Tuesday, March 27, 2012

March 27, 2012

Hi Everyone,
 Wow, it has been a crazy nine weeks here. It's hard to believe that
tomorrow morning I'll be flying out!
This morning I had to wake up at 3:15 to see off my two companions.
They are probably crossing the border into Canada as I type this. I
know that they are going to be just fine (well, except for the one
that forgot his ministerial certificate, but we're going to mail that
to him).
I'm sure you all are wondering about how nervous I am to leave the
continent the first time. And all the other stuff associated with that
act too. I'm not going to lie, it's a little intimidating to think
about. I have kind of avoided for a while, because I was able to just
pretend I was going to Provo and not worry about it. The last few days
it has really sunk in though, especially yesterday when all of the
Paris and Lyon missionaries left. I really don't know what Africa is
going to be like. I do know that it is going to be hard. It will
easily be the hardest thing I have ever done.
Despite all of my fears, I know everything is going to work out all
right. I know that this is what I'm supposed to do. As I was in the
temple this morning for the last time, I flipped open the Bible to a
random page and started reading. I had opened to 2nd Chronicles
Chapter 15, which I am honestly not sure if I have ever read before.
Verses 2 and 7 really stuck out to me, I can't quote them exactly
right now but they essentially say 'seek the Lord and he will be
there; wherefore, be firm of hand and not weak.' It was a comforting
reminder that I will not be doing this alone, and I can always have
support if I do what I am supposed to do. I decided to read towards
the end of Isaiah also, and I found more scriptures that seemed to
talk specifically about missionary work in the latter days and were
very comforting to me. I can't give exact references, but I think
chapter 61 had some of those. It was a really powerful scripture study
session, it really strengthened my testimony that our Heavenly Father
really does care about us and will help us with even what appears to
be small problems.
On a more temporal note, mail service is apparently not as bad as I
was first led to believe. My Mom (hi Mom!), says that apparently other
moms of missionaries are getting through flat-rate envelopes right
now. I asked my teacher about mail and he said that almost all mail
would eventually get through to him, although sometimes it took a long
time. So feel free to mail me, I should get it sooner or later. My
teacher even said that some missionaries mailed letters out, although
that was a little more risky and he hadn't done it himself.
Our devotional on last Tuesday was Elder Oaks, which was way cool. He
talked to us about having the Holy Ghost as we teach, and especially
how partaking of the sacrament is essential to that. I was greatly
impressed by the fact that he refused to read through the prayers
during his talk, stating that they were "too sacred." It made me
rethink my attitude during the Sacrament.
Every Sunday before a group leaves the French zone here, all of the
departing missionaries sing a French hymn titled "Souvien-Toi." It is
a very spiritual hymn which I enjoy greatly, and I was pleased that I
was able to contribute my talent to play the piano accompaniment for
it. I was even able to sing along, which is something that I've
struggled with with English hymns, so being able to do it with a hymn
I wasn't familiar with in a different language was definitely a tender
mercy of the Lord for me. I went in to being "branch pianist" with a
little bit of a bad attitude. Not really bad, but I wasn't very
excited about it. I really am glad that I did it though, it made me
practice the piano and improve my skill, and now I have the confidence
to contribute that talent in the branches I'll be serving. It would
not surprise me very much if I have to play this Sunday too.
Just in case you all somehow missed the news, General Conference is
this weekend. For all of you at least. We won't be able to watch
conference until we get a dvd of it, which will be in about a month,
apparently. Even then, I'll probably only get to watch 2 sessions. I
have a challenge for everyone who is reading this blog; in the days
leading up to conference, will you pray to receive answers to you
questions through conference. This isn't a general prayer, will you
prayer for answers to specific questions you need to have answered. I
know that if you do that, and then pay close attention to the
addresses given, you will receive inspiration.
Next letter will come courtesy of Africa!
with love,
Elder Ethan Christensen

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