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highlight of my night.

the good thing is my companion thinks my obsession with cats is hilarious so we joke about it like it's a joke, but secretly I am serious.

one day...  SOON.

anyway, so Christmas.  haven't really thought about it much to tell the truth, at least not the commercial opening gifts Christmas morning part because we don't really get one of those. but I have given a lot of thought to being Charitable and serving others because whether I really want to or not here I am!  doing it.  having fun.  I am excited to deliver christmas cards, and visit members. we don't really get to go out and talk to people on the holdiay, mission policy.  so my christmas eve will probably end up being quite quiet.  which perhaps is best. 

I think my favorite christmas song this year is probably still Hark the herald angels sing.  all time favorites are the best.  

and in all the message of christmas is the message of the Miraculous saving and redeeming power that began on earth as a baby in a manger. From my personal reading this week I really liked how King Benjamin summed it all up, " And moreover, I say unto you, that there shall be no other name given nor means whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through then name of Christ the Lord Omnipotent."  No wonder there was reason for the Heavens to open and Angels rejoice, the great eternal plan of the father was beginning to be fulfilled.  I know that because Christ conquered all we can overcome our difficulties.  that brings me peace.

I love you all and hope you have a Merry Christmas!

Sister Christensen

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Hello from Maine!

guess what?  we got like 20 inches of snow in a 24 hour period.  needless to say it's been pretty crazy.  we actually heard that we were supposed to get the storm starting on Saturday night, so when in the morning nothing had fallen yet we laughed to ourselves and thought that everyone was freaking out about another dud like last week.  we got a few calls in the morning of people telling us the predicted conditions to then say "just so you know, we're not going to make it out to church, so If I were you I'd stay in."  and we were like 'no! the roads are clear there is no reason why we can't go to church.' we got dressed and started driving and the snow started falling.  going up to Caribou was just fine, the wind blew everything off of the road, but as we went through the morning and ward council the snow kept falling, and they decided to shorten church to just sacrament meeting, and then finally just the sacrament and some hymns.  out of our regular attendance of 150 there were about thirty people there, including one of the guys we've been teaching who quit smoking last week.  

after church there was at least six inches on the ground already and we'd only been there for two hours. we went to drive out and found that our rear left tire was at 13 PSI, and thought, we should probably fill that up. (funny story about how that really happened later.)  so we drive to the shell station, and our non-snow tired vehicle struggled the whole way.  filled it up, talked to the guy who worked at shell, and set off thinking, we should probably not go the way with the hill, and instead take the freeway.  every car that passed us left a trail of snow that took our vision out for at least 10 seconds.  We prayed a lot, and ended up making it safely back within 45 minutes on a drive that usually takes 20.  

the rest of the day we worked on some paperwork, and when the snow stopped falling went out to dig people out.  we got to help an older fellow who'd worked really hard to finish the rest of his driveway.  

so yeah.  apparently when it snows here they mean it.  and we have to drive to Fredricton NB today for Zone conference. YAY.  I'm glad I'm not driving. 

Funny tire story:  so we went to go find this lady's house so we could pick up a less active and take her home for our appointment that she somehow apparated away from knowing that we were coming. the house is on this road out in the booneys so we plugged it into the GPS and start out.  we drive for 20 minutes on paved road, another 5 on a dirt road, and then it gets narrower and narrower until it's a one lane drive out into the middle of nowhere.  We trusted the GPS so we kept going, but the road is clearly not one most traveled.  the ruts are deep, and in a few places we scrape bottom trying to follow the tread of the maybe three people who'd driven that way in the last month. eventually it gets so dark, that the thin snow looks untouched, and there are wildlife tracks crossing either way into the black woods on each side.  for some reason it didn't feel like she lived that far out, so we called, and found out that she didn't live that far out and we needed to turn around on a one lane road with bushes and trees hedging on either side.  so I backed my companion up 500 meters to the last fork and we turned around, to make our way back up the steep hills with ruts in them and snow to the wider dirt road where she lived.  all the way praying that our car's all wheel drive would be enough to save us from the bears!  it was during the way back that we heard a loud CLUNK and our tire was flat the next day.  but we got it fixed, and now we are safe to drive to fredricton.

Missionary work!  so it's pretty great, but sometimes it's hard to enter an area where you can just tell that the missionaries before you weren't exactly trying very hard.  our paperwork is terrible, our investigators barely know what the Book of Mormon is and all of the members for some reason think that it is okay for us to be spending more than two hours at an appointment, and/or come over for no reason multiple times a week.  


But it has been really fun to see that as we focus back on the basics, that there is reason to all that we do.  and out of all of that I think the greatest is how important the Book of Mormon is to helping others come closer to Christ.  When people understand that the Book of Mormon stands as another witness to Jesus Christ and testifies of the reality that the Gospel and Church of Jesus Christ was in fact Restored then it brings reason to why we ask people to read it and pray about it.  without that foreknowledge there is little reason for anyone to take us seriously.  but beyond that it is because of the spirit that the Book of Mormon brings to people's lives that helps them to know that there is something different and real about what we come to share.  when we search for truth and ask in faith, we will be rewarded for our effort.  

Jacob taught us specifically about the scriptures, when he was confronted by Sharem. "believest thou the scriptures?" and he said yea."then ye do not understand them; for they truly testify of Christ. Behold, I say unto you that none of the prophets have written, nor prophesied, save they have spoken concerning this Christ.  And this is not all--it has been made manifest unto me, for I have heard and seen; and it also has been made manifest unto me by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore, I know if there should be no atonement made all mankind must be lost."

simply, the scriptures testify of christ, and as we seek to know whether or not they're true the Holy Ghost will testify to us that Christ Lives.

that is something that I know is true, and changes people's lives every day.  have a good week everyone!  

Sister Christensen

    Monday, December 9, 2013

    Hello All!
    So Maine is a fun place.  I actually really like it here.  I don't have any pictures yet but I have a lot of things to talk about so I will do my best to deliver.
    first story was transfers.  so we had like three days and my old companion decided that we had to visit half the cole harbour ward, all of our 8 investigators, go to the temple, re write the area book, clean our appartment and pack in three days.  and apparently she has issues with obsessiveness with her stuff and ended up taking ten hours over those three days to pack, so I ended up doing all of the cleaning and most of the area book work by myself.  plus she kept me up past one both nights and made us late to the mission office on thursday and pretended like she was the only one who had to sign out supplies. needless to say I was ready for eight hours in separate cars.  (we both drove our own vehicles to the new areas.) I am getting over it, but geese, some people.  I still love her.
    we picked up our new companions in Moncton and then parted ways.
    Elder thatcher our vehicle coordinator, gave us a letter to give to the customs people when we crossed the boarder.  that was fun.  they didn't know what to do with us, and we waited for thirty minutes scrambling a little bit because they didn't like the letter and we couldn't get ahold of anybody at the mission office. eventually we found elder thatcher and he talked them through it.  the problem ended up being that the car is licensed and registered in Canada but we're both American, so bringing it across the boarder is technically legal, but it just looks weird.  so fun times.
    funny story.  a guy in the library just called me a nun, and when I told him I was a missionary he started talking about the publicity with FLDS garbage in Texas.  sometimes I hate the news.
    so then there was the time that the ward we were working with hadn't had sister missionaries for more than thirty years.  needless to say they were SUPER EXCITED to see us.  which is good, because we've only been here four days and will have had two member present lessons with people already.  we could have had three but one of our investigators said he was shy so we are waiting to ask him if we could bring someone to his lessons.
    but cool thing!  he started the Stop Smoking program, and has been following it to the letter.  he even used some of the breathing techniques and mouthwash during a distracting and tempting party yesterday.  Sie is super cool, and really ready to listen to and apply the things we talk about, which is really refreshing. 
    the elders we work with have been super helpful, and gave us some maps. 
    one of our investigators gave us a GPS, so that is really cool. we weren't sure if we could take it but he wouldn't take no for an answer so there you go. 
    we went knocking yesterday and found one of the members friends, and a less active member.  out of like 12 people too.  it seems like it's a fairly small community.
    speaking of, it is really beautiful and picturesque here.  so I really like it, It kind of looks like mattawa, but things are closer together and there are more big red barns and trees.  I will have to send pictures.  it is also freezing here.  I don't think it's been above freezing for the four days that I've been here, but from stories I've heard from members and investigators it sounds like it doesn't really get above freezing for the next four months.  and sometimes it gets like 30 below.  so it is solidly cold, and I have no idea how I am going to survive this winter because i am cold all the time, and I wear practically every article of clothing I own.
    fun times.
    the river is frozen.
    I can't remember if there was anything else I wanted to say,
    My address is 555 main street, presque isle ME 04769.  feel free to send me mail.
    I love you all! 
    Sister Christensen