Wednesday, January 23, 2013

January 21, 2013

Hello from Africa,
Haha, the I pad makes silly auto-fill mistakes. Like saying it was Wes
who was hit with a moto. No, I was not hit. That was Elder Montross. Over
the months I've had a couple of close-ish calls (got clipped by
rear-view mirrors once) but I have no plans to ever actually be hit. 
As far as scorpions go, I've never seen one here, so I couldn't tell you.
Elder Layton is in a sector a bit farther North, maybe that's why.
Generally, I've never had any problems with safety and health. I know
that I'm being protected, I normally would be long overdue for
something by now.
Weather is about back to normal here. Harmattan officially ended. I
can't remember when rain starts again, I think it's about May. Just 4
months. We'll probably see a few sprinkles before then though. I'm
just praying that it isn't so cold back home a year from now. I do not
want to go from here to below-zero weather.
So fun experience of the week. We went to the baptismal service with
an investigator, and I got asked to play the piano. That wasn't too
bad. The awkward part was when the missionary leading the music felt
that he still needed to intone the hymn, and happened to choose a key
a full whole step down. Which meant I had to try transposing on the
spot while people sang. That was one of the more challenging things
I've ever done, musically speaking.
We still have two branches in the building for the moment. I believe
the building for the other branch has been bought, but they are
repainting it or something. In a week or two we should be back to 9 AM
church. For the apartment, nothing has changed. Literally every single
apartment has been touched by transfers in the last month.... except
us. It's obviously just a matter of time, but I'm not sure if it'll be
me or my companion leaving first. I did get the chance to talk to the
new Elders that just came in, already found my crazy Mormon connection
with two of them. Hill Cumorah Pageant has been wonderful for that.
I really like the area we are working in, and I love most of our
investigators..... I just don't know how to get them to come to
church. That has been my biggest problem in Togo. Other than that,
we've been working really hard and have seen some success. We did get
the two sons of the Anti family to come to church yesterday, and that
went well.
Thanks for always keeping me updated on people's mission calls as much
as you do. Looks like I will have a bunch of homecomings I'll be able
to attend.
Interviews with President Weed this week, should be interesting, first
time in Togo. Also interesting because of the timing. You may not
remember this (well, I know you do mom), but this week will be my 1
year mark. I can't believe how fast it has gone by. In some ways, it
has all been great, I know I've grown in ways I never expected. In
other ways, I see I still have so far to go. Nothing like a mission to
help you see your faults and weaknesses. Probably one of the most
humbling experiences I've gone through is realizing that some of the
things I do are just annoying to other people. No one likes to think
that it's their fault. I admire all of my companions for the massive
patience they've showed me.
As far as package stuff goes, I could use some more taco seasoning.
For Toiletries, Toothpaste and maybe 1 new toothbrush would be the
only things I would need. I still have well over half of my deodorant.
and I probably have enough floss for 3 more years. Don't think I need
new razors either. Hair gel, what I've been using is Suave hair
paste.... I think. I can never remember once I leave the apartment.
I love you all, very much
Elder Christensen

January 14, 2013

Hi Family and Friends,
Wow, this last week just absolutely flew by. I hope all of my weeks
can be like these first two weeks of the year, I can't believe we're
already halfway through January. Of course, everyone around here is
still giving happy new years wishes. I think I might have just seen a
monkey hanging out of a car window driving by. Not entirely sure
though. If so, that's my first monkey I've seen in Africa.
The thought of Jacob entering the MTC was running through the back of
my mind all of Wednesday. I'm glad he was able to get off to a good
start, I look forward to hearing how he's doing.
Oh yeah, there's some biggish news for our mission. We'll be getting
sister missionaries soon! At least one is coming in next month, but I
don't know if she has a companion yet. They will obviously be in
Benin. Also, not American. We're looking at Congolaises and
Ivoiriennes for the most part apparently. Still, that was a surprising
little twist.
That's kind of scary winter weather. I do not want to have to deal
with that when I get back. December/January are some of the cooler
months here, but it isn't that cold. Good thing I have so many jackets
back home.
Interesting news from Togo for the week. The Grand Marché here burned
down. Three story building full of little shops. Apparently the fire
was so bad that the firefighters in Ghana popped over the border to
help out. There you go. We were thinking about going and looking at it
this morning, but my companion hasn't been feeling so great lately so
we didn't go.
In other news, I used one of those little Tide things you sent me to
wash my sheets this morning. I'm super excited to go to bed tonight,
they felt a lot softer.
This week we held church in the afternoon. That was weird for several
experiences. First of all, we were able to go out and teach in the
morning, which is very unusual. Very few missionaries have that chance
around here. Made it work, now we have a better idea of what's going
on. I also got to play the piano again for sacrament meeting. Always
an interesting experience that. I wish that I had time/the opportunity
to practice the piano throughout the week. Oh well. I didn't have any
problems with having church in the afternoon because I've had all that
practice at home, but here it's the first time for a lot of members.
Doesn't help that lunch takes longer to prepare here, so it's kind of
a conflict for some people's schedules.
I'm finally getting a feel for the whole "loving the people" thing.
I've never hated them, don't get me wrong, but it has only been over
the last few weeks that I've started feeling like I really love the
people. I've still got a long ways to go though.
These last few months I've been working on an idea that finally
oralized itself last night. It's the Gospel that is true, not the
church. I realize that that could sound a little heretic coming from a
missionary, but I don't think it is. It is the gospel that will save
us, change us. The church is nothing but a tool to that end. I think I
used to confuse the two a lot before, make them into the same thing.
Yes, I did finally get the Ensign you sent me, and yes, the cards were
inside, you can activate them now. I actually got a bit of mail, Most
of the mail sent in December just got through to me. As always, I love
mail, and I look forward to getting more. Or less, as more people go
on missions.
As far as stuff from home, I don't really need much. I'm a really low
maintenance guy. I didn't even use about 30% of my soutien (the
monthly money, I forget the word in English) in December. Peanut
butter is about the only thing I can think of. But if I think of
anything this week, I'll write it down and tell you next week.
Love you all so much,
Elder Christensen 

January 7, 2013

Africa wishes you all a happy 2013!
Wow, yeah I'm glad to not have to be dealing with Utah weather for the
moment. It's pretty nice here for the moment, Harmattan kicked in a
little bit more, it's relatively cool and dry for this last week.
Wow, yeah it's hard to believe that Jacob leaves this week. Even
though it's been coming up for months now. But that's what it was like
for my farewell too. What's he having for his last few meals?
I don't really have any suggestions for last minute stuff to get him,
except that maybe he could have some reallllly cool ties to trade in
the MTC? But yeah, I don't imagine he'll be doing that much walking in
his mission. I still think it's funny that Wes worked in two states,
me in two countries, and Jacob will serve in about two city blocks.
But our missions probably all had about the same amount of people.
I heard a rumor that the new mission president has already received
his call. So keep an eye out in the church news. I'm definitely sure
that split will be this summer at the very least. We'll see which
country I end up in, I get a feeling I'll stay here while all the
other people from my time period go to Benin.
I haven't received any mail since that sheet music you sent out, but
I'm assuming it'll get here soon. As far as stuff I could use, the
only thing off the top of my head is that I'll probably need some more
of that shoe wax stuff. Maybe some more inserts too. I still haven't
gone to the America-like store here, I'm not sure what's there.
No, I was not the only one to clean before the cleaning check.
Everyone pitched in. I'm pretty sure we didn't win though, our desks
weren't clean enough apparently. Which isn't really our fault since
our desks are so small that the area book takes up 2/3 of my desk. Oh
well, lesson learned. Next time, I'll just chuck everything in the
As far as I'm aware, I'm staying here in Doumassesse until at least
February. There should be some transfers this week, but that call
would have come in yesterday. There was a huge round of emergency
transfers last week, but we weren't touched. So as far as I know, I'm
staying here. Transfers are normally every six weeks, but it really is
about when new Elders come in or old ones leave. Or when Elders make
bad choices and have to be transferred. 
Our branch doesn't attend the new building. In fact, thanks for reminding 
me. As of this Sunday, our branch will be meeting at 1:30 PM. The branch 
split off from us still doesn't have a new building, and the landlord for 
the missionaryapartment there refused to let them hold church there, so 
they have to keep using our building. Should be interesting to have to go 
out proselyting in the morning and then come back in for church. Could be
a few weeks, could be a few months.
Okay I'm low on time, I'm just going to copy-paste a few paragraphs
from my letter to President.
This last week had a couple of bright sides. The first was the Famille
Anti. We taught them twice. The first time there was a member of their
church there who batted heads a little with us. After the lesson, he
started feeding them a bunch of anti-talk. When we came back the
second time, they started out telling us that, and also informed us
that they still wanted to take the lessons with us. I was super happy.
I don't want to lose this family. The son Steve totally understands
our message, and he's ready to act on it. The mom still needs a little
bit of reassuring, but she's going to really take the time to
understand the Book of Mormon, because that was one of the things
their friend attacked.
We worked a lot with a member named Jean-Gaspard this week. He was
present at that second lesson with Anti and Steve. I love working with
him because he bears super awesome testimonies and pretty much every
time he's in a lesson, I have moments where principles and scriptures
click together in my brain for the first time and I feel the Spirit
working through me. It's so powerful.
Last night, we had scheduled to go see one of our newer investigators,
but I felt like we should go see if one of our other investigators had
come back from his vacation yet. Not only did we find him, but he told
us he's been reading a little from the Book of Mormon every night and
he thinks it's good. In talking about the plan of salvation we gave a
baptismal date and he accepted. So far so good. I get the feeling that
it'll hold too. I'm excited that we are finally having some success
with young men, it's a target group I've never been able to work with
a lot. If everything I'm looking at comes to fruit, at least two
missionaries could come out of these few weeks I've spent with Elder
Gnahore. That would be so cool, that would really give me the
assurance of a lasting difference thanks to my mission. That would
make up for a lot of my setbacks I had in Gbedjromede and Aibatin.
Everything will work out alright. That was the second
big message I got out of conference. Rough times are ahead for all of
us, but if we have faith everything will be alright.
As far as your question Mom, people around here don't really get the
flu. Even getting so much as a fever usually means you're pretty badly
sick. When the fever I had a few months ago made me shiver, my
companion wanted to take me to the hospital right then.
Elder Christensen
PS mom, I love the photos you attached, but next time have Dad shrink
the photos first, they were a little big for the connection.