Monday, December 31, 2012

December 31, 2012



I'm totally going to take some photos of me in the shirt holding the
bottle with Africa in the background. They'll put it up on the J-dawgs
wall of awesome places that people have eaten J-dawgs sauce that they
will be making if they haven't done it already. We also went and got
some ice cream, which was good too.

The skyping didn't really make me homesick, don't worry. Although
right when I logged into it, I saw a little pop up thing that told me
my password was successfully changed. So you may want to look into
that and see if my account didn't get hacked. That'd be a little

Here's probably the biggest reason why I didn't get too homesick from
the skype. I forgot all about it about an hour, hour and a half later.
My companion called his family once we got back to the apartment, and
found out that his dad had died that morning. I love Elder Gnahore, he
is way stronger than I think I would be in that situation. He was a
little hard hit that night, but we worked like normal for the rest of
the week. As much as that was possible in the week of Christmas.

Christmas day itself was interesting. We had an appointment in the
morning at a member's house. Turns out he invited some friends and
made some food. So we had to eat an early lunch. Then, we went to an
investigator family's house (more on them later) and we ate again. I
ate so much food that day..... Ooof. So much I got sick. My bad. In my
defense though, it was all extremely delicious, and I had to do it so
that our investigator didn't get upset about the fact that she had
prepared a lot and we weren't eating it. We all have to take hits for
the team sometimes.

Yes we got the faucet in our apartment fixed. So our apartment filter
is back up. No, I don't need a new filter for myself. We still have
low water pressure here, but I'm used to bucket showers by now.

Missionary work has been interesting this week. So many of our
investigators have left on vacation or have had to work to get money
for christmas or have had parties, we have had a lot of dropped
appointments. In a few ways, it has been rather frustrating, but I
also know that we've earned a lot of blessings because we haven't
given up. We do have a couple of investigators that are progressing
really well, like the family that fed us Christmas lunch. That's Anti
with her two sons Steve and Freeman. We haven't had the chance to talk
too much to Freeman, but Steve is really progressing. Sometimes their
mom doesn't understand everything we say because it's all just so
strange to her, but Steve totally understands it and helps us explain.
He even started telling us what strategy we approach when we start
teaching one of his friends. Steve has been my miracle that has kept
me going through these last few weeks, there's been a couple of things
there to get me done, but he's helped me pick myself back up.

This morning I had a new miracle happen. A lot of the missionaries
went to Tokoin to go play soccer. I wasn't too excited, but I knew my
companion loves it so off we went. Most of the Americans decided to
just sit it out and talk to each other, but I gave it a shot. I ended
up being picked last both times teams were picked. Despite all of
that, I still managed to have a good time and just enjoy playing. In
the past I would have felt really awkward about being probably one of
the most unskilled players, but I jsut had fun. And don't worry mom,
when I got tired, I pulled out my camera and started taking pictures.

Okay, I got to go, love you all and happy 2013!!
Elder Christensen

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas Everyone,
Okay, I know that I have to write a bit now before we talk, otherwise
no one who reads the blog will get to know anything.
This week has been a little crazy, like all of the weeks since I've
been here. Harmattan came in this week. There's a pretty constant
breeze coming in, and everything is a little bit dirtier, and everyone
seems to be a little sick around here. Go figure. I remember learning
about the Harmattan during my Geography class first semester at BYU. I
remember distinctively thinking "that's cool, but I'll never see it".
Turns out I was right kind of, it's not something you can see. I was
hoping for a giant dust storm, but it just ends up looking overcast in
the mornings. A little bit of a let down honestly.

My companion couldn't wait for Christmas and opened his stocking. He
loved it, he says thank you. I still haven't opened mine.
Got the birthday package, you guys are awesome.
We had an activity for all of the missionaries this Friday. That was
pretty fun. They made me play the piano, I guess I'm now one of the
best players in Togo. Yikes. At least I got time to practice. I had to
play in church again too, I played almost exactly the same hymns as
last week. Luckily I had practiced angels we have heard on high, so it
sounded a whole lot better this time. Looks like I'll be getting a lot
of practice on the piano from now on. I may even end up teaching
piano. It's looking pretty evident that I'm going to be teaching the
English class now that Elder Burkhart has left. That'll be
interesting. I don't know if I'm qualified to do that. I don't even
understand English.
So this week we had a really cool lesson where we were teaching a mom
and her son. The son was totally getting our message, was getting kind
of excited about it. The mom was just blown away by everything we were
telling her. It was literally one of those "I wasn't expecting to hear
what you are saying, so my brain can't translate it" moments. I still
have those, but not as much as I used to. But the son was totally
helping us explain things, it was cool to hear him explain it all.
They've invited us over for lunch tomorrow, I'm excited.
I got the chance last night to read a bit out of an Ewe bible. It was
pretty cool. The woman told me that she actually understood what I was
saying, which was interesting. Either Ewe is an easier language than I
thought, or they are really good at understanding people who pronounce
it wrong. Either way, I think I'm buying an Ewe bible as my birthday
gift to myself. Apparently they are only about 3700 FCFA so not too
We got to watch the Testaments in French with a recent convert on
Friday, that was interesting. I understood it a lot better than I was
expecting, but it wasn't as cool without the cheesy voices. I'm not
sure if French has cheesy voices or not. If it does I can't recognize
The end of the world was pretty uneventful around here. A few people
were getting anxious, but nothing really happened. I'm just glad it's
all over, I was getting tired of being asked that question.
Celebrated Christmas eve by giving the fridge a really thorough
cleaning and buying some soft serve ice cream. That ice cream was
sooooo good.
Okay, if I think of anything else over the course of the call I'll
write another letter. 
Love you all and merry Christmas!

December 17, 2012

Hello Everyone, 
Working with Elder Gnahore has been pretty good, not had any problems
with him at all. We work together as pretty much equal partners, so it
all turns out okay. I've really learned from him how to make backup
plans in advance. Which has been a really good thing because
appointments have gotten kind of shaky with Christmas coming up.
People have gotten a lot busier around here, we have had so many
appointments fall through this last week. We've even had to go to plan
D a couple of times. The Lord blessed with a mini miracle this week in
that despite all of the fallen appointments and time spent walking
around, we still managed to get a lot of work done this week. We have
met a lot of new people and seen some real power in the work.
Yes, I'm in a branch again. Doumassesse branch has been around for a
little over a year if I understand right. We recently split off a new
branch, Addidogomé, but that split officially goes into place in
January. At that point, our church will start at 1 PM, which'll be
interesting. Yesterday I played the piano, but it didn't go as well as
usual. They didn't actually tell me in advance what hymns I'd be
playing. Turns out it's hard to sight read Angels We Have Heard on
High after a year. Especially when the music is a little bit different
in French. It wasn't too bad over all, but I'll definitely need to ask
in advance next time.
I got the ward newsletter this week, along with all the Christmas
wishes from the ward. Be sure to say thanks to everyone. I can
remember writing those letters a few times, never really grasping the
fact that one day it would be me getting them. Time certainly flies.
This morning we got to hear from Elder Curtis of the 70. It was a
really cool experience. He talked to us about obedience and being
worthy to receive the promptings of the Spirit. I was really motivated
to move forward my efforts to be worthy. Not that I'm bad person, but
we all have things we can do to improve.
This week we met a man named Credo. He actually called us down in the
street. Turns out he was in the US army, and now runs a low
income-development-aid-foundation-thing that brings him back to Togo
sometimes. He was super nice, and turns out he's actually a member of
the church! I wasn't able to figure out if he is active or not in the
states, but it was cool to just have a random run in with a member
like that. I wonder how many random people live here in Togo who were
baptized but don't know that the church is hear. Because that is now
two that I've met in about as many weeks.
Elder and Sister Leavitt came by with their little Christmas gift for
us all, I never thought banana raisin bread and peanut butter cookies
would taste so good!
President Weed decided to catch us all by surprise again. Elder
Burkhart will be going back to Benin this week to be in the mission
office, and Elder Poll will be replacing him. I was super excited to
spend Christmas with Elder Burkhart, oh well. Elder Poll is a good
guy, it'll be interesting to see how the apartment dynamic changes.
The new apartment itself is pretty good. The only real problem with it
is that we don't have any real water pressure. So you know what that
means. Bucket showers. Actually surprisingly refreshing, as it turns
out. Just another week in the life of a missionary. They say we should
be getting a new pump system soon. When we first moved in we had a
little bit of a problem with bats flying in and getting stuck inside,
but we put a couple of screens back up on the windows and the general
smell of people seems to have driven most of them away.
This week I did a lot of personal study about the savior. We were
giving a couple of chapters to study before the conference with Elder
and Sister Curtis, and I took the time to look up a couple of other
chapters too. I really felt strengthened in my testimony. I had a
moment where some of the verses in Isaiah really became personal for
the first time. That's one thing that I have loved about the mission.
A lot of those scriptures that I knew were doctrinally important have
now started to become personally important. I'm happy it's happening,
ideally it really should have happened before the mission.
I have decided that for this new year (or at least the first little
while of it), I'm going to work hard on being more virtuous. I figure
if I set a goal for a Christlike attribute, that will help me
accomplish more. I want to really get a lock down on my thoughts, I
still have times where I just am not there during lessons and whatnot.
I'm going to work on memorizing lots of scriptures and hymns.
Especially in French.
That's super exciting that the family will get to be in pageant again.
I think you are right, that has to be a blessing from having
missionaries out. I know you'll all have a lot of fun. Just don't give
in to the temptation to go see Jacob out in NYC haha.
Haven't seen the women with Christmas trees on their heads, maybe I'm
not in the right area for that. As far as the mom sending out ties, I
know all about that. That was organized for Elder Burkhart. It has
mostly worked, except that most of the people baptized here recently
have been women. I'll see if I can come up with any ideas for service.
As far as a shoulder bag for Jacob goes, I don't have too much to say.
I think he probably needs one since he might not be allowed to have a
backpack. It should have a strap that can be washed, obviously.
Strap ideally is wide for comfort on shoulder. For size, it
should carry his own scriptures (I don't really recommend the quad for
missionaries, I think the Bible and Triple separate are better), some
brochures, a copy or two of the Book of Mormon (maybe one English one
Chinese?) and maybe a water bottle. I don't know if he'll be driving
or walking or biking on his mission. Generally, I'd say a skinny but
long and tall is better than a short fat one. I feel like it's less
likely to be stolen, just looks better. Also should have a handle in
case the strap breaks. The strap broke on mine a couple months ago,
and I've been too lazy to go get it fixed.
Haha, Sister Leavitt told me you emailed her, she mentioned that you
happened to use my first name in saying I needed a new fan. It made me
As far as maintaining weight goes, I'm not actually sure if I'm the
same weight or not. I know that I'm definitely way down on muscle, but
I'm getting a little bit of a gut. Turns out that's a little bit of a
universal phenomenon here. We get belly's, but we can stretch out our
skin just about anywhere else. I'm definitely doing better than some
of the other missionaries though, thank you so much for not raising me
to go out to eat all the time.
My companion wants to know if you got/understood his thank-you email.
Okay, I think I managed to write a lot this week.
 Love you all,
Elder Christensen

Monday, December 10, 2012

December 10, 2012

Hey....... How's it going?
So, Togo is pretty cool. I think for the moment I'm still liking Benin
better, but that's probably just because I haven't had enough time to
build up awesome memories in Togo. That being said, this week was a
good start.
This week we found a white woman while doing door to door. Okay, we
actually knew that she lived there already, but we wanted to see what
would happen. Very interesting experience, she basically just shared
spiritual experiences she's had over the years. It was a really
interesting experience, I could tell that she had a very deep faith.
This Friday we moved apartments. Before we were living on the second
floor of the branch building, but they found us a new apartment so
they could use the old one for church. Turns out my cleaning run last
Monday was not useless but actually a little inspired, we ended up
holding Sunday school on the second floor yesterday, and all those
cobwebs would have definitely detracted from the spirit. The move over
to the new apartment was pretty fun. When we got to the new
apartment, we were super excited to see actual air conditioners in the
bedrooms.... until the Leavitts told us that they had all been "fixed"
so we couldn't use them. They have a point about how it's not fair to
have one apartment have AC, but getting our hopes up like that was
just a little bit cruel. As it is, one of the fans broke in transit
and somehow I'm the one who ended up short. So I've been hot the last
few nights, luckily the window does give a bit of a breeze. After we
finished getting everything inside and the beds set up they took us
out to eat at a pretty decent restaurant. While we were there, we saw
an interesting site. A black woman (normal here) an Asian woman (less
normal, but not unheard of) and a ginger (a first since I've been
here) all walked into the restaurant together. All speaking American
English. I felt like I was in some sort of really corny joke.
Saturday.... Was one of those days you just have to live as a
missionary. With all of the moving and everything, I accidentally got
dehydrated. My bad. I felt pretty sick Saturday morning, to the point
where I threw up. First time on the mission. I had been warned, I just
didn't get enough water in. I pretty much just laid on the floor all
morning. Eventually I did start feeling better though. That's the nice
thing about dehydration, the symptoms don't last too long. Then came
the afternoon. We had a baptism planned, a young man named Romaric who
was all taught and ready to go before I came here. We were supposed to
pick him up at 2 PM to be ready for the baptism at 3 PM at Souza
Netime. At 1:45 we get a call that the fount at Souza is broken and
the baptism has been moved to 2 PM at Tokoin. We ended up getting a
super beat up taxi. When we picked up Romaric, the taxi driver backed
into a pole. Then we needed a push start to get the engine running.
Then we got lost because there are apparently too many Catholic
churches in the Tokoin area, so we ended up on the wrong end of town.
Then the radiator for our taxi broke down and we fled the smoke. We
walked for about 5-10 minutes looking for a new taxi. Found it, and
got to the branch about 2:50. The only reason why we weren't too late
is that the pump was super slow for the fount, they were still waiting
for it to fill when we got there. They ended up baptizing in water
that only reached maybe mid thigh, if that. Water was also not nearly
as clean as it is for baptisms in Benin, now I understand why
missionaries coming out of Togo don't like to actually be the
baptizers. Over all, Saturday was proof that missionary work is the
Lord's work, because way too many things went wrong. There's no good
reason that baptism should have been possible.
So now my story about Ghana. My area goes right up to the border with
Ghana. Romaric literally lives on the last street before the border.
That being said, the border is just a hill and maybe a fence on the
other side. I could get over super easy if I wasn't afraid of African
diseases. Also, I have no good reason to do that.
I had heard a rumor that they are going to split Togo into a new
mission next year. While we were moving the apartment I asked Soeur
Leavitt how accurate the rumor was. She told me that they're looking
for a mission home. So looks like there's a pretty good chance that I
will be finishing in a different mission than the one I started in.
Interesting times. Most of the older Americans are over in Benin now,
so I get the feeling that when they go home all the Americans that
have been here for forever will go over there and I'll be left here
mostly alone. That'll be interesting. Of course, President Weed never
does things the way I think they are going to go. We'll know in 6-7
months I guess.
While we were moving everything out of the apartment, we found a book
about how everything about Christianity comes from Africa. It's not a
very professional book, let me tell you. Very biased.
The last few weeks I've started writing President in French. It was a
little slow and laborious at first, but it's going pretty well now.
I'm finally starting to master all of the accent keys on the French
This last week we got a new American missionary. Elder Woodland from
Idaho. It's been really interesting to see that look of "woah, I'm in
Africa." It's weird being one of the old guys now. I remember how
weird and out of the ordinary everything seemed at first. I hope we
aren't overloading him with information, I'm not sure how much he's
actually picking up yet. He's a good sport about it, he'll be alright.
Found out today that the church just broke 3000 stakes, #3000 being in
Sierra Leone. So close. Elder Holland even came. Well, I guess being
#3002 will be cool too. I believe that the only thing we are waiting
for at this point is the stake center to be finished.
When we moved into the new apartment I set the tree back up and this
time I took out the stockings. Elder Gnahore was quite content with
the fact that he had a stocking too, apparently he's never received
Christmas presents before. He's sending you a thank-you letter.
You sent me the November Ensign right? If so congratulations, because
I don't think I'll ever get it from the mission. The December Liahonas
have already come in for the branch, but we still haven't received
since October in English.
 I got all the sheet music you sent me mom, thank you. It made me happy.
Hoping everything is well back home, I'd love to hear from you all,
Elder Christensen

Sunday, December 9, 2012

December 2, 2012

Howdy all, 
This is Togo reporting in! Togo seems to be a really great
place. I'm excited to be here. I'm in an area full of red sand/dirt,
so it feels kind of like St. George. My companion is cool. I honestly
think he'd be perfectly fine as senior companion himself. He doesn't
really speak English, Ivory Coast doesn't have English. What's really
interesting is that the Malagash that Elder Burkhart is training
actually speaks pretty good English. Did I mention last week that I'm
in an apartment with Elder Burkhart again? That'll make at least 6
months of our missions that we've done in apartments together. We're
pretty good friends by now.
I'm glad to hear about the flash drive getting there, I was a little
worried. You can send it back if you want, I'm not sure if I'll need
it personally, but I can probably give it to one of my companions.
It's a little hard sometimes to find flash drives and memory cards
that are reliable. I'm not sure what would happen if I took a photo
inside of a cyber. I'll try in the next few weeks.
Before coming to Togo I got the ward newsletter for November and I got
Grandma Lundstrom's Christmas letter. That's all I've received for the
moment. Now that I'm no longer in Benin it will probably take me at
least a week or two longer to get mail, with getting it over the
border to the Leavitts and then to the right apartment.
Yes I'm aware of the Leavitt's little cleaning competition. I'm also
aware that I have very little chance of winning it. I was the only
Elder who actually cleaned this morning, and I took out about 300
cobwebs in the process. It doesn't matter too much though, because they
are apparently going to be putting us into a new apartment in 2 weeks.
For the moment we are living above the branch, but the branch has
become big enough that they need the upstairs as well. We're just
waiting for the painting to get done and they will move us over.
Christmas should be fun in a nice new apartment. I was going to wait
to set up the Christmas tree you sent until we got there, but Elder
Burkhart started playing Christmas music on Saturday so the tree had
to go up.
I was looking at the Visa they issued me for Togo. They spelled two of
my three names wrong. Thank heavens there is a 0 % chance they will
ever look at that when I come back to Benin. If it was the US, there's
a chance I would have problems.
This last week I have seen all the Elders from my wave at the MTC, and
the wave behind us. It was really interesting to see what has all
happened to us over the last 8 months. For the moment I'm the only one
that is officially senior companion. Sort of. Two of them are 'equal
companions' so to speak. Lots of them have lost a lot of weight. We
have an new American entering the apartment this week, it'll be
interesting to see his starry eye look that we all had back then.
Elder Cline was transferred over to Benin, so we never got to see each
other throughout the mission. Oh well.
Okay, We're out of time, my bad. The cyber is a little bit slower than
at Fidjrosse, but not too much, at least today. I'll just have to tell
you about seeing Ghana next week!
Love to you all,
Elder Christensen

Monday, November 26, 2012

Novemeber 26, 2012

Thanksgiving was pretty fun, in a fashion. I found some instant mashed
potatoes at the supermarché, and Elder Perkins bought pretty much an
entire chicken. It all tasted good. I was happy with it, even if it
was small. Zone conference was the day before, so we decided to
celebrate by writing some thanksgiving messages and photos to the
Presidents wife. She was actually really happy with it, told us it's
the first present she's received since she arrived here. So that ended
up being mega brownie points for us. Best part is, because she
actually has an oven, that could one day actually be cashed for
brownies. Not likely, but you never know.
So the big news is that I'm being transferred! I'm going to be serving
in Doumassesse. Yes, that's in TOGO. I leave Wednesday. I'll be senior
companions with Elder Gnahore, who is from Cote d'Ivoire. He's been
out for about 6 months I believe. I don't know too much about
Doumassesse, but I'm told that that's the branch where the stake center
is being built. So that will be exciting. I don't think we'll use it
every week, but I'll definitely be there when it's dedicated. I'm
surprised I'm leaving Fidjrosse so fast, 3 months isn't much time at
all in one sector. The interesting thing is that Elder Kiputa is
staying to train an Elder who's coming in from France. He's already
been in the branch for six months. I know it will all work out fine.
The only disappointing thing is that I'm going to Togo for what is
supposed to be the hottest part of the year. So it'll be even hotter
now. Yay. On the other hand, I think I'll be in an apartment with
Elder Burkhart again, which will be fun. What is sure, they say
Doumassesse is full of red dirt, you have to wash your clothes a lot
This week a funny thing happened. It's as though the news about the
Mayan doomsday scenario just barely reached Benin. Multiple people
have asked me about it this last week. I'm pretty sure they don't
believe it any more than we do back in the states, but that means that
some people do believe it. That's me, Elder Christensen, preaching the
gospel and breaking down superstition.
We were teaching this older Catholic man about the restoration and we
mentioned the fact that there is a living prophet on the earth today.
He seemed a taken aback by that. He asked in complete seriousness
"really? Does he talk to the pope?" well, maybe every now and then....
Other funny story, apparently Martin Luther King Junior was a prophet.
He had a dream about a white child and a black child, and somehow or
other Obama is the fulfillment of the prophecy. Go figure. Best part,
we were reading 2 Nephi 3 with a member, and she thought the prophecy
was about MLK. In her defense though, her reading skills are still in
development, and she had been sick for most of the week.
Zone conference was fun, got to talk to a lot of people. You can pick
up some interesting subtexts in what the leaders say. And then
sometimes they aren't so subtle. Turns out there have been a couple of
cases of rule breaking lately, oh well.
I've been wearing the two pairs of shoes, trading them out a little
bit. The problem is that it's the rougher pair that is wearing out.
I'm pretty sure that if I switch just over to the other pair, they
won't last for the rest of the mission. Now that I'm going to Togo,
I'm not sure what it's like to buy shoes over there. I'll let you
I haven't gotten any mail in the last two weeks I would say, but I
know that there's at least one thing for me in the mission office. I
should be getting that tomorrow I think.
I'm pretty sure it's a fact of mission life that the week where you
find a lot of people to start teaching, that's your last week in that
area. We found so many more people this last week that could progress.
Looks like that'll be the job for Elder Kiputa and Méjean. I wish them
good luck. We have no more copies of the Book of Mormon here, and
we're starting to run low on brochures even. The situation is probably
even worse in Doumassesse though. We'll see.
I feel like I haven't written that much again, but I'm out of time.
Power has been out all afternoon, we were lucky our cyber has a
generator. All of our clothes are still wet because the fans aren't
working. Oh yeah, I'm actually packing in advance for this transfer.
Last time I just jammed it all in at the last moment. Took me a month
to find everything.
Love you lots,
Elder Christensen

November 19, 2012

Hello Everyone!
My keyboard is having some problems, so I'm not going to be able to
write too much.
The mission is going, that is sure. We're still teaching a fair bit,
the main problem has been finding people who will progress. There
are so many people that need the gospel here, but don't know it.
Others know it, but can't come and take for various reasons. On the
other hand, we got the news that the search is officially on for a
building for a branch in Aibatin. Of course, that would be a group
first, and that could take months to find a building, but the wheels
are officially moving. Not sure if I'll still be here or not. Not sure
if I want to be or not. I'm told that starting a group is exciting,
but sooooooo much work. Calls for transfers will come this Sunday. Its
pretty much guaranteed that Elder Kiputa and I will be splitting up
somehow. I'd heard a rumor that I would be going into the mission
office, but that appears to be squashed, at least for the moment. I'm
pretty sure I'll become a senior companion next week, but I have no
idea where that will be. We are being told this transfer will be
very big. It has to be, with missionaries going home and 8-9 new
ones coming in. Oh yeah, the work is maybe going to slow down a
whole bunch  this next week. We've run out of copies of the Book of
Mormon to give to people, and some of the brochures too. There's no
way to know when the new books will be coming in. Could be tomorrow,
could be a month. I'm hoping it's closer to the former.
Thank you for the run down of people who got calls, it's always nice
to hear who's going where. Even if I wasn't ever huge friends with
them, it's still nice to know where they'll be when I get back. If you
find out for anyone else, make sure to let me know.
Yesterday we had a conference for the Cotonou district. This time
though, it was just held in one of the branch buildings. It was
packed, and there were no seats left over for the missionaries. So we
didn't really get to hear it, we had to flee outside.
You know, there were days when I thought that my circumstances were
hard, but at least I'm not Elder Ritchie. He's just about to finish
his training time, and he just lost the other American in his
apartment, so now it's just him and 3 Congolais. He wont be speaking
much English for the next 4 months, we'll say that at least. He'll
probably come out speaking pretty decent lingala though. I'm glad I've
never had to do that, but since almost every single apartment in the
mission is down to just 4 missionaries, it's almost certain that at
some point I'll be the only American in my apartment.
 So you want to know how much my taste buds have changed? The last few
days I've been craving beans and eggs. Thinking that means I need more
protein in my diet, but that never would have happened before the
mission. Side note, we've found a source of pretty reliable beef, so
that's started back into the diet a little (it's too expensive to do
too much). You have no idea how good beef tastes until you go about 5
months without.
Not really sure what I'll be doing for thanksgiving, thinking about
making mashed potatoes.
I'm wondering if the debit card popped out of the envelope like sd
cards sometimes do. I sent my usb drive back with Elder Bush, you
should be getting it in the next day or two. Yes I got the emailed
photos without problem. I'd like getting more, at least as long as I'm
using this cyber.
So we've been accidentally tripping the circuit breaker for a while
now, ironing is a problem. They finally sent someone in to look at it,
and they told us our current is just too low. We can only run the iron
and the fans at the same time if we unplug the fridge. All three at
once is just more current than we get. Oh well. At least we aren't
having water or power outages for the moment.
While we were at the district conference we ran into an American
family. He had served his mission in Cote D'Ivoire, and she's doing
something in the region with a Fulbright scholarship. So there you go.
Turns out sometimes you can come back. Don't know if I will be able to
It's funny to hear that it warmed back up back at home, it never even
cooled down here.
I'm starting a project to read all of the standard works in French,
I'm assuming I'll learn a lot of new vocabulary in Deuteronomy and
Leviticus. We'll see, I've already read pretty much the entire Book of
Mormon in French, but not from start to finish.
Sorry, this week's letter was super short, I'll make sure to pick a
different computer next time.
Love you all lots, and I'm thankful for all your letters,
Elder Christensen
No seriously, love you
PS So are you excited to be out of Primary mom? or does it just make
you feel old?

Monday, November 12, 2012

November 12, 2012

Hi Everyone,
Wow, that's a lot of snow. I think we got that much water in rain this
morning, but I wouldn't mind the snow. It hasn't really sunk in how
weird it is that the weather isn't going to cool down. Maybe once it's
Christmas and still 85 degrees I'll get it.
I actually did get a little sick this week. I came down with a 24 hr.
fever, nothing major. Really obnoxious though, we had a couple of
important rendez-vous that day. I'm feeling a lot better now, no
That is so awesome for Jacob. NYC Chinatown. I knew he was going
Chinese speaking, but I wasn't expecting New York. Lucky guy. It'll be
a different mission than mine, that's for sure. He'll do well though,
I have no doubt about it. 2 months isn't much time to prepare though,
have fun!
So funny story about the Christmas package. I noticed a few days ago
that there were bugs going in and out, and I said uh oh, that means
something is open in there. Turns out what happened is something bit
its way in while the box was sitting at the post office. Got into the
sock for my companion and found the lifesavers. The box was bitten
into and 3 of the lifesaver rolls were missing. I didn't have to go
through human customs, but rat customs always takes their fee,
apparently. Nothing else seems to have been touched though, as far as
I could tell. But I had to take out the rest of the life savers and
the candy canes and put them in a plastic baggy.
This week we ate out a lot at members houses. Which means I ate a lot
of spicy food this week. SPICY. I'll leave it at that. Also, one of
the only thinks I can't eat or drink here is the drink they make with
ginger. The kick at the end is way too strong.
This week we had a missionary activity at the branch. One of those
foot in the door, talk a little bit about Joseph Smith kind of things.
Brother Van Duyse (the Canadian) was talking about the build up to
Joseph Smith, he and I got into a tiny debate about some dates in
American history. Silly Canadian man. That activity ended up being
suuuper long. And walking back at the end we got accosted by some
drunk people. That was fun, they thought we were Jehovah's Witnesses
because I'm American, then when they learned we weren't they decided I
was actually Canadian. Because apparently Americans can not be
Jehovahs Witnesses, or something. The whole thing made me laugh.
Investigators are doing pretty well. The work is still going a little
bit slow with all the stuff going on. My companion had to go to a
leadership training meeting, which means that he will either be
training or district leader with this next transfer. He does not want
to train again. Training is hard here, we'll leave it at that. Elder
Kiputa is feeling a bit better, but he's still having problems. Went
back in to the hospital for another check up, apparently the infection
he had a month and a half ago came from his athletes foot we didn't
know he had. Also, he's got some sort of ball forming in his pelvic
region, kind of like the one they cut out of my first companion's
knee. For some reason President keeps giving me the companions with
things in them. None of it is really bad, but I can tell that it all
added together over the weeks is starting to get to him. No one likes
to be sick for a long time.
As far as teaching in church, I haven't had to do it yet. The
missionaries haven't even been giving talks until just recently. There
are enough members that know what they're doing here to get most
things done. Also being Junior companion helps.
Had to go into immigration this morning to renew my visa for the third
time. Cut it close this round, it was going to expire on Wednesday.
I've got that done now.
Tonight all the missionaries are gathering in Gbedjromede to watch
priesthood session. Hard to believe it's been six months already since
the last one. I remember how new everything still was last time.
No, the letter with the debit card still hasn't come. I'm wondering if
maybe it got lost in the mail system? What kind of envelope did you
use? Maybe it's like putting an SD card in a regular envelope.
It's actually just one of my shoes that is starting to wear out a bit.
And looking at that, I don't think it's actually as bad as I first
thought. I'm pretty sure I'll have to get a new pair at some point in
my mission, but that might not be as pressing as I thought it was. I
think I should be able to replace them here, I'll start asking around
about that. If not, I'll let you know.
I'm going to send home the USB drive with my photos with Elder Bush,
he leaves this Friday. That is, assuming he accepts, I haven't
actually talked to him about it yet. I don't imagine he'll refuse
So we showed up late to an eating appointment at a members house, and
when we got there, they had found some church film on tv. Its the one
about the kid who has the modern day Alma the Younger experience. No
idea what it was doing on African TV. The world is a small place
though, media is a powerful tool.
Alright, Love you all,
Elder Christensen

November 5, 2012

Hi everyone,

Wow, that'll be exciting to see where Jacob ends up going, good luck
with the nerves this week! Luckily I've got lots of things to distract

So in good news, I got both the packages this week! Both were unopened
by customs as far as I can tell. Now we will just have to see if I can
resist the temptation of my christmas presents for the next two
months. Hopefully I will be strong enough. The letter with the photos
and debit card are still not there though. So thank you for putting a
few photos in the one package. Its been a long time since I've seen
photos. I'll always accept more.

Speaking of photos, something crazy happened. I was looking at my
photos on my memory card, and I noticed that the number had photos had
changed. Somehow almost 400 photos got erased off of my memory card.
Thank heavens for usb flash drive back up. I still lost about 10-15
photos, butI'm not even sure which photos they were, so I'm assuming
that they can't be that important.

My companion got sick this week. He actually threw up a little on our
way to coordination meeting, and was just generally having a miserable
time. So we went in to get him looked at. I still don't understand
everything, but he had to take 8 pills a day and rub two creams on the
back of his head. And it was a french lady who proscribed it all, so
it's not like it was some crazy voodoo stuff. If I did hear right, he
has an umbilical hernia. Or something. Was not at all aware that that
was possible. But him being sick ran a number on our missionary work
this week. It's hard to plan an illness, but they have to come sooner
or later to everyone. He's already doing a lot better though, and I'm
thinking that this week we should be getting back to normal.

The power went out for a couple of hours tuesday night, all of our
fans stopped working. It was death. Makes me a lot more grateful for
the things that I have.

Halloween was a decent flop this year. I ate some of the candy from
the package, and that was pretty much it. Oh yeah, I also put my jeans
on for about 10 minutes just to wear them. It was weird.

This week what with the end of the month and all, everyone ran out of
money. Everyone but me that is. I don't know why, but I never seem to
use my money as much as everyone else does. So I got to chuckle a
little bit and help out.

I just noticed that one of my shoes is starting to wear out a
little. I'm pretty sure I can make it last for at least 3-4 more
months though, and Elder Sery knows where to buy legit shoes.

Fun story this week. There is an Ivoirienne family that lives in our
apartment building that decided to be good neighbors and give us some
food. What they didn't know was that we had already started preparing
for ourselves. They gave us a lot of food. I ended up eating about
three dinners that night. Everyone else stopped eating. For some
reason, I eat more african food than the Africans. Actually, that's a
pretty commen trend for Americans. I'm guessing it's because we're
used to eating lots of different styles of food.

Could you imagine that the weather is starting to get hotter here?
Crazy, but it's true. At least our water is a little bit more stable
this week.

Missionary work has been a little slow this week thanks to the
sickness. We still have some promising people though. We haven't been
able to talk to Raisa's family yet though. We had a meeting set up,
and we even had a couple ready to go with us, but it ended up not
happening. One of the daughters locked the door and left while the
parents were gone. We've got another rendez-vous set up for Wednsday
though, here's hoping that goes well.

I found out this week that all of the American elders that came in
with me are still junior companions too. I think Presdent Weed wants
to get us as trained as he can as long as there are still older
missionaries. But those start going home next week, so that'll start
changing fast. Who knows what december will bring?

Hmm, I don't feel like I've written very much this week. Weird. Sorry guys.
Oh yeah, we saw conference, or at least two sessions of it. It was
really good, but I'm excited to read it too. I understood a lot more
than I did the first time, but I was still getting tired of
translating it in my head at the end. Plus it's hard to take notes in
English while translating in French.

Alright, got to go,
love you all
Elder Christensen

Monday, October 29, 2012

October 29, 2012

Wow, Halloween already. That's one of the signs I've been here for a long 
Missionary work is going well. We had a number of set backs this last
week, but at the same time, a lot of really promising people are
coming out of the woodwork. I'm excited to see if any of them will
actually progress in the next few weeks. In particular, we've found a
family that seemed pretty interested, and who are already getting all
the stuff together to get legally married. I'm really hopeful for
them, I would love to be able to baptize a whole family. There aren't
enough in the church here, mostly thanks to all of the problems with
Those pictures of people crammed in buses from National Geographic have
already been here kind of. People take big 12 seat vans and cram 20
people in. I've taken those a few times. It's always an interesting
experience. The new bus system is actually not crammed at all. It's
still too new for the most part, people aren't used to taking it. It's
also a little expensive, when a moto can get you sometimes twice as
far for the same price. I'd say that for the most part, I don't
usually feel very third world. But this week, the water has kept
cutting out, which has been rather obnoxious. Also, we had one
occasion where we were walking down a new path and got lost jumping on
tires to stay out of the water. That was rather interesting.
Unfortunately, it is a little far from where we usually work and there
isn't really a good reason for us to go back there anytime soon so I
can take pictures.
I still haven't received the packages, although I heard that that was
being resolved and the mission office would finally be getting them
this week. We'll see. If not, well I guess I'll just have to wait.
It's not like I have much of a choice. I did get the ward news letter
for October, so there is a little bit of movement of mail. On the
other hand, we never got the Liahona in English for October. If its
not one thing, it's another. This mission teaches patience like none
I'm a little bit better at cooking, but not too much. The problem is
that we always eat the same things because they are cheap and easy. On
the other hand, I can eat pretty much anything now. I haven't had to
eat anything too weird in a while, but I'm sure it's only a matter of
time. I've even gotten better at eating the really spicy foods than
some of the African elders. It turns out that really spicy food is
more of a West Africa thing, the Congolais missionaries aren't really
a big fan of it.
There are 4 missionaries in the apartment. It's now to that point in
all of Benin, but Togo still has some 6 person apartments I think. My
apartment is 1 congolais, 1 ivoirien, and 2 Americans. Every apartment
has a fridge (but ours is small) a camping stove, and a rice cooker. I
hear that one of the apartments in Togo paid to have a member make
them a grill, but that's definitely not standard.
This week we saw a huge reorganization of the Branch. The Young Women,
Relief Society, and Elders Quorum presidencies all were changed. And
the Young Men were changed about a month ago. I'm not entirely sure
why, but it's nice to see some of the newer members get the chance to
have some leadership callings. Although to be honest, all of the
members here are new members.
Saturday night we were coming back to the apartment when we ran into a
man who thought we were missionaries for the Jehovah's Witnesses.
That's pretty common actually, but this guy actually was a Jehovah's
witness. He had a whole bunch of their little magazines, and he
insisted that we take them when he found out we weren't. I figured it
was better that we take them than someone else, so I've had the chance
to finally find out a little bit about their beliefs over the last 2
days or so. In some ways, they are so close to the truth. In
others..... I don't even know how they come up with all of those
ideas. That was what sealed the code word of the week. Apostasy.
We were teaching a lesson on Wednesday when this guy walked up and
started listening in. We invited him to sit down and join. That's not
always a good idea. This guy didn't understand at all what our message
was, and got rather angry at us for not giving the usual message that
other missionaries talk about. I've honestly never figured out what
that message is supposed to be. I've generally found that people
joining in on the lesson partway through is kind of iffy. They walk in
without the spirit and have no background for what we are talking
This last week I did a video journal. I thought it went pretty well,
it definitely takes less time. Can't do it for too long though because
of memory space. So we'll see.
This weekend was a big Islamic holiday. Tabaski. The celebration of
Abraham not killing his son. Most people took the whole weekend to
celebrate it. Thankfully it didn't mess up our proselyting too much,
but even a lot of the Christians were using it as an excuse to throw a
party. It's even a day off from school here. That doesn't happen in
Okay, I need to go now, love to you all
Elder Christensen

October 22, 2012

Hi Everyone, 
Wow, sounds like it was a bit of a rough week back home. Sorry guys.
It was a little hard here, but not really more than usual. Just in the
natural course of missionary work and life.
I'm not upset about the fact that you emailed me about Great Grandma.
I agree with your decision. It probably would have scared me to get
that call from the mission office.
Missionary work goes here, but it is a little bit slow for the moment.
It's never a problem finding people to teach, but finding people who
will actually progress is sometimes a little bit harder. Lots of
people like to listen to talk about Jesus, but not everyone likes to
act. I've got some ideas for what we can do this week that will
hopefully help us figure out who will actually progress.
Mosiah is good, but personally I keep getting sucked into 1 Nephi for
the last two weeks. Weird isn't it? That's only the one that I've read
eleventy-seven times. But I'm finding new ideas and new verses. I'm
greatly enjoying it.
I still haven't gotten any mail. I think that the office elders just
aren't going to the post office until they figure out what to do about
customs. Which is frustrating, because I know that there is stuff
there for me. Did you send anything that would conceivably cost
anything at customs? If no, I'll just tell Elder Caycho to go ahead
and pay customs and I'll pay him back. As far as requests for my
birthday.... Not really. Okay, that's not true. Can I get bacon?
So it turns out I lied a little last week. I said that it is
impossible for an American to train another American. Well, after I
was done emailing my companion was still on for a little bit, and it
turns out Elder Terranova will be training an American for the last 5
weeks of his mission. I don't know if that will be a common thing now
or what, there is that. Elder Terranova is the most Africanized of all
of us though.
This week I saw a lot of senior American Citizens. First we saw the
new couple who will be serving in the mission office. Elder and sister
Semken seem to be doing well, things are pretty well established for
them at the bureau. Next there were several older couples at church.
It turns out the church is doing a humanitarian project with
wheelchairs this week. The couples have already visited Ghana, Congo
(RDC) and South Africa this year. That sounds like a great idea for
when I am retired.
The sister missionaries that came into the MTC with me just hit their
halfway point. I've been out for a long time. It'll be weird when they
go home and I'm still here. At least they are all in France and not
here. That would be really weird if they were in the same mission.
This week was the week of the primary program. I don't know if it was
the first one in the history of the branch, but maybe. It made me
really happy. It kind of felt like I was at home again. The level of
singing ability was actually close to the same.
I can't really write this much this week. My keyboard is freaking out,
and I just don't have the spirit at the moment. I hope that things are
going well back in Utah and wherever you happen to be reading this.
Lots of Love,
Elder Christensen
PS, I was actually going to email you some photos today, but I
happened to get the computer that doesn't have USB ports. Looks like
you'll just have to wait until next week. Just like me.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

October 15, 2012

Hello Everyone, 
So I really don't have any idea when the rainy season is here. I had
been told that September was the rainy season and that in October it
would start getting hot, but September was dry and October has been
wet. So yeah. At some point it will get hot, I'm sure.

The work goes here, but this week it was a little slow. We thought we
had a great idea when we arrainged for a lot of our lessons to be at
the branch building. But then several dropped... And it was impossible
to leave, find another lesson, and come back in time for the next
lesson. So we learned a lesson with that. I think had that happened at
the beginning of my mission, I would have freaked out. But I'm
starting to understand now how much the mission is as much about
learning as it is about teaching.

Overall, the branch of Fidjrosse is doing well. So well in fact, that
if I stay here for a while there is a decent chance I will see the
formation of the Aibatin group. That would be very interesting.
Starting a group is a lot of work I hear. I believe that all that is
lacking for us though is maybe another 3-4 priesthood holders and a
building. Not that I'm being kept in the loop though. I know that
having a church building closer to the apartment would make it easier
for investigators to come to church, although it would probably become
more difficult to describe the location, the Fidjrosse building is
conveniently located to describe.

The work progresses here, yesterday we saw the formation of the first
district in Benin. Essentially, that is a stake with just branches
(not wards) and it reports to the misison office still. But it's still
a huge step. I'm thinking they could announce a stake center by the
end of the year. It has definitely been announced that the number of
members in this country has double since the mission president arrived
July last year.

I actually really loved the District meeting because I got to see all
of the people from Gbedjromede again. I got to say hi to a lot of
people. It was really cool to see recent converts and old

No, I still don't have the debit card. I don't think that the office
Elders are going to the post office until they get everything sorted
out with customs. What actually happens is that things show up in the
post office, and then packages have to go to customs (which is right
next door). At least, that's how it worked for Elder Perkins. I assume
that that's because we're private, company stuff would probably just
go straight to customs. Or something. I don't know, I never studied
international mail systems. I could ask the Elders to go and just pay
the customs, the problem is that we have no idea what customs will be.
It could be zero or it could be a lot. I'm not even sure what is
waiting for me in the post, if it's a box or flat rate envelope or
what. I know that if it takes more than a few weeks, I'm just going to
ask them to pay it.

I should hear conference for the first time in early November. That
would match up for last time we did conference at least. That'll be in
French, the translation shouldn't be difficult, I'll just have to pay
attention. For the Ensign/Liahona, I'm thinking end of
November-beginning of december.

Haha, I honestly don't have all that huge of a desire to serve in
Togo, I just want to see it. I love serving in Benin. The people here
are great, and I know where to find just about everything I could
want. I know I'll go to Togo one day, but that will be at least six
weeks. Transfer calls came in last night, and I'm staying here with
Elder Kiputa until at least December. I actually feel like I dodged a
bullet with that one. We had interviews with President Weed this last
week, and he told me something along the lines of "you know how to do
everything now, I could stick you with a new American and you could
show him how to do everything." There is no way I would actually train
an American, but I was giving myself equal odds to actually start
training. But that will wait until at least December. Besides, from
everything I hear, asking President for a transfer is just about the
exact wrong thing to do. I'd probably stay here for another 6 months.

That is really sad about Sis. Wahlstrom. Life is short like that.
Also, I'm already terrified of Motorcycles, that just confirms it. I'm
getting me a nice big safe car when I get back. Although I do
understand why pedestrians are so crazy in Provo. They are all
returned missionaries use to crazy drivers and being protected by the

Don't worry, if I do ever send an SD card home by bubble package, I'll
make sure to copy all of the photos over to the USB drive first. I
wouldn't just mail out 600 photos like that. I do know that regular
letters come through, I think I'll be doing that soon.

Yes, I do have bread and fruits and veggies and stuff like that. I
honestly knew where it all was in Gbedjromede, the problem was that I
didn't really know how to break big bills. I've gotten way better at
that though, so I'm able to buy little stuff a lot more.

This week I realized a little bit just how long I've been gone from
home. I don't honestly know what has changed in most peoples lives. I
know that at least two of my friends have gotten married, but that
number could be as many as 10 for all I know. And I have no idea how
many just decided to serve missions. I guess that's being cut off from
life outside the mission though.

Is the change in ward boundaries going smoothly? I could see there
being problems in a ward that has stayed the same for so long.

I've really started to see some of the changes in myself from being on
the mission. The thing about Christlike vertues is that the day to day
change is almost imperceptible. But after more than 8 months, it adds
up a tiny bit. I've gained a tiny bit of patience and charity since
that first day in the MTC. I've still got so long to go though.

Lots of love,
Elder Christensen

October 8, 2012

Hello Family and Friends,

Well, no week is ever quite like the others. That should be the lesson
I take from Africa.

The big news for this week is that I went in for the Carte de Séjour
(essentially a Green Card from what I understand). Yes, I got a blood
test, that was a little scary. But that I know of, I came through
clean. Which means I don't have AIDS or syphilis, which is good
(<---big understatement). Then this morning we had to be to the
mission office really early so we could go to immigration and actually
apply for the thing. I'm not sure when we'll go back to pick them up,
but I'm thinking about the end of the week. The good news is that with
this we'll be able to get yearlong visas. The bad news is that I'll
probably finish my mission in Benin, so I'll probably need to do it
again. We'll see. Beats going in every three months at least.

Situation on the mail. I know for a fact that there is at least one
thing sitting for me at the post office. But we can't get it because
they are demanding that we route all the packages through customs like
we did before. The problem is, we have no idea how much customs costs
(that depends on the contents of the package). So we aren't getting
any of that until we get that all sorted out. We were actually walking
past a post office when an employee called out to us to ask if Elder
Perkins was in the group because there was a package for him. Elder
Perkins literally saw his package sitting on the counter but couldn't
take it because of the problem. Needless to say, he wasn't exactly
thrilled with that.

Today had a second adventure tacked onto it. After going to
immigration, we walked from the office to the Walmart of Africa. It
wasn't actually a Walmart, but it was the closest thing to it. They
actually take credit cards there. It was almost scary, it felt like
home. I felt a little out of place. I don't know if I'll ever have the
chance to go back, it's pretty far out of the way.

The Van Duyses told me about the change in missionary age, and
President Weed mentioned it again this morning. That's incredible. I'm
pretty sure all of the girls I knew at pageant are calling their
bishops today. I'm pretty sure the Brethren had it all planned out
when they renovated the MTC this last year and opened a new MTC in the
Philippines. That'll be exciting, but personally I'm glad I got to do
a little bit of time in college first. Getting this call back at the
age of 18 would have scared me. Also learning French would have been
harder because I wouldn't have had the Arabic background. So I'm not
really regretful.

Haha, yeah there's no Halloween here. I think the closest equivalent
will be the giant voodoo festival in January, but I think that mostly
involves people in costumes running around hitting other people. Or
something, I haven't exactly figured it out yet. I'll tell you in 4

I'm still taking pictures, but my rate has slowed down a little bit. I'm
going to look into seeing if I can actually send one of my bubble
envelopes by post. If that works you'll be getting photos soon.

Yes, I brush and floss, no worries there. I'm pretty sure I have more
than enough floss for the rest of my mission. And maybe the next year
too. And I'm starting to notice Colgate around, so I'm pretty sure I
won't need more toothpaste.

Oh yeah, we got surprised yesterday. This Sunday, all the branches in
Cotonou are going to be meeting in Cadjehoun for the formation of the
Cotonou District! That came a few months earlier than I was expecting.
The only problem is, no one really seems to know the location of the
meeting. We know the general area of the building, but the precision
is lacking us. The good point though is that the church is growing
here. They could very conceivably announce a stake center for Benin
before I leave the mission. That would be so exciting.

I got to teach the English class this week, that was interesting. It
would have been better, but Elder Barker only asked me to do it about
30 minutes in advance, so I didn't really have any preperation. Or any
idea what he had been teaching. So I kind of just wung it and it
turned out alright. A fair number of people here actually have a
somewhat decent idea of how English works, it's largely just speaking
and vocabulary.

This week was my companion's birthday. I splurged a little bit and
bought some ice cream so we could celebrate. That turned out to be a
little fun. He really enjoyed it because no one likes it when their
birthday is just an ordinary day.

I'm still really jealous of all of you for getting to watch
conference. I heard a rumor though that Togo got to watch it as a
district. If that's true, that means that even if I'm still in Benin
next time, there's a chance I'll see it vaguishly live. That would be

I had a new first two weeks ago that I forgot to tell you all about.
Some one asked me if I was from Madagascar. That one surprised me. I'm
tan, but not that tan. Not really sure why he thought that. Most
people think I'm French or German when they first see me. Go figure.

Cotonou now has a bus system! So that's hopefully going to start
taking some of the motos off the road, make things a little bit safer.
Problem is, they are using Airport buses, the kind with all the space
for carry on bags. So it's not the most efficient seating wise, but at
least it's something official.

Accidentally cut my hair a little bit short. Going to carry groceries
on my head until it grows out again. Yes I have and will take more

Okay, that's all I've got time for at the moment. Cheers!
Elder Christensen

Friday, October 5, 2012

October 1, 2012

Hi Family and Friends,

Sometimes there is a huge gap of information here. Especially with
regards to what happens in Togo. I had heard absolutely nothing
about Elder Harding’s health until I read your email. I have absolutely
no idea what you are talking about.  The only thing any of us have
talked about this last week has been Elder Kola’s plan to buy and butcher
a cow (which he did this morning, apparently).

I don't think anyone had told me that Annie was pregnant again. That's
the story I'm going with anyway, tell her congratulations for me.
I haven't gotten any mail this last week. Elder Caycho told me that
there's something for me at the post office, but apparently customs is
doing something weird for the moment with all of the mission mail. Or
something. I'm hoping to get whatever it is this week, we'll be going
in to do the blood test stuff for the residency cards (on Friday I

Do you know how disappointing it is that I won't be seeing conference
this weekend? We won't see it for at least a month. We have to wait
for the DVDs, and then those have to come to Africa. The good news is
that I might be able to watch them in English. We now have about 6
Ghanains in the branch thanks to the University Frere Bother Van Duyse
started. We'll see. If not, my French is doing well. I'm still left
lacking for words from time to time, but I'm finding that my grammar
is starting to be better than even some of the Africans, Occasionally.
I get the Liahona in English every month, so I'll be able to go back
and read anything I miss. I'm still kind of bummed about missing out
though. That'll be really weird though, that's like the final mark of
spending more than six months in the field. I'll only have two more
left after that.

I'm going to challenge you all to find a question you want an answer
for. Pray about it, and look for the answer in conference. You'll find
it. My regret is that I took conference a little passively in the
past. I didn't use it to its full potential. Also, I read President
Ucthdorf's "Forget-me-not" talk about 6 weeks ago. That was just as
good as everyone ever said.

We had an interesting lesson this last week. We got a contact from the
other companionship, they told us this guy had walked in on one of
their lessons and asked a lot of questions about the book of
Revelations. So we went in and he asked about the sealed book and the
seals and the spirit of Elijah and all kinds of stuff. It was stuff
that we have answers to, but a lot of it can only be talked about once
you have the gospel background, and he didn't want that. So we did a
decent job with that I think. We went a little bit over, were just
wrapping up when his friend walks in. His friend looks at the
Restoration brochure and says 'yeah I talked to you guys once, but I
found some flaws in your doctrines. You know if you read Hebrews
carefully, it says that there is no such thing as the priesthood after
Jesus?" That took forever to sort out. The ways that people can read
the bible are more myriad than the grains of sand on the beach. We've
had to say a number of times "look, we're sorry, but we aren't here
for you to teach us. We've been called by a prophet of God to teach a
message". I've found that bearing testimony in these situations is
really helpful.

We've seen a man's heart softened just the littlest bit this week.
There's a family here who is more faithful in their church attendance
than half the members. They haven't missed in six months. But the
father has been holding back, both himself and from the children being
baptized. But this week he picked up the phone when we called! That
was a first. When we told his wife, she was shocked. It'll come, and
that will be a joyous day.

This week we had to go to immigration. Turns out my companion's visa
expired about two weeks ago. So I've been living with an illegal.

This week it rained a lot. Like a lot. We got turned back from a
couple of lessons because we weren't able get through all the standing
water. Clear-ish standing water is one thing, but that water was as
unclear as you can get. "Are you sure this water is sanitary? It looks
questionable to me" My companion absolutely refused to go through,
apparently he's gotten some nasty rashes by walking through water like

This week we had a lot of mangez-vous. It was all really good tasting.
This morning I saw my trainer when we went to the grand market. He
said, “hey how’s it going? You've gotten fatter.” (note: That's not an
offensive statement in African society. It's just a truthism.) So
apparently I'm looking a little bigger. People here notice weight
changes a lot sooner than I do, both on me and on other people.

Okay got to go, love to you all
Elder Christensen