Monday, December 23, 2013

December 23, 2013

Dear family,
Well, this is the last Africa email. It's pretty crazy. I definitely
haven't wrapped my mind around it. Denial turns out to be a pretty
effective way of making time go by.
I was wondering when I would be released. Sounds good. Wait, I just
reread that. He's going to release me over the phone? That can't be
I got the emails about Jfk and I wrote down the numbers. I think this
should be doable. NYC here I come!
As far as having food in the airport, I'm not sure I'll have a huge
appetit. Maybe just really thick hot cocoa. And Bacon or krispie
cremes. I've been craving breakfast foods lately, maybe we'll stop by
Ihop on the way home? Nah, we are all going to be exhausted. In terms
of meals for the first few days, good meat dishes. Since it's
christmas time, that's more or less a given anyways.
So I heard a rumor that Elder Burkhart's luggage didn't make it back
to Georgia with him. Ouch. For the moment I have a carry on and one
checked bag. I'm thinking about checking the carryon at JFK to just
make going back through security even easier. I'll decide when I am
As far as friday goes, I really don't care what happens as long as a
trip to the temple is included somewhere.
Are you ready for an awesome story? On tuesday we were at a
lesson/become dinner appointment (sometimes people decide they want to
feed us rather than be taught. It happens occaisionally). Anyways, my
companion had a baby of a couple of months on his lap. When the  baby
got passed to me, we noticed that the baby had peed all over my
companion's lap. It looked really funny and the photo is currently
protected on my memory card. The best part? The baby's name is Power
Insondable (all his first name). We usually call him "baby power."
Oh yeah, my other interesting story is about how during a split I was
followed for 30 minutes by a crazy guy that wants me to give him 10
000 000 F CFA (about 20 000 US dollars) so he can fly to London and
play for the Arsenal soccer team. On Sunday he was waiting for us
outside the church, so I told him I've been frauded, lost everything,
and am going to be kicked out of the country this week. Hopefully he
disappears before the new american comes into my area. My current
companion will be spending 2 weeks with an Elder from Ghana, who will
be in turn training an american as my companion goes into the mission
office. Go figure.
Oh yeah, and then there was the next time I was walking on the beach
due to an accident of directions, and a halfnaked guy came out of the
trees and started shouting and walking toward us. We didn't run, but
we were walking as fast as we could in the sand. Given that there was
NO ONE within a kilometer, we figured letting him get close was not a
good idea. We were exhausted by the end, overall we walked about 4
kilometers on the beach. Oof. Then we found an "American University"
that is the reason why there are so many Nigerians in our area. That
was a very interesting day. Keeping it up to the end!
Oh, and then there was the time that someone was flipping through
radio stations and we heard someone say "book of mormon." they went
back to the station, and it turned out to be a "Mormon turned
Catholic" from Ogden calling into a Catholic Radio Station. Go figure,
you can find ANYTHING IN AFRICA!
I'm currently in Mosiah in my reading of the Book of Mormon. I won't
finish before I get home, but if I'm lucky I could finish it before
the end of the year. If I'm not constantly asleep.
It's super weird to be at the end. Everyone keeps saying that I've
finished the mission and I keep telling them "as long as I'm still
here in Africa, it's not over yet! It's just close." I've definitely
had some reflections about how I've changed, how the mission has
changed, and what I was able to accomplish. On my own, I didn't really
do much, but I did get to be an instrument to some pretty cool things.
Love you all, see you soon!
Elder Christensen

December 16, 2013

Dear Family,
Wow,  another week come and gone. I can't believe how fast it is going!

I asked President Weed and he OK'd me seeing Jacob. He even told me I could look up the best place and all that online. I think he's just thankful that I asked. 

This week had a number of firsts. I gave a talk at a baptism service for the first time. I was supposed to play piano, but the power was out so I gave a talk instead. I was all wet while doing it though because we had to fill up the font with well water. But we were using a terrible cord and now I have rope burn on my fingers. 

So I'm going to talk to all the youth? Great, I don't even know most of them any more. I'll do my best. If they really want me to talk about Africa, can they give me a little projector and I could show some of my photos? Maybe that could give some structure to the hour.

In Nigeria they don't speak French, they speak broken English. Really, sometimes it is barely even English, although some are quite good. It's funny how Colonial influences can change the language of people that live across the hill from each other. I still remember my area in Togo that was on the Ghana border. They spoke English over there, but still played the same music on their loudspeakers. 

Elder Burkhart missed his flight in Brussels? That is hilarious. I saw Elder Burkhart at the baptism on Saturday, just a couple of hours before he went home. He was pretty excited. It will be really weird when that day comes for me.....

I finished the New Testament on Saturday, that was really good. I decided I am going to read the Book of Mormon before the end of the year. I will probably finish 1 Nephi tonight. I figure I will be able to read all of Alma while I am on the planes. I'm already seeing a lot of new stuff that I recognise now having "done" a mission. I'm not done yet though!

There's a Tahitian in our area? There is a Tahitian serving in Benin, I'll have him write down a couple of phrases for me the day of the Mission Christmas Party. I'm also going to have my testimony translated into Malagasy.

I had a split with Elder Welch this week so that my companion (our district leader) could go and do a baptismal interview (for Elder Welch and Boto, the zone leaders). It was pretty fun. Elder Welch hasn't taught much in English, so it was funny to watch him throwing in French words. I remember when I was really bad at that too. I still do it a bit though. 

Sunday we had a mini rehearsal with another district to practice for the Christmas devotional. We have to sing Joy to the World. I'm also slated to play the opening and closing hymns for that. Luckily, I finally figured out how to play... ... ... Just forgot the name in English. It's the one with all the Glorias. 

Took my district out to a Vietnamese restaurant for lunch, it was tasty! But not very big portions....

By the way, you have planned that we are going to the temple that Friday right? Because that's what I'm planning. 

Elder Christensen

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

December 9, 2013

No, I cannot believe that it is already the 9th. Everyone always told
me that the last of the mission slows way down. That definitely hasn't
been true for me. It's just flying by. I really am going to miss
Africa. Do you remember how after our first year at pageant, on the
plane all we did was talk about all the things we didn't like? And
when you asked if we wanted to do it again, the answer was a
resounding yes? That's what Africa has kind of been for me. Yes, it
has been a grueling experience, but I've done so much here.
I'm not at all excited to hear the news about the weather. I'm going
to freeze! I'm pretty sure that first day of classes I won't be able
to go to school. Someone asked me the other day if I will want to go
skiing right when I get back. It would be cool,  but I am pretty sure
I would have to amputate a couple of toes afterwards.
I still haven't heard what they want me to talk to the young men
about. Having me talk about the "actual experience" of being a
missionary could be really good or really bad. It would be best to
avoid topics about disobediance.
As far as a dinner, It doesn't make a huge difference to me.
Lets say Sunday? I was actually thinking of maybe for that first
Monday, inviting the Gray family over for family home evening or
something. I'll be bringing home some of his souvenirs and memory
cards, and they might like the chance to chat.
Haha you finally saw my belt? Yeah, I've been wearing the same belt
ever since I left the MTC. I covered the front part with gorilla tape
a while back to make it look a little better, but even that is peeling
now. As far as sizing goes, I'm not sure what to do. As I recall, that
belt was the smallest one we ever found. I've added two holes to it.
I'm not sure, but I think that might mean I'm about a 28.5 waist right
now. So cloth belts or the ones that can run any size are probably
Yeah, I realized a long time ago that I'm not really a good leader.
I'm not really someone that inspires action in others. I am learning a
lot recently though about being charitable and loving people. Wish I
could have learned it at the beginning of the mission, probably
couldn't have though. The New Testament is really cool to study.
Should finish in a few days. I'm wondering if that will be the theme I
will find next time in the book of Mormon too.
By the way, it would be a good idea to contact the Southams about how
to protect souvenirs from the change in humidity and temperature. I
have a recollection that there is a silicon coating that can be put on
wood to keep it from cracking or something like that.
On Saturday we had a hilarious lesson. Everyone fell asleep. at the
beginning, I was kind of nodding off. Then my companion was doing it.
Then the convert (a man in his late 60s) just straight up fell asleep.
At that point, my companion joined him. I just sat there not knowing
what to do. . . . We never said a closing prayer for that lesson. Yay
afternoon siestas!
All the missionaries here are stressing about what they are going to
do for Christmas, which members houses, etc. It's really kind of
funny. I'm just watching and chuckling.
Elder Christensen

December 2, 2013

Hi Everyone,
Yesterday my companion told an investigator that I go home at the end of this month. It was super weird to hear him say that. I still haven't been able to wrap my mind around it. I assume that that is probably a good thing, keeps me from being too distracted.

I'm not too excited to hear about those temperatures back in Utah. It needs to be warm! As it is, I'm going to need a thermos of hot chocolate in the airport.

My head didn't get too sunburned. I found a bottle of sunscreen, and I have been putting it on before I leave the apartment. It seems to have worked pretty well. My hair is probably long enough now that I don't need it any more. It has already grown back a lot. Sister Semken took a picture this afternoon and said she would send it to you. Just know that that is after a full week's growth. I am told it will probably be about a half inch by the time I come home. Not long enough, but not bald either.

Hymn 122, assuming I wrote down the right number, is one of the hymns they play as prelude music to the pageant. That's where I know if from. One of the reasons why I like it so much is that it reminds me of pageant. No worries though, it was just an idle wish. When you know what they want me to do for the Young Men, let me know. If they ask me to teach at the last moment, half of it will come out in French. Praying and teaching in English is hard enough as it is.

This week I had to translate at church for some Nigerians, that is always a little stressful. At least in conferences they give you little breaks so that you can catch up. In lessons, they just keep going! We also sang our first Christmas hymn in sacrament meeting. In other news, I think I finally managed to learn how to play Angels We Have Heard on High. I get the feeling I am going to be ward pianist at some point. Or maybe for the primary. 

This week we had our daily schedule changed. Apparently someone from the church security department called in and said that there is some sort of thing that...... I really have no idea. But now we come in an hour earlier every day and are supposed to do our language study at night. Huh. It means we have to go back out right at the really hot time of day. That has been a little different. At first I honestly thought that the zone leaders were just pulling a prank. Honestly, I don't feel any less safe, it's just that they are taking every precaution.

We had an apartment inspection this week again. I never officially won that. Shame. At least I did my best to clean the apartment every week. Some missionaries only clean before the apartment check (hence the reason for the inspections).

This morning our zone went out to Ouidah again. That's where there is the python temple and the beach they launched the slave ships from. It was fun to go back one last time, I was able to finally negotiate a couple of souvenirs. I still am not all that great at barganing, but I am getting better. Unfortunately, that skill soon won't be able to help me any more. 
Elder Christensen and Elder Gray

Thanksgiving actually turned out pretty well around here. We had a service activity planned that morning. We didn't quite realize how far away it was, though, and ended up accidentally walking across a quarter of the city! Luckily it isn't all that big of a city. We cleaned out a small warehouse for a member who used to run a soda distribution company, it was full of old paperwork and old bottles. And old car pieces. And cockroaches. I think I killed more that 40 cockroaches that day. It was actually a lot of fun. Then as we were walking back we found a really good restaurant that sells good ice cream. So that was our thanksgiving celebration. Then we managed to catch a bus back to the apartment. Overall, it was a good day, but it was really dirty!

I just got a phone call from Sister Weed, looks like we will be singing at the Christmas program after all. That'll be interesting. Last year the results were... ... ... not bad generally. 

Lots of love,
Elder Christensen

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

November 25, 2013

Hello Family!

Well, this week was full of ups and downs. Yay life! Sometimes you feel that things are going good and you are finding people to talk to. And sometimes you cut your fingers twice in a week, or get shocked while trying to fix a cable (in hindsight, should have unplugged the extension cord instead of turning it off).
You know how the saying goes that if you get a bad haircut, you just have to wait two weeks? Yeah..... That's not actually true in all cases. You remember how dad had a little mistake with the clippers a few weeks ago? Yup, had the same thing happen to me this morning. Except it was dead center up top, and I didn't have any size on the clippers. I am officially bald right now. I'm just praying it grows back enough in the next month. Oh, and I'm praying that President Weed doesn't decide to stop by Finagnon for church this Sunday.
This week I got to go on exchange with the zone leaders. It was a lot of fun, even though I didn't ever sleep in a different apartment. It is always fun to spend a day with someone different. That was something I never got to have while I was in the office. 
I mentioned to Dad that staying for that third hour is fine with me. I'm not planning on having any BYU friends coming up since it is the break, and local friends I could just hang out with the next day if I want. I did think about a request for a song. Would there be a way to put Hymn 122 in there (Through Deepening trials)? Most of the extra verses have Restoration themes, and the music is beautiful. Doesn't have to be a special number, it could just be a regular hymn.
Doctors appointments... Yes, there is some sort of parasite/worm killer that they give us right before we go home. They also give us a months worth of malaria medicine. I think a general checkup might be in order at least. The dentist too, obviously. It'll be interesting to see if I have a cavity or not. We actually went to the dentist this week, my companion had a root canal years ago but never had it crowned, and now it is infected again. What I learned from the whole experience is that Fridays at 2 PM is a terrible time to find a taxi, since most taxi drivers are Muslim and are at the mosque. We're looking for a Christian taxi-man before the follow-up appointment. 
You found me an apartment for school? I have a vague idea of where that building is, I think it will be fine. If I'm right, it's about 2 blocks away from J-dawgs, so that'll be cool. 
You know what... I actually never asked president about calling on thanksgiving. In my mind, I just knew that I wouldn't be calling on Christmas, so I forgot about it entirely. For the moment I don't really have any plans for Thanksgiving, but I know a place that sells entire grilled chickens. Elder Gray and I have been joking about joint buying one, maybe we will actually do that. 
I heard that Elder Hawkins is going into the office, I'm sure he'll do a great job. If you didn't know, he comes from the same town as the Nelsons from Pageant (it's a suburb of Philly).
I'm going to make another souvenir-buying trip next Monday. I found out about a place that sells nativity sets, but I haven't seen them so I don't know if they are good or not. I'll check. I'll keep my eyes out for other cool stuff too. I'll probably be pulling more money out for that. Can't remember if I pulled out of debit or credit last time.
So Saturday morning we had an appointment that we had set to be at the church building. We arrive and it is a mess. I got to work and started cleaning, saying to myself that no one showed up to clean that morning. Our appointment never shows up, so I spend about an hour cleaning the sacrament room. When we got back to the apartment, I was told that Finagnon is the only branch in the city that cleans their building Saturday AFTERNOON. Ironically, our  3 PM appointment was also at the church and also fell through, so we got to help clean the rest of the building. In doing so, I accidentally got super dirty trying to sweep some leaves off of the generator room roof, so we had to go back so I could change. It was fun though, I like cleaning projects.
Our area is going a bit better. We have a couple that is progressing really well. The biggest problem is that the wife does not speak French, she actually speaks Goon. This is a Fon-family language from the Porto-Novo region rather than Cotonou, so there are only a handful of members that speak it. For the most part, her husband translates for her, but since he's learning it all for the first time, we actually have no idea if she is hearing it right or not. 
This week I started a goal to finish the new testament before I come home. I'm currently about halfway through Luke, it's going really well. Reading the gospels back to back like that is cool, it helps me see the differences and place the stories better. I should have started earlier so I could do the Book of Mormon one last time too.
Hope everything is going well back home, sounds like it for the most part.

Elder Christensen

November 18, 2013

Dear Family,

You got me an Electric blanket? YES!
I think I may still bring home a couple of pairs of pants or something. I may need some padding for some of the souvenirs. BTW, do I have permission to leave a bag here if I don't need it? In other news, I got one set of clothes made, it works pretty well. I'm going to get the second one made this week. I'm going to ask if the guy can make me a suit vest out of the fabric. That would be cool. 
I'm sad to hear that Elder Quinlan is still sick. I really liked that guy. Hope that things go better soon. 
It's really hard to find flags here. They are pretty much just in Togo. I did see the picture of the Thinker. I know what that is, I think next Monday I'll go out and find a couple of those statues. I still haven't seen any nativities. Maybe because it wasn't Christmas season yet. I'll look next Monday.
I have been taking a couple of pictures of doors for you mom, I'll make sure to snag a couple more before I go home.
Yeah, I understand that aspect of not understanding why things happen the way they do. I struggled with that a couple of times in the mission office when I didn't understand why certain things were happening, and I've even had it a little bit in this new area. The trick is really just to plug on and wait for more light. Not easy.
Christmas wish - a giant box of mini candy canes.
The area here is going pretty well, although a lot of people don't respect the appointments we make with them. We actually have a family we have been teaching. It is a little hard because the wife does not really speak french, but they are doing pretty good. The husband has come to church several times already, and yesterday the whole family was able to come. I like that family a lot. We have a couple of other investigators that are pretty good, but not too many that progress. I was going through our area book, and I realized that only one person was baptized in our area in 2013. It's rough, but we are working on it.
I accidentally left the Jon Schmidt music at the office apartment because I was in a rush. :-(
Hey you know the Stake president of the Chinatown ward right? Maybe he could be at the airport when Elder Gundersen and I are there, and I could pass Jacob's gifts off? And/or a hot dinner could be included? If I don't ask, I know it won't happen.
Elder Christensen

November 11, 2013

Dear Mom (I love you!),
Africa is still just about as crazy as ever. It has been a very
interesting time in Finagnon. It is not a new area, the branch was
created right about the time I got to Africa. But my particular area
was closed for a few weeks and then the new elder got sick, so not
much got done. Things are hard, but not impossible. Something that I
love about the area is that the houses are really cool. The name of
the neighboorhood is "embassy zone", because initially the idea was to
have a bunch of embassies there. Then that didn't work out, but it is
still really cool looking. But Door to Door is a little challenging
because rich houses mean either the person is muslim, not home, or not
interested. We are working on it though and we have a few
investigators. President Weed called us the other day to explain that
we are co-senior companions, but that Elder Lala is district leader.
I'm not fussed about that, but it is still a little weird. President
said that I may be with Elder Lala to the end, he isn't sure yet. I am
not in Elder Gray's apartment, but I am in his zone. He's doing good,
we had a basketball activity this morning. The two Elders in my
apartment are Elder Ritchie and Elder Boto, our zone leaders. Elder
Ritchie is one of the most level missionaries I know, and Elder Boto
and I were in Doumassesse together and I really like him.
Yes I am playing the piano again. Unfortunately, there is ZERO air
circulation where they put the piano. I about melted yesterday. And
then afterward, no less than 6 people walked up and asked me to teach
them piano. I'm sorry, but even if you had a piano at home and you
practiced an hour a day I probably couldn't get you up to simplified
hymns in 6 weeks....
The last few days we have had a giant wedding going on in our street.
Like they put up tents and chairs in the middle of the street. This is
not unusual actually. But the music was loud. It has been a little
hard getting to sleep at night.
This morning I went and bought some fabric so I could get a set or two
of traditional clothes made. I need to do that before the Christmas
I don't think I will be able to get a monkey head (even if I can find
it, I doubt that is allowed through customs.
Oh yes, my tan is coming back very well. I've been out walking a lot
lately, and it has been making a difference. Not that you will see it,
I'll be so covered in coats and blankets.
For my homecoming talk I was thinking about talking about "putting
your confidence in God" or something like that. I think it would be a
good way to approach a faith talk. I was thinking about talking about
consecration, but then I realized that that would be difficult to come
up with good stories about members and what-not. Tell the Wades
congratulations for me, that will be very exciting for them. I'm not
too fussed about a musical number, if the Wades have something they
want to do that is cool.
I got an email from Grandma Christensen this week. I didn't know they
were already great grandparents! That was a shocker for me. One of our
elders lives in the ward over from them, I may bring some souvenirs
home for him (I'm already planning to bring some home for Elder Gray).
Did you ever find me an apartment? And what do you think I really need
to bring back (other than souvenirs)?
Someone in this cyber is playing Windows pinball, and it's making all
sorts of noises. Haha.
I'm in HTML simplified mode, I have no idea if this is a long email or not.
Oh yeah, this morning I found a little tiny Chinese supermarket. I
bought some candy and some beef jerky, it made me think about Jacob
I can't believe how fast time is going! This week is halfway through
November. That is just crazy.
Okay, I think I'm done for the week, I didn't have much time because
the guy in charge of the cyber was gone for like 20 minutes when I
first got here, I couldn't buy any hours until he showed up.
Elder Christensen

Novemeber 4, 2013

Hello Everyone, 
Yep, I'm now in a new area and doing a lot more proselyting.
It's interesting. I've only really worked an afternoon in it so far.
Generally, there are a lot more Nigerians here than I'm used to. I
really don't like teaching Nigerians, it's almost impossible to
integrate them into the branches here and they require someone to
translate for them every week. There are some really nice buildings in
our area as well. I didn't really appreciate nice buildings until
being in the office. Elder Semken and I saw so many buildings that I
started getting a feel for that.

My zone leaders are two of my favorite missionaries. My companion is a
French/Malagach mix who likes to have fun. We still aren't sure who is
senior companion though. One of us is also district leader. I guess
we'll figure that out at some point.
Well, this week I guess I didn't really have much of a "big email."
This cyber is far from my favorite, it's hard to concentrate here.
This week I get to share one of the saddest stories a missionary can
share. On Saturday we baptized a woman from Burkina Faso. Saturday
evening I was transferred. This morning I get a call from my old
companions. The woman did not come to church Sunday morning, and in
the afternoon she called a member to say that she has gone back to
Burkina Faso. I have no idea at all why that happened, but it did. She
wasn't confirmed, and the church does not really have a presence in
Burkina Faso. Probably one of the worst phone calls of my mission.

In other news, the Finagnon apartment has hot water.That was surprising.
Zone conferences were this last week. That was fun.

Honestly, this last week has just been such a giant emotional
rollercoaster. Up, down, and sideways. Wow. But it went fast. I
thought the mission would start slowing down, but it still seems to be
zooming by.
Elder Christensen

Saturday, November 2, 2013

November 2, 2013

Okay, this is a really weird email. As you may have noticed, I am not writing from  my myldsmail account. They are doing some work on the website and took it offline. They figured that no one would be using it on Saturdays ..... Oops. President Weed walked in and I asked him what to do. He said "you have a gmail right? Go ahead and use that." I don't think he would usually say that, but he knows that today is a very important day.
Why is today an important day? I'M GETTING TRANSFERRED. Tonight. This is a long but short story. One of our new missionaries has gotten very sick. He has spent the last 3 days with us here in the office and Elder Mary went out to Finagnon so that they could do some work in his area. Elder Quinlan is an amazing person, and he has handled being sick WAY better than I ever could. For perspective, he hasn't been able to eat anything for two weeks. Anything but water just keeps coming back up. I would have gone insane by this point if I were him. The doctors here can't figure out what is wrong with him, so he is going home tonight to get better care in the United States. Because this means the number of Elders is now even again, someone had to leave the office. We all assumed Elder Mary would just stay there. President informed me during the baptism that I would be transferred out. He told me to start packing my bags. I assumed he was just saying to get ready because he said he hadn't decided exactly where I would go. But he did decide because when we got to the office he said I would be heading out there this evening. We are all kind of shocked. So I'm heading out to Finagnon to serve with Elder Lala Hariniaina for a bit, and then he will probably be transferred and I will stay there. I think. The office will be without an American for the first time in the history of the mission. Weird. I'm kind of happy about leaving, but at the same time, It's weird to have it happen so fast. I'm really kind of disappointed that I won't get to say goodbye to anyone. I'm also kind of confused because I have no idea who is what in this companionship. He was district leader, but I'm about to go home. is he now junior companion? or am I junior? At any rate, the other companionship in the apartment is two of my favorite Elders in the mission, so that will be really fun. 
In other news, We had a baptism service this morning. Habiba has been progressing really well, it was a good service. More of our branch members attended than usual.
We had zone conferences this week. That was a lot of fun. Sometimes the talks tend to be about a lot of the same topics from conference to conference, but they really do help motivate and lift spirits. Plus, it's always fun to talk to everyone. This was my last zone conference, I got to bear my testimony. I remember the testimonies given at my first conference, it was interesting to reflect back on that. I didn't say too much, I kept it pretty short. 
Oh, by the way. Since I'm getting transferred, my p-day is getting changed back to Mondays. I will write again then. But hopefully that time it will be back on myldsmail.
Hmm, I can't remember much else of what happened this week. I'm just floored for the moment. Hopefully I will remember more on Monday.

Okay, love you a lot!
Elder Christensen 

PS Happy Birthday Wes!

A very nice letter and picture from Sister Semken

Hello Sister Christensen, Today, Elder Semken and I had lunch with Elder Christensen and the Akpakpa Apartment, they won the cleanest apartment with the Jericho apartment this month. Elder Christensen was with us to translate for us, when earlier we went and looked at some property in Avotrou. Then we went to lunch. It was really fun to be with these wonderful missionaries. Elder Christensen and Elder Gray (who he knows from High School) had a lot of fun talking. I remembered I took this picture a while a go. They keep dumping sand right in front of President Weed's garage. He has a hard time backing out, so this day the missionaries and the guards went out and moved some of the sand. I just wanted to let you know again what a wonderful missionary Elder Christensen is. He is so responsible and always does the right thing. Elder Semken and I could not do our jobs without him. The time is going so fast for us. We will really miss him when he goes home in December. I was very excited for you and your family that he will be home for Christmas, almost! 
Sister Semken

October 26, 2013

Yes, this week was more African craziness. If there were nothing crazy that happened in a given week... that would actually be the craziest of all.
As far as the ecclesiastical endorsement goes, that actually took me by surprise. I had a roommate my last semester who had just come off of his mission, and I remember he had to take in his honorable release certificate. I assumed that that was the endorsement per se. And yes, it was a good idea not to call the mission office. I'm the one who picks up the phone 75% of the time, so that would have been very awkward. Thank you for all the work you did on that.
As far as my homecoming talk, I can do whenever. I kind of like the idea of getting it done quickly, it would probably be easier on extended family that way. That's my thought, but maybe there are better reasons to to it latter. 
So this last sunday was our District Conference as I mentioned last week. It was a pretty good meeting, I really like being able to see all of the members I know in the other branches. Something that was really cool is that one of my converts in Fidjrosse was sustained for the Melchisedek Priesthood. It caught me a little by surprise (although it really shouldn't have). I was really glad to see that he has been progressing in the church and is still active.
The effects of the District Conference continued to Monday as well. Elder Vinson of the 2nd Quorum of the 70 presided over our conference. Well, Monday morning I was assigned to drive him to the airport due to a long series of events that includes a canceled flight, a visit with one of the city mayors, and the mission president driving to Ghana. Elder Vinson was really nice and easy to get along with. I think that's a requirement to become a general authority. If you didn't know, he is from Australia. He asked where I am from and I said northern Utah. He asked which part and I said Fruit Heights. He said "oh yes, I know Fruit Heights very well". I believe that it was Pres. Jensen  who served in Australia, and got to know Elder Vinson there. He said he knew President Frischknecht as well from being in Salt Lake for church callings. He is the very first Australian I have ever known, and we still know people in common! I seem to know the 1/10 of the church that knows the other 9/10.
As far as transfers go, I have no idea when/where I will go. I think the earliest I could leave would be around the 6th of November. I'm assuming that President would probably give me about a week's notice. I am a little worried though. Every missionary I know of that staid in the office this long finally asked to be transferred. I have this little suspicion that President is waiting for me to do the same thing. The problem is that I promised myself before I left that I would never ask for a transfer. This may turn into a silent and slow game of chicken. Although I'm not at 9 months yet, I'm only at 8 for the moment.  
I think that the envelope you sent me might be lost. We got two envelopes this week from Utah that were sent in mid-October. Oh well, I had to lose one of them over the course of the mission.
Teaching has been a little slow lately due to some added pressures in the mission office, but we are still doing okay. We actually will have a baptism next week. Her name is Habiba, we have been teaching her for about 6 weeks now. A member introduced us to her and has been helping her a lot. She has seen a lot of hard times in her life.
Our mission is just under 110 missionaries for the moment, which is a high for us. It looks like that number will decrease slightly for a while, but from what we are looking at there will be another big wave coming in in April. But it's not really my concern at that point.
I had an idea for what I want to do in my first few days back at home. I want to do a Family Temple Trip. I've never actually been to the temple with the entire family. I think it would be really cool to all go together. It would be even cooler if we could even do work for family names, but I don't know if it would be possible to get enough in time. Could we please plan to have that trip though? Maybe that saturday after I get home.
If there is an opening at "University Park" I think it would be fine. From what you say, it's in a pretty good location. I'm honestly not too picky at the moment, if it has a microwave and hot water it will more high tech than any apartment I've had for the last two years. 

Elder Christensen

October 19, 2013

Dear family,

Well, the second rainy season seems to be just about over. I think it was about the same as last year. Overall it was a pretty dry year though. I may only see rain maybe once or twice for the rest of my stay in Africa. 

By the way, I think I forgot to mention last week that I have another companion. When Elder Razanamparany went home he was replaced by Elder Ouonnebo. He's an Ivoirien Elder who has been out for about 18 months. He's pretty fun, and loves to cook. He actually already served a long time in Gbegamey branch, so he knows a lot of the members already. 

I can tell you that for the moment, Bishop Field and President Frischknecht have not yet received copies of my travel plans. They will receive them next week, but feel free to talk to them about it at church tomorrow. I personally wanted to go through Paris again, but Brussels will be fun too. It will be very weird being in JFK with Jacob so close in Chinatown. Maybe I'll buy him a postcard in the airport. 

Most of my "Africa friends" are either not going to BYU, or come home after me. At this point, I'm not really sure who you should contact. My other old roommate that you could try is Destin . He was fun. This may be a far stretch, but it'd be fun to go back to my old off-campus stake. I was near the southwest corner of the stake I think, so probably stuff around 4th north/4th east, 3 north, 3 east, Given the amount of time you have to find an apartment, that's probably not possible. 

I have been taking pictures mom, don't worry. I probably should be taking some more photos of myself though. I'm not sure how I am supposed to take pictures of "smells" though. 

If you were to send a package right now, I would probably still get it. Personally, I say just hold onto whatever you would send me until I come home. No sense sending me something I will just have to bring back, and if I won't bring it back, no sense having it for only a week. Just keep the tree watered and I'll celebrate Christmas when I come back. I think it would be a good idea to put a little bit more money into my account though, I still have to get a couple more souvenirs. 

This week as you know we got to orient 20 new missionaries. That included our first two Americans to pass through the Ghana MTC. I didn't get much of a chance to talk to one of the Elders, but Elder Sagers spent the night in our apartment and we had a bit of time to talk. It was nice, it sounds like the Ghana MTC is a very different experience than Provo. Hopefully that was the last group I will ever greet in the office. I've had a lot of fun greeting people, but if I'm here for the next group, that means I will be finishing in the office. I've loved serving here, but 10 months would just be too much.

Tomorrow we will have another District Conference. This will be the fourth one in the country, all four of which I have attended (I'm a Benin Missionary, not a Togo Missionary). I'm excited, this one will be presided by Elder Vinson of the second quorum of the 70, who is in our area presidency. I'm interested to see how his translation goes, he apparently has a really good Australian accent, which is practically unheard of here. I hope that we will have a lot of investigators come. The conference room we are renting out is kind-of in our proselyting area. 

We had a great lesson yesterday with the "hakuna matata" family. Rosa has now read almost all of 1st Nephi in the Spanish Book of Mormon you sent with Elder Allred. She's really enjoying it and had a lot of questions. They said that they will come to the conference tomorrow. 

One of my personal study moments this week came from Romans 4:20-21. The thought makes a little more sense in the French translation. We often think that faith is having the conviction that God will do what we want him to do. In reality, faith is believing in the promises that God has given us. We have to believe that God can and will do everything he has said he will do. This is a faith that is not hurt when a Priesthood blessing doesn't lead to a miraculous healing. This is really a faith that enables us to say "thine will be done." I've been learning slowly over the course of my mission many of the promises that God has made to us. Having the faith that he will do his work gives me the strength to go forward. 
Lots of love, 
Elder Christensen

Monday, October 14, 2013

October 12, 2013


Yes, I did get the little package from Elder Allred. The camera works fine and I've already started to take pictures again. Thanks. I also enjoyed seeing Jacob's MTC photos, that was a nice surprise. 

I actually helped Elder Semken write that email, I was the one that was actually at customs trying to deal with the problem. Flat rate envelopes are not treated the same as boxes. Flat rate envelopes, padded envelopes (which sometimes can be very big), and small boxes (smaller than a shoe-box, maybe a little larger than a quad) all go straight through the normal post office. In the 8 months that I have been here, none of those have ever been opened, although one or two were a little ripped. One of our Elders receives a bag like that at least every other week. I think that we will be able to resolve the problem with customs in the next few weeks, but we will see what happens. I am positive that we will be able to get them to back off on taxing candy. I have not yet actually received the package you sent me a while back. 

I'm still in the office for at least two weeks. This week we are welcoming 20 new missionaries, and the next week President will be in Ghana for a mission president seminar. After that, who knows. Elder Mary is still having problems getting his residence card, if he doesn't have it in a month he will have to go to Togo. I'm not sure what that would mean for me. I do still think that I will open up that new apartment/group, which would be a lot of fun. A lot of work too. I did find out that for a while President was planning on sending me back to Togo to train. But then he decided to keep me here a little longer. I'm glad that I didn't know that until after the fact. You do know that you've been in the office for a long time when missionaries that you welcomed in the office their first day are now senior companions. 

I didn't get to see any of conference yet, but I have been able to read several of the talks on From what I have read, it seems to have been a stellar conference. An interesting trend I've noticed is that conference is getting more about missionary work. I still remember that the first conference of my mission, for every single talk I saw I wrote "about family, read again after mission." 

Woah, what? Davis cup is this week? That's crazy. It can't already be that time of the year. 

This last week we got to go with the Gbedjromede zone out to Ganvié. If you remember I went there when I was about 3 months in Africa, it's the city on the lake. It's known as the "Venice of Africa." This time it wasn't nearly as fun though. No clouds made it hot, we spent a lot more time in the water traveling because we changed our launch point, and we didn't have a tour guide explaining everything to us on the way. I did manage to get really nicely sun-burned though, which helped me get back some of the tan that I've lost since being in the office. I still enjoyed the experience, but not all of the missionaries were so excited about it. 

This week I got to add "car dealer" to my list of experiences. We are in the process of selling one of the mission cars, and people have been coming in all week to look at it. Of course, the awkward part is that the car doesn't actually work (the alternator died), and area offices told us to sell it 'as is'. The mission really has been a crash course in life.  

The investigator we have been working the most with is Habiba. She's from Cote d'Ivoire and has had a lot of troubles in her life. She's been to church twice now and likes it. The thing that slows down our lessons more than anyone else is that she doesn't know how to read. She is trying to learn but it's slow. The Book of Mormon is hard for people that don't know how to read. In French there is a lot of grammar that is only used in formal writing, it's never used when speaking. But she wants to learn more and she is progressing.

Sorry for getting a little frustrated last week. I did say that I would already have an answer by this time. At least I'm in the thick of things, just imagine that you are Elder Shearer's mom, he has no idea what's going on with travel (of my wave, he is the only one in Togo right now. In fact, he has never served in Benin. He spent his entire mission in Togo). Here's what is happening on that level. Flight plans have been requested, they have not yet been received. The day President told me to request is December ___. Your email address was sent in as well, you will receive the flight plans the same time we do (I actually thought we would have received them by now, it was supposed to be a nice surprise for you).I think one or two of the other missionaries are aware of the date, but you should let them tell their mothers. President is not sure if they will let us fly on that day or not, it may be a few days later. We will find out soon.

Elder Christensen

October 5, 2013

There's snow already in Utah? That's not a good sign. 

General Conference here will still be with DVDs, so I still have a while before I will see it. Our internet video-streaming capacities here are extremely poor, so I doubt that I would be able to watch it online. I may be able to read it on in a week or two. That would be nice. 

I'm glad to hear that Jacob's convert is going to get to enjoy conference. That's got to be a special treat for her. Conference here isn't nearly as exciting. Especially since we often end up watching two sessions back to back. Which makes it four straight hours. That's hard, even for long-term churchgoers. 

President did say that the reason why I will be staying in the office a little bit longer is so that Elder Mary doesn't have to train two new office missionaries at once. I also have a couple of things I need to teach him still. Although his residence card application hasn't been accepted yet (this is a very long story, the summary is that immigration services forgot that we are in fact a church), and he might have to go to Togo in a few weeks. At that point, I don't know what would happen. 

I did buy a lot of my souvenirs this week. I'm trying to avoid buying stuff that is too tacky. I do have a couple of good pieces though. A couple of cool masks for example. I'm still looking for a couple of little statues though. No one ever got back to me about what kind of souvenir they would like. Unless they tell me soon, I will just assume they don't want anything. 

My spiritual thought for the week is John 10:14-16. The thought that the Savior knows us just as well as he knows his father is very comforting. It also is a motivation for missionary work. We are out here to help gather in these sheep that the Savior knows personally. That chapter really spoke to me this week. 

Transfer calls are this afternoon. I'm one of the last people in the mission that doesn't know everything about the transfer (some people are blabbermouths). 

This week was a week of food. With Elder Razanamparany going home, lots of members had us over to eat. It was all good food, I'm pretty sure I gained a pound or two. Oh well. It's weird to have him go home. 

I guess the second spiritual thought of the week is one that Elder Uchtdorf has taught a couple of times. Being busy for the sake of being busy isn't a virtue. Another interpretation comes from sister Eastmond (one of the couples here) in that part of being meek is being easy-going and happy. Lately, I've been rather uptight and stressed. The Savior was never uptight. He never made people feel like they were wasting his time. That's definitely a virtue I need to work more on. If not, I'm going to be a difficult person to deal with for a long time.

We got to go on an adventure this week. The Eastmond couple invited us and the Semkens out to Porto-Novo. We went to go look at what is probably the only "organic" farm in all of west Africa. It was actually a really interesting trip. It would be very interesting to see how those principles could be generally applied or enlarged. I'm not sure if it would work here or not, but it gave a lot of food for thought (and a lot of real food too, those were the biggest cabbages I've seen in Africa!). The restaurant on-site was also the only restaurant I've ever seen here that took Visa cards. Everywhere else you can only pay in cash. There was only one downside to the whole trip; there was a miscommunication about what to wear, so we all showed up in jeans and t-shirts when really it was still a shirt and tie thing. Oops. I am going to get Elder Semken's photos though, never fear. 

I heard from our american member who works at the embassy that BYU has changed the honor code? Apparently mustaches and skinny jeans are now out? Not that I was planning on wearing either of those when I got back, but I'm curious to know if it is true or not. Maybe other things changed as well. 

I also heard the most interesting conspiracy theory this week. Apparently, Dick Cheney collaborated with a mission president in the US to get this man baptized, and then they put something in his teeth so that they could track him before they made him come back to Africa. Now this man needs money so that he can go back to the US and finally thank Dick Cheney for helping him become a member of the church. That was hard to translate with a straight face.

Elder Christensen

September 28, 2013

Yes, Africa was hot this week. Hot and wet. It has rained a number of times this week. Luckily, I never got stuck in the rain. One time we did a split though and my companions weren't so lucky. Please don't say it is going to be a bad winter. That scares me. I'm already going to freeze when I get back. 

I'll be happy to get that over to Elder Gray. By the way, he said to tell his Mom that he really is fine, but his cyber is absolutely terrible so sometimes he isn't able to write. He just is never able to log in I guess. I've been really lucky, I've never had that problem. I will definitely still be in the office by the time Elder Sagers gets here. During my interview with President Weed yesterday he told me that he is going to keep me in the office a few weeks after this next transfer. I don't know if he means all the way to the next transfer or not. We will be opening a new apartment soon, so I think he is planning to have me go there once it is open. We will see I guess. At any rate, I think it will be about the end of October when I will leave the office. 

I was able to get the personal money out finally. I'm not sure if I did something different, or if it's because I happened to use the ATM at the country headquarters of a bank. But I did get the money. I still haven't gotten the package, but I'm not worried about that yet. I would give it another 2 weeks still. 

I did talk a bit to President Weed about departure dates, but he's still looking into it. It will happen when it will happen. But when it does happen, I will be the first to know since I will probably be ordering my own flight plans. You could get ahold of Jeff and ask if he knows of an opening if you want. I'm told that the ward I was in off-campus has been divided, I'm honestly not sure if I want to go back there or not. I know I said I would never go back on-campus, but I think it'd be interesting to live in the new heritage towers now that the BYU freshman demographic has changed a bit. I don't know if I would be allowed there or not though. Officially, my only request is that I not have to stay in a cardboard box on the street. Unless you get me a really good space heater. 

Yesterday was one of my crazy African story days. I was invited to another wedding. This time it was a double wedding. One of my converts in Aibatin got married, and his cousin married one of my old investigators that later got baptized. So I was officially on the list. Thanks to the rain, the road out the the mayor's office was an absolute mess (we actually do most of the weddings here outside the city because it is significantly cheaper that way). Then during the wedding it rained some more, and it was even worse getting home. Overall, I spent about 4 hours crammed into the mission van, trying not to bump too much into a newly-wed bride I didn't even know. When I got back, I had a couple minutes to calm my head before President whisked me into his office for my interview. He asked a lot of questions this time, I think mostly because I was the absolutely last interview so he didn't feel the stress of having to rush somewhere else. It was a good interview. After that we went to go teach 'Hakuna Matata.' He is doing well, he and his wife came to church again on Sunday. They like being able to ask questions during the classes. They are really doing pretty well. After that we had a lesson with a woman from Burkina Faso that a member referred to us.
The day ended with us going to the church building so I could play the piano for a funeral. Except the funeral actually wasn't at the church. So we grabbed the piano and headed to the house where it would be held. Turns out they asked me to be there 2 hours before the service was actually scheduled to start. I wish they would have coordinated that with us before, because the service started about 20 minutes before we usually go home for the day. Lets just say that we did not make the curfew last night. But yeah, now I can scratch off "play the piano outside for 200 people (most of whom were not members) for a night funeral in Africa" off of my bucket list. 

We had another baptism this morning. It was not planned very far out in advance this time. We have been teaching Catherine for about 5 weeks now, and she has come to church about that many times. She will be moving to Equatorial Guinea very soon, and asked if she could be baptized before she left. We asked President about it, and he said yes. So we did it. It actually was really good, her uncle who is a member of the church in another branch showed up without knowing she would be there. We also happened to baptize her on her birthday, which we didn't know in advance. She really does love the church, but I'm a little worried because there doesn't appear to be any church presence in Eq. Guinea. I know it might be a seed planted, but seeds often lie dormant for very long periods of time, and not every seed survives.  

I want to go back to the temple so badly. Missionaries here don't get to do it. One is because it is expensive. Two is because it takes a lot of time. Three is because the Ghana immigration/border people are not good news. Maybe one day I'll visit that temple, but not during my mission. Going to the temple is pretty high on my list of things to do once I get home. 

Well, looks like there are no secrets ever. But, as I feared, the application has run into some snags at the regional level. I give myself a B- on that project (partially for the faulty work, and partially for the faulty security). 

Huh, looks like I wrote a lot this week. Cool.

Elder Christensen

September 21, 2013

Hi Everyone,

Yes, it's been another crazy week in Africa. I don't know if there is any other kind of week. I just realized though that I've now spent 30 weeks in the mission office. Ouch. But President has dropped a couple of hints that I'm almost done here. I've had a really great experience here, but I will definitely be ready for the change of pace when that happens.

So our new mission couple arrived this week! Elder and Sister Christensen were really cool. It was funny to watch everyone who came into the office over the course of three days do a double take towards me. Everyone thinks they are my parents. Or at least my aunt and uncle (and yes, one of the first things we did was compare our genealogies. And no, we aren't related in the slightest). We had a good few days with them before they headed over to Togo. I think they will be alright over there though. Oh, and they took me out to lunch once before they left. That was nice too.

So you remember how last week I wrote about a new investigator name Hakuna Matata? Well he came to church! That's right, I had a rasta-man and his Costa Rican wife come to church! Unfortunately, between us and Sister Weed we forgot to ever tell him what time church starts, so he showed up 90 minutes late. Oops. They still liked it though and are planning on coming back tomorrow for all of it. We all pretty much went into shock when they walked into the gospel principles class.

Yes, you can send the camera out with Elder Allred. I'll still be in the office when he gets back. Also, please send a Spanish Book of Mormon (Mrs. Hakuna Matata doesn't read French very well, but the distribution center in Accra doesn't have any we can order). I tried again last week to pull out my personal money, but it still didn't give. I was using the same ATM though. I'm going to try some different ATMs this week. I was going to do it this morning, but didn't have the time due to reasons given below. 

So this morning we woke up at 5 AM because we had to get to a "DMV" by 7 AM. Elder Mary and Elder Gomun (one of the assistants) had to take the written exam for their drivers licenses. There were over 500 people there to take the test, we spent 3 hours waiting for their names to be called. 

President Weed spent most of the week in Togo doing interviews, so I didn't talk to him about my departure date. My interview with him will probably be Tuesday, so I'll ask then. I can tell you that Dec 15 won't be possible for me though. I do know that class registration is in about a month. As far as housing, can I just stay in the cabin? Haha, no I'd freeze to death there. 

They are painting the mission office right now due to some water damage (discolorations) we had a couple of months ago. They aren't working very fast, and the office is a mess to get everything out of their way. Painters here are not very careful, when they painted the Gbedjromede apartment they got paint on one of my white shirts! It stayed there for months before finally going away. Or I lost the shirt, I'm not actually sure.  

This week I thought a lot about stewardships. Heavenly Father really expects a lot of us. Since everything is his, all we are are stewards. We need to show respect to everything he gives us (friends, family, goods, callings, bodies, etc). In the world there is definitely a sense of "it's here to be used, if I don't use it, someone else will!" Whereas the Lord often says "yes, it is there, but I still don't want you to touch it." We aren't here to get as much personal profit as we can. People generally (and by that I often mean me) lose sight of this. In the words of Elder Holland, even when we do manage to put something on the alter, we often hang around as if waiting for a receipt! Related to all of this, the personal goal I set during this week is "if it isn't mine, and I didn't ask permission, don't touch it!" I wasn't perfect at that at home. I'm trying to do better now.

I still haven't gotten the package, but I imagine I will get it in the next two weeks. 

Love to all of you,
Elder Christensen 

September 14, 2013

To respond to your question, I don't know anything about numbers superstitions here. 13 doesn't seem to mean anything. 5 and 7 I think are a little significant, but mostly due to some voodoo stuff about snakes (I wasn't really paying attention to the tour guide at that point). Oh, and they love twins here for some reason. That's about all I've got for the moment.

Honestly I still haven't tried to get money out my account. I haven't had time/we haven't passed by an ATM recently (those things don't grow on trees here). As far as a camera goes, I obviously still haven't bought one yet. Here's an idea though. We have a missionary returning to the US for a week due to a long story that isn't mine to tell. He said that if you want, I can give you his address there and he will bring it with him. The thing is that he comes back October 6, I'm not sure if you want me to go that long without a camera. If you want me to go ahead and buy one this week, signal the Semkens and I'll go out and buy it (but mention if you want it to be a nice camera, or just a cheap one to get me through the rest of the mission). 

Today was a very busy day. First off, we had a baptism. It was the first time I had more than one candidate. Both Kevin and Marielle have been coming to church for almost two months, and were very prepared. It was a nice service, and I was able to help out with the piano again. The only bad thing was that it rained pretty hard, which probably scared off some of the people that wanted to come watch. Kevin gave a wonderful testimony, I can tell that he is going to do just fine. With luck, I should have 1-2 more baptisms before I leave the office. That'd be really nice. We have a couple of investigators that I really like.  

After that, we went to a lunch appointment with a convert of Elder Razanamparany. We got permission from President Weed to do it. That was fun, she made some good food. Super awkward when the other missionaries caught us though (no, we weren't entirely in our area. That's why we got permission from President Weed first). 

After that, I got to spend the afternoon running Elder Ragodonandrasana around the city to his old areas to pick up/drop off things he had forgotten. That took some time. That's why I'm writing a bit later than usual.

Important news! The Christensen couple arrives this evening. I'm hoping they take me out to lunch on Monday.

This week we had 12 missionaries finish and go home. That included my trainer and two of my senior companions. That was really interesting to watch them all go. I'd always assumed that when they went home it would sink in how little time I have left, but that shoe actually hasn't dropped yet. It will probably drop next month when my companion goes home and I receive my flight plans. No, President hasn't told us what day yet. But we put it on his agenda to think about it. I did request the flight plans for the transfer before me though. 

So this is something that I don't get. I have had times on my mission where, even though I was working hard, nothing seemed to be progressing. Nothing I said seemed to change anyone. That's normal, it happens a lot on the mission. The part I don't understand is that EVERY SINGLE TIME I write letters to other missionaries, I somehow seem to be an answer to their prayers or help them with the big problem they are facing. What's up with that? Maybe I should have just stayed home and served as a "mormons writing hands" missionary. I'm happy to do that for my fellow missionaries, but why does it seem to work so much more in letters than in the field?

We got the most amazing contact from Sister Weed this week. His name is Aristide, but most people know him as Hakuna Matata. He is a Rastafarian who sells souvenirs near the office, and his wife is from Costa Rica. He says he's interested and will bring his family to church tomorrow. Elder Mary is super excited because he'll finally get to preach the gospel in Spanish (Mrs. Hakuna Matata doesn't speak French, only Spanish and English). 

Oh, guess what? That paper christmas tree you sent me, I left it in Doumassesse. It is still taped up on the wall in Doumassesse I just found out. Missionaries are so lazy sometimes. Now I understand how some people can leave their christmas lights up all year.

Okay, that's the letter for this week.

Love you all!
Elder Christensen

Monday, September 9, 2013

September 7, 2013

I'm doing well here. Africa is still crazy as always. It is starting to get a little bit warmer again, but not too bad. I still don't really need to turn my fan on at night. I did one night but it got way too cold so I had to turn it off. Things should get warmer in a month or so is my guess.

Okay, I'll find a camera here. Shouldn't be too difficult. If that money is still in my account, that should be more than enough to buy a camera. Unless you want me to buy a really nice one that I'll keep using when I go home. I'm thinking something on the medium-low scale myself.

I should know within 2 weeks when I will come home. Interviews with President Weed got bumped up a little, I'm going to use that if it doesn't come up sooner. At that point, we'll know what to do about housing. Also, I've forgotten some of the names of people back home, so I'd have to work on that. 

Sounds like everyone is holding up alright there.
This week was a crazy week. First of all we had new missionaries come in. That's always an interesting experience. I've now welcomed a good 35-ish missionaries here. Which is good, because next month we'll be welcoming 21 all at the same time!

Having a missionary companion who is about to go home is pretty interesting. He's pretty excited. Not as excited as other missionaries I've known, but it's noticable. The weird thing is that he will go home about the same time that I should get my flight plans. That might throw me for a loop. 

On Thursday I had the most interesting dinner appointment of my mission. Why? Because it was with an American. I think I've mentioned that there is an American member who works at the embassy here. Well, he invited us over for dinner. It was delicious, and the conversations were very interesting. It definitely keeps working with the foreign service on my list of potential careers. The best part was the dessert. Legitimate brownies! Fun fact, the Malagasy word for brownies is Mofo Kadradraka, which when literally translated means "full of cockroaches." Luckily, Elder Razanamparany shared that after we had eaten. The whole experience was very interesting. Of course, any time 2 Americans, a malagash, a frenchman, a ghanaian, and an ivoirien all sit down at a table, it's going to be interesting.

This week I had a mission first. In a really good way. I had my first convert who went to the temple. He should be getting back right about now, I'm super excited to ask him about it tomorrow. Temple attendance, especially here where the temple is 2 countries away, is something that really helps anchor a member in place. Of course, the downside is that the member who we work with a lot to do lessons also went to the temple, which made it hard for us to do member-present lessons.

We are still working to get Elder Mary his driving license. He is getting better at driving, but I still hate driving school here. It has kind of messed with our teaching schedule a bit, but we are working with it. The irony is that I probably won't be able to appreciate it very much at the end. I'll probably be transferred out of the office two weeks after he gets his license. Oh well. I guess I get the experience without the stress. 

This week we got a rare treat. No, not the brownies. We got to hear something that so few missionaries get to hear here. Someone told us, "I've read about 20 chapters in the Book of Mormon, I have questions to ask you." Even if the questions are a bit incredulous, at least you read the book! Especially since we hadn't left a specific reading assignment. That person is actually progressing pretty well, she accepted a baptism date for the beginning of October. Now we just have to figure out how to see her often enough to teach her everything. Things are actually looking pretty good in our area right now. If everything works out, I could see four or even five baptisms before I leave the office. Now faith just has to mix with free agency of others. That has always been one of the hardest parts of missionary work. I always have a tendency to think that if the person chooses not to do it, that it is my fault. It's not a good thought process, but it still happens sometimes. On the other hand, being a pessimist about it doesn't get you anywhere. At the end of the day though, I should have a baptism next week. That's always a happy thought. Especially for someone like Kevin. He's really doing well. 

Mom, you got to go see James Taylor? Lucky. That would have been a cool concert to see. And maybe the most sober venue James Taylor has ever performed in.

Well, I think that's about it for this week. Love to all,
Elder Christensen