Sunday, August 11, 2013

August 10, 2013

Howdy all,
I'm doing pretty well here in Africa. I'm actually doing really well this afternoon because Elder and Sister Semken took us out to lunch at an Indian restaurant, which was delicious. We were celebrating for Elder Tshizanga, he's going to be transferred out of the office on Monday. The funny part is, he still doesn't actually know where he is going... He knows he will be a zone leader though. The assistants have never gotten around to calling us, and President was in Togo half of the week so his office was locked and we couldn't see the transfer board. 

We ran another giant wave of blood tests for the residency cards. We had it better organized this time, there weren't 40 missionaries milling around our little office asking us to do things for them. That's because we threw them all into the garage and called them in 4-5 at a time.

On Monday I met three interesting people. In the morning I was at immigration getting my 7th Benin visa (we only get them for 3 months). There was an american couple there. They were super nice. About halfway through the chat I had with them, I realized they were Jehovah's Witness missionaries. I'm so glad our missions are only for 2 years and not 13. The second interesting person I met was a senior couple that came in to do some humanitarian/wheelchair stuff. They brought their granddaughter along, who somehow managed once to spend 8 solid months touring the world off of a hairstylist salary. The third interesting person I met was a recently returned missionary. As in, I met him between him landing at the airport and getting released (because we have no stakes here, the mission president sets apart and releases missionaries). It was super weird, watching a missionary walk into president's office, and watching a returned missionary walking out of it. That day is getting closer.

We have a couple of investigators that are doing pretty well. No one golden for the moment, but there are a couple that are progressing. The man that works at the french cultural center is doing well (clarification, he's not actually french). He's starting to get a sense of the Spirit and he has noticed a growing testimony.

We got flight plans for the Christensen couple coming in September. At this point, I have no idea whether or not I will be in the office at that point. I seem to have fallen out of the loop on a couple for a couple of different levels. 

Piano lessons are not so hot for the moment, they haven't been well advertised. The other problem is that I don't really want to teach piano, I want to teach people how to sing the hymns (very few people here have any training in reading music). But we'll see I guess. I'll keep working at it and I'll let you know.

I don't think I'll be sending much more photos home soon. Someone introduced a virus into our office system, and even though I know my memory cards will not give viruses (since I never once used them in any other computer), I can't be a hypocrite about not letting others do it. President Weed's son comes to visit next week though, I might be able to stuff my card in an envelope going back with him though. I would need you to send me back a memory card at that point though.

It sounds like life is continuing and people are getting older over there (for better or for ill). I want to be able to recognize you all when I get back, you hear!

 Love to you all,
Elder Christensen

August 3, 2013

Hi Everyone,
Well, it's a new month! July flew by. Considering we are already 3 days into August, I think it might do the same thing. Shoulder to the wheel. Nose to the grindstone. Foot to the pave-stones. Finger to the doorbell (just kidding, very few people here have doorbells. And most of them leave their doors open anyways for air flow, so we just end up saying knock knock).

No, I still don't know exactly when I am coming home. President probably won't fix us all out until sometime in September. He still hasn't picked a date for the missionaries leaving the transfer before me. What I want to know is, are you and/or dad going to come pick me up? I'd be more than happy to take you out to Ouidah or something. And the airport isn't too difficult, non-french speakers get through it all the time.

Yeah, the branches are all being divided again. We've been working on that for a while, it has been nice to get that done. I was actually a little surprised by it, once the paperwork was all done they just had to pick the leaders, and I wasn't included in that process. I do have another big project that I am working on related to that though. The growth in this mission has just been phenomenal. 

Elder Mary is a clown. He's one of the most colorful characters I've ever known. For a brief rundown, he started his mission from France, but when he finishes his mission he will go to Peru for a month before going to BYU (accepted and deferred). Also, Peruvian cookies are good.

Oh yeah, I finally caved in and punched a new hole in my belt. I think I might be able to punch another hole, but it'd be pretty tight at that point. So I think that means I'm about a 28.5-29 inch waist right now. I still seem to weigh about 138-140 lbs. 

We had an apartment inspection this morning. We got full points. But I think we lost the coin toss with the other apartment that got full points, so I'm not sure if we actually won or not. All I know is, our apartment is clean. .  .  .  Until tonight when we pull half of it all back out again.  

I saw a rasta man wearing a Brighton Utah Ski Resort shirt the other day. That was different.

I've gotten to drive the assistants' truck the last few days. It's so much nicer than mine. I'm sad that we have to go back to the Ranger now.

On Sunday we announced in Church that I would start teaching a class to learn more of the hymns. Only one person showed up this week, so I ended up trying to teach him a bit of piano. I found out I don't know any of the french musical vocabulary. We'll announce it again this week and hope that more people show up. I honestly prefer to teach singing rather than piano. Learning piano is almost impossible if you don't actually have a keyboard at home. 

We had a really cool lesson about chastity this week. I know, you weren't expecting that! Actually, we had cool lesson prepared with a nice scripture chain. We get to the lesson, and the investigator reads out the whole chain to us. He had put it together himself during his own personal study. It was a pretty easy lesson from that point, and it even strengthened his testimony of the Book of Mormon!

Our zone conference was pretty good this week. I didn't have to translate this time. Thank goodness too, Sister Weed thought that talking about the tides would be a good analogy for her lesson. It was, but no one knew how to say it in French. President Weed talked about obedience again. I know that I am not a perfectly obedient missionary, but there is a nice feeling when President writes a list of obediance problems up on the chalkboard, and you know that he isn't talking about you. Maybe that sounds self-righteous, but it's more like relief to know that I don't have to worry. 

Sorry I didn't talk much about missionary work this week. I'll try to talk more about it next week. Unless I end up spending the entire week with Elder Semken searching for new missionary apartments (which is possible). 

Lots of love,
Elder Christensen

July 27, 2013

Howdy all,

Glad that you got home safe and sound from pageant (and so quickly too). I'm glad that you've been able to enjoy that for so long, and I'm excited to participate next year. I'll be there to help with everything mom, don't worry about it.

This week went a lot better than the week before. I figured that would happen. We got the chance to have some good lessons, and we've been able to find a couple of new investigators. We've really been getting more contacts than usual lately, and that has been nice. Now if we could just get a Hill Cumorah Pageant referral, that would be amazing. 

Well, this week I passed my 18 month mark on my mission. It has actually gone by really fast. Looking back, I've had some really incredible opportunities and moments on my mission. I've loved it, and I'm looking forward to my time that's left. It doesn't feel like that much. I'll just have to take it one day at a time.

I think last week I mentioned that I would be getting a new companion. Elder Tshizanga is still hanging around in the office with me (we've now been together for 5 months), but we've added a new flavor to the mix. Elder Mary is a lot of fun, and seems to be a good missionary. It'll be interesting being back at three. I am always learning about how to handle that. A fun fact is that the first lesson Elder Mary taught as an office missionary was in the French Cultural Center (this is cool because Elder Mary is French). We recently started teaching someone that works there. That's a cool little place, sometime we'll have to go down there on a P-day and really check the place out. After that maybe we will hit the Chinese cultural center. That would be interesting.

Zone conferences will be this week. Should be good. I always enjoy getting the chance to mingle with some of the missionaries I've been in districts and zones with before.  

No, Uncle John never sent me that story. I never got it at least. Maybe he mailed it and it got lost. That happens from time to time here. 

For the moment I'm not terribly tired of being in the mission office. There is enough new stuff going on, and I'm able to contribute enough that I don't really get bored. I don't really worry about it, President will move me when he needs me moved. All I really know is that I will finish my mission as a trainer. We have a LOT of missionaries coming in in October.

Are you ready for this? I got to do the orientation for a new American missionary this week. He's from North Salt Lake, went to Orchard Elementary. He thinks he knows Grandma and Grandpa C. It's a small world. We also oriented our first Nigerian sister. For some very weird reason I can't explain, she makes me think of Stacey.
Okay, I've got a story you never saw coming. Elder and Sister Semken took us out to eat the other day. Why? Because the last time they went to that restaurant, their waitress was interested in the church. Taking us to lunch was their idea of giving us the referral. What restaurant was this? Livingstones, a pizza parlor. That's right, I ordered a pizza last week (and because you just finished Pageant, I ordered the Niagara). It was alright, but too many mushrooms. That was something I never would have done before the mission though. Also unexpected was the music they were playing there. Queen's "Radio Gaga" was playing when we showed up, and it proceeded to play through Bangles, Pet Shop Boys, Simple Plan, Pseudo Echo, and Billy Idol among others. It was by far the most unexpected blast of pre-mission culture I have ever had. Good thing that was a pizza restaurant, the temptation to go back there isn't too high.  

In my personal study I had a really good lesson from Alma 1. I think it's a lesson that the Book of Mormon teaches a lot, but it seemed really clear in this chapter. One of the seeming contradictions of the Gospel is having peace during trials. I saw 4 main ways we can work to have that: be constant in obedience to commandments, bear trials with patience, take time to listen to the Word of God, and give of goods to poor and needy. What I really like is how in verse 29 it says that it was the "stability" of the church that led to the blessings. If we are doing what we are supposed to do, that gives us a foundation that can whether whatever may come. We have to have faith IN that foundation as well, if we don't know that it exists then we can still falter.

Okay, well, I love you all very much!
Elder Christensen

July 20, 2013

Hello Everyone,

Wow, sound like you had a lot of fun with the rain! 

It's actually been really cool around here, I haven't even used my fan at night at all this week. The real "rainy season" was apparently supposed to end on Monday, but it has rained 3 times since then, so no one really knows what is going on. I don't remember enough from last year to say, and two data points doesn't really make any statistical trend anyway.

Don't worry about pageant next year Mom, it will all be fine. I'll be there to help too, and there won't be any girls around to distract me, they'll all be getting back from their missions. 

Yeah, we've got quite a number of missionaries coming in over the next three months. Only 2 Americans though, which is interesting. But no Americans go home until November-December. Then it's my turn!
We should be getting our third office missionary this week. I'm not actually 100% positive, but I believe that it is Elder Mary. He's from France, but his mother is Peruvian, so he's kind of that dark tan color that all of Richard and America's kids have. He speaks pretty good English too, and he's a lot of fun. It should be fun working with him. It gives me absolutely no idea though on when President will send me out of the office.

Funny you should ask about driving mom. I got pulled over this week for running a red light. I was very alertly watching as I approached, and I saw 3 cars and 6-7 motos run it too, so I assumed that there was a policeman directing traffic. There was a policeman, but he wasn't directing traffic. Apparently here, the way they enforce tickets is by taking away your registration and insurance documents. So we had to go to the central police station to get them back. I paid the fine ($12) with my own money since it was actually my fault. The whole thing was a huge hassle, and I am struggling a little bit to be charitable towards that policeman. But for your other question, yes I am a lot better at driving stick now.

We ran into that tie-merchant again. Some of my ties were getting rather dirty so I picked up some new ones. 75 cents each, I'm getting better at bargaining. Which is good, I'm going to try getting down to the artisan place soon to pick up souvenirs. I figure being in the office is the best time. I know one missionary picked up a carved elephant femur there. I think I'll leave the ivory alone though, that could be awkward getting stopped at customs coming home. Does anyone have specific requests for souvenirs? If you want me to get clothes made for the family, I'm going to need measurements.  

We had some very interesting medical times this week. [backstory] a few months ago I attended the wedding of Precious, the Nigerian woman who works in the mission office to help us pay utilities and buy supplies and what-not. Well, her new husband had a stroke and is now paralyzed on his left side. So we've been helping her out by running him around to various clinics and testing centers and what not (and by whatnot, I mean getting him up and down 3 flights of stairs). That has been a very interesting experience. BTW, I learned that it is best not to go to the hospital if you haven't eaten anything yet in the day. Low blood sugar + blood leaving head = Elder Christensen realllllly needing to get off of his feet.

If it sounds like this week was a little rough... It was. But things are doing better now. Hey, not every week can be daisies and buttercups. But weeks like this last one usually mean that good things are just around the corner. 

So are you ready for this story? Two of the girls that attended my farewell (not knowing each other at the time)...... Are now at least in the same district, and I'm waiting for confirmation on whether or not they are actually companions. The world is so small. 

You know what else is just around the corner? My 18th month mark. If I were a sister missionary, I would be going home next week. That is super weird. I'm so glad that none of the sisters in the MTC with me came to my mission. It would be so distracting to watch them go home.

Do you know what is sad? All of my old high school and college friends have come home from their missions. Do you know why this is sad? Not a single one of them has written to me to tell me about their mission. I currently have no friends regularly writing me who don't wear a badge with the name of the church on it.    

BTW, in case you didn't notice, I'm attaching some pictures! 
1 - the city scape from the top of our apartment building
2 - A photo of me and Elder Mbala (not a companion, just a cool Elder) with snakes!
3 - a dinner I ate a few weeks ago. Oranges and Tangos (? I forget what they called them) + 2 chocolate covered oreos (this is why I don't hardly ever go into supermarkets). No, my dinners do not usually look like this. Yes, I eat lots of things I didn't eat before the mission.
4 - Me. Wearing a Kente tie (they come from Ghana, and I never wear the thing because it is so hard to knot!).  Oh yeah, and I cut my hair again. I did it in the dark, but it seems to be alright. I don't know what the back is like though. 

Have fun driving home! Don't get stuck in Nebraska again!
Elder Christensen

July 13, 2013

Sorry this week the email will be a little short, I took some time to respond to Dad's email. 
Yes, transfers were this week. We had some Elders finish and go home. It is always interesting to send Elders home, to see how they act in their last few hours. This time I even got to be with them right to the end, we got to help take them to the airport. Then it took us 30 minutes to get out of the parking lot (this is an airport with only one runway.)

We should be going back up to three in the office in a week or two because there is a new Elder coming in soon. But we don't know who it will be (in the office).

We are sort of seeing an increase. Our problem is that we have a lot of missionaries going home soon. This next transfer, 12 missionaries go home. So our numbers get a little screwy with that. But overall, yes it is increasing. We found out this last week though that we are really supposed to have 6 senior couples in the mission... and we have 2 for the moment, 3 in September when Elder and Sister Christensen arrive (and I remind blog readers, that's no relation to me).

Teaching is generally going well. This last week was hard with the missionaries going home and some other problems that came up, but overall we do pretty well. This week we fixed a baptism date for a mother and daughter we have been teaching for a while now, the problem is they are so busy that I'm not sure if we will have time to teach them everything. And obviously we can't baptize them if there is still stuff to learn. 

Haha, yeah definitely don't send any tuna. It's way cheaper for me to just buy it here. If you want to send a cheap CD player that would be fine, I miss being able to listen to hymns as I clean and do laundry. 

As far as college goes, I still don't have a lot of info to make a perfectly informed choice. I actually don't know about my BYU scholarship, but I think I'm okay there. I'm still trying to figure out what to do about my New Century scholarship, I wrote dad a couple of weeks ago about that problem. For the moment I'm thinking I'll do winter semester, but the absolute earliest I could be home would be January 1 (and more realistically it's Jan. 3-4). I don't know about that turn-around. Your thoughts?

Oh yeah, tell Aunt Sally I got her card.

I recently read Alma 60-61. It's where Captain Moroni writes to Pahoran telling him to shape up or Moroni will come to shape him up. Then Pahoran says "not my fault, please come help!" As I was reading this, All I could think of was "this is pretty much exactly my relationship with Accra." It was funny as I was reading Moroni's letter, but a reminder against judging as I read Pahoran's response. I had some other experiences this week also where I misjudged people, usually due to things I had heard about them. It taught me that I still need to be more charitable, and always try to assume that people are good-natured. Most people really aren't trying to do things badly, they just make mistakes. We need to treat them thusly. 

This week we had a very interesting lesson. The church this man goes to teaches that baptism isn't necessary. Apparently baptism by water was only important for Jesus. He had so many other weird ideas, it was astounding. Of course, I met a man once who thinks that AIDS is just a glitch that some humans have because their hardware (body) isn't powerful enough to run the software (spirit, which apparently got upgraded recently in the last 50 years or so).

Oh yeah, my weight is still holding steady at about 140. I think it will stay there until I leave the office, then it might go down a little more.

I had a really cool thought about obedience, but I don't have time to type it out. Darn. Just know that I figured out this week some of the ways that I have been blessed in my mission for trying to be obedient (note: I am not a perfectly obedient missionary. But I do try. I feel pretty good, but I do still have room to improve).

Flat Elder Ethan Christensen and Flat Elder Jacob Christensen at the Hill Cumorah Pageant

Love you all, have a great last week at pageant!
Elder Christensen

July 6, 2013

Hello from Africa,
You're at pageant! I would have totally listened to the music today, but it turns out I killed my CD player. So no dice there. Sounds like everyone has fun parts. I'm sure Wes won't even have to show up to rehearsals, he should have that thing down. 

Missionary work is going pretty well, but it has been a little crazy lately. Yesterday was one of those days. But Tomorrow is Sunday and everything will be good! Then the next week starts and it will be crazy again with transfers and everything. Can you believe that I only have 4 transfers left? That's weird. 

Good news! I rediscovered the joy that is tuna fish this week! Unfortunately it is a little expensive here. But fortunately, I like it. So we will make that work somehow. 

President just finished planning the transfers. I'm staying in the office. Surprise! My bet is I leave in October.  

The fourth of July wasn't a big deal here. Even less so because I am the only American in my apartment. I just bought some cookies and a Sprite and called it good. It'll be interesting to celebrate that back in the US next year (oh wait, I think I'll be at pageant. Never mind).

I had an interesting thought yesterday as I was driving some Elders to the medical clinic. I know the city of Cotonou better than I know Salt Lake City. If you tell me the name of a quartier here, I can almost always tell you where it is, even if I don't know everything in it. But all the suburbs of salt lake? Bonne chance. I still have no idea where Sugar House technically is. 
I've run into an interesting snag that I don't know the answer to. All of a sudden, I've had a couple of new insights into temple symbology and what-not. Do I write those down? I don't want to forget them, but I don't want just anyone picking it up and reading it either. 

I would say don't worry too much about spirituality for the Cast Team mom. Just have them role play on each other, or have Wes/other RMs come and share stories. 

I had an intense gospel visual parable the last day or two. We've had a couple more medical cases come up (I've determined that that happens every time President decides to spend more than 3 days in Togo). One of the missionaries has been a little less than willing to take the medicine prescribed. I just have this image of our Heavenly Father with a giant cosmic medical spoon full of "challenges medicine" and us refusing to open our mouths. "It won't taste good!" "I don't want it!" "It needs to be blue" "Make it chewable!" And all the while he is standing there telling us "no, this is good for you, trust me. It will make things better." Now, don't get me wrong. Most of the time I am that bratty little child who doesn't want to take his medicine. Sometimes I'd much rather that everything be easy and simple. I am astounded at our Heavenly Father's patience with all of us. I'm also very aware with that imagery that, if we would just accept his will, things would go so much easier and quickly. The trick is discerning the medicine from everything else.

Ooohh, pancakes and nutella...... That sounds delicious. I think I'll be gaining weight pretty fast when I get home. 

I don't think you are really in much of a place to send me stuff right now mom :o) (according to my dictionary, that is how French people make smiley faces). 
Ok, didn't have much time today. 
Love you all, have fun!
Elder Christensen

June 29, 2013

Hi everyone,
Haha you never give me advance notice on when you are leaving for pageant. I hope the trip is fun! Tell Cameron that I hope he feels better soon. I've never really had to travel while sick, but I can't imagine it being any fun. At least being in a motor-home is better than a car. 

I didn't get to watch the broadcast, but I heard some of the details. I'm assuming that I won't see any changes from that while I am on my mission. While a fair number of young people here do have email and even some facebook, the odds of it being a good contacting or communicating method are extremely small. I'd rather just get 2000 CFA extra phone credit every month so I'm not stressed about wasting credit when I don't understand what a person is saying.

Bummer that I missed Grandpa's birthday party. I bet that was one of the last times for so many in the family to gather together. I'd ask for pics, but I'm guessing you left them all back home. I'll see them some other time. 

The heat has not been bad at all here lately. Mostly because of the rainy season. Although it hasn't been rainy this last week. Just cool. I think it should pick back up again a bit this week though. Otherwise we may have a bit of a problem on our hands. No water also means no power.

Well, this was another week in the crazy office. First of all, we had a meeting with some people from Accra (church travel, distribution). Because of that meeting, I accidentally missed my interview with President! I ended up having that yesterday. Even though I see him most days, it was still nice to have an interview. Unfortunately, he didn't have any helpful advice about what I should do about coming home for school. I still need to figure out what I want to do about that. 

This week had a lot of interesting sights, sounds, peoples, and tastes. Probably the most memorable were; a hunchback, oreos, corn on the cob, ROOT BEER FLOAT, and starbursts. Okay, most of those were just tastes. I think I might have gained a pound back. I did get the other "package" mom, it came through just fine. I gave the banana muffin mix to Sister Semken, she is going to make them in her oven. 

Updates on babies and marriages and stuff like that is always interesting. I've only heard about one of my friends getting married, and that was about a year ago. It'll be interesting to come home one day and see what actually all happened while I was gone. 

General teaching this week has been pretty good. We've worked a lot recently with recent converts and less-active members. I've been very impressed with the branche's efforts to involve our recent converts, they are all receiving callings and being asked to give talks in sacrament meeting. 

I had an incredible little miracle this week. It starts out with an appointment falling through. Because we didn't really have anyone else to see in the neighborhood, we did some door-to-door. It turns out we were in a heavy Muslim neighborhood. That didn't work terribly well. We decided to walk a block or two and try again. We decided to try a certain door. They invited us directly inside and had us sit down. When we started introducing ourselves, the man said "yeah I know you guys, the missionaries used to come here all the time." Upon further questioning, he mentioned that his two children were even baptized in the church. This struck a chord. We had those children come in. I was the one that baptized those children almost a year ago back when I was still in Gbedjromede (since I was already baptizing that day, the assistants had me baptize their candidates as well). Eventually the children had stopped coming to church, and by the time I entered the area we had no idea where they lived or how to contact them. I cannot believe that we (and by that I do mean in part I) found them by accident. So we have an appointment set for Monday, we will see what happens!
Good luck for the rest of the trip! I hope you all get super cool parts in the pageant! To everyone that reads the blog, happy fourth of july! 

Elder Christensen

June 22, 2013

I am well,
African life is crazy, like always.
The office is pretty good, we're having fun.
Yes, I had another crazy week. There isn't any other kind.
I got the Ensign you sent! Thank you! I love getting that. After the October conference I started putting Conference talks in my scriptures as cross references. It's been an interesting addition to my studies. It definitely helps me keep me fresh with the conference talks. We still haven't received the Liahona as a mission yet, although Area offices promises we will be getting them soon. I also got the ward newsletter, which was cool. Don't forget to send in my and Jacob's bits before you head out to pageant!

This week was finally one of those weeks were I got to see some little miracles. Some of them were mission related, and some of them office. For the mission, we had a mother and daughter show up to church randomly last week, and they absolutely loved it. We hadn't even been able to teach them in 2 weeks due to them having moving troubles, but they just decided to come. It helped them out so much, they really felt the Spirit and softened their hearts. The daughter hadn't really taken any of this seriously before, but when we went to see them on Wednesday, she brought by herself that she wants to be baptized!

Another little miracle was getting the June Liahonas. They are really good! I love being able to read that. 
On the mission office side, we had some important little miracles. Like me going back over flight plans that we had already confirmed 3 times... And finding that the travel coordinator had randomly changed one Elder's final destination. He would have been 400 km from home, going through some of the dangerous parts of Nigeria. We also were able to get 2 branches officially approved from Salt Lake this week, which normally would have taken 2 months. That was a miracle that we really needed, now we can get to work on getting them buildings. Elder Semken was so pleased with that, he took us out to dinner. I can now say that I've eaten Italian food in Africa. The menu was absolutely useless though, I could translate for the most part but I still had no idea what I was ordering, I blame lack of eating Italian food before the mission.

Teaching is still going pretty good. We are seeing some people really progress. Others have had painful setbacks. Our Nigerian investigator that came to church for two months straight has now dropped off the face of the earth. We can't find him, he doesn't answer the phone, and he stopped coming to church. 

We had another baptism today. This time I got to baptize! The first time I've actually been in the fount since August I think. Romario was super ready. The Spirit was super strong. I think it about knocked the socks off of him, he got his witness is all I can really say. It was good because his mother was able to come and watch, and she's hasn't been open to us in the past. I'm hoping he can talk her into coming to see his confirmation too. That young man is going on a mission some day. And I am going to be so proud.  
My personal study this week has been super cool. I have a testimony that if you take notes, you get more inspiration. I made a real push this week to write a lot more notes, and boy did it come through! I had everything from Priesthood to obedience. I've started a little side project where I'm charting all of the uses of Isaiah in the Book of Mormon and looking to see why it was quoted. I'm finding that that helps me a lot to understand those chapters. I also had a really interesting thought about living up to expectations. I've noticed that people usually live up to the expectations that others have for them. Or, to be more specific, they expectations they think others have for them. I've noticed that in myself over my mission, and looking back, I've seen that effect on lots of other missionaries. This got me thinking about our Heavenly Father's expectations for us, and how he communicates them to us. I think I understand a bit better now a lot of the things that get said in General Conference. It also explains to me why pessimism doesn't work as a church policy. It is also one of the reasons why being an example is so powerful of a motivator. I'm still not done pondering over all of this, it's going to take a long time. 

I think that that will be a good theme for the cast team. Make sure that you have something about the great I AM, even Jesus Christ. I think it would be appropriate. Are you leaving for pageant this week? I remember last year you surprised me. Will you still be going to Nauvoo and Kirtland? 

Love you all, have fun!
Elder Christensen

PS, I found out why my photos are all so low resolution. I've been turning my flash off since I got here. I hate flash. But I turned it back on over the last two weeks, and I'm noticing a difference.
PSS a couple of people that I knew back in Fidjrosse swear that I've gotten taller since then. I don't think it's true, but like 20 people have told me this week that I'm looking super "choco" these days (technically is short for chocolate, but really is like spiffy).  Who knows.