Tuesday, November 19, 2013

November 18, 2013 - My life = Oreo races, exchanges, and complete awkwardness!!‏

Hola Familia!!
How are all of you doing this week? I love you all so much!!! I love and miss you guys greatly:) You are in my thoughts and prayers:) I hope everything is going well back in Utah. I feel like I'm a broken record reporting how I am doing each week. Haha. I have had a hard week with missing home more and feeling discouraged at times. It has been a really hard week:) one of the hardest yet i think:) I guess that's to be expected as I'm still figuring out how to adjust and stuff! But all is well!! Don't worry about me:) I will be just fine!! The Lord is on my side:) In a little over a month, I will get to talk to you guys!!! yay!!

So on Wednesday I had the funnest dinner appointment yet. We had dinner with the H's and as part of that they have a tradition where they do what's called an oreo race! They give each participant a double stuffed oreo and a glass of milk. When they say go you have to eat the oreo without your hands and drink the glass of milk. The object is to be the first one to finish. Once you swallow everything you have to stand up and yoddle. haha:) it was quite the sight! Guess who won?? ME!! haha I guess you could say that I am a pro at oreo races. I finished well ahead of everyone else there. But.. I got really sick because of that:) my stomach hurt so bad. I made it about 10 minutes before it all decided to come back up:) so that was pretty awkward and embarrassing because we were still at their house when this happened! So yep, I threw up at a dinner appointment:) Yikes!! it was pretty fun though and totally worth it! so watch out.. we are doing an oreo race when i get home! so be prepared to lose:)

We had exchanges on Friday with the Sister Training leader (Sister Vance) and her companion Sister Sommers. It was really great. I was kind of nervous at first because I didn't know how it would all work out but I love exchanges now!! It was great to work with both of them. Sister Vance is at the end of her mission. She actualy flies home next week. I learned so much from her and the example that she set. She is having a really difficult time because she doesn't want to leave. I'll be honest, inside i thought that she was crazy! I would give anything to be done! haha:) but it put things into perspective for me and showed me that I need to really value my time that I have to serve the Lord so completely right now:) Sister Sommers has only been here for 6 weeks longer than me. So when I was with her for the other half of the day, we basically just had a therapy session!! haha it was great! It was so weird because we are like the same person! it was weird! It was such a tender mercy though because she was able to comfort me and talk through everything that I was feeling. I am so lucky to serve with such great sisters. I love them dearly!

So life as a missionary is just completely awkward!! I won't go into detail but basically every moment of my life right now is just awkward!! I'm learning to embrace the awkwardness though!:) haha

It is freezing here!!! luckily it warmed up quite a bit these last couple of days:) i am so not ready for the winter to hit:)

Our investigator that i was telling you about, C, is no longer interested in meeting with us. It was really sad and discouraging because he was doing so well. He had read the Book of Mormon twice in a two week period and was progressing well and then all of the sudden he just decided that it wasn't for him. Keep him in your prayers:)

Oh! We went to a Gingerbread activity on thursday night for relief society to make a gingerbread house for the trail center. They do a big gingerbread display every year and it was cool to be a part of it! I hope that you liked the picture! Someone in the Millard ward is very into missionaries and anyway that she can serve them. So she saw us there and took a picture to send to our families! It was so great and i was so happy that someone was looking out for me and sent you that:) I hope you liked it:) haha just ignore my tired eyes:) thats how they look in all the pictures now:) haha i just remind myself that i can have a 36 hour nap when i get home to make up for all of the sleep lost on the mission:) haha

Derrick I'm excited to hear about how Sadies went!!! I love you!! Sorry I haven't written much to you..:) expect a letter this week!

For your commitment this week, I want you guys to basically continue off of the one i gave you last week. I want you all to look at your prayers and find one way that you can make them more meaningful. You can pick the same thing that you did last week or think of a new one:) I know that as you make your prayers more meaningful, you will be blessed:) Heavenly Father hears your prayers:) He knows who you are, what you are going through, ect. As you talk with Him and learn to Listen, your will for yourself will start to allign to His will for you:) He loves you and He knows whats best for you! Trust Him!

I was reading the talk You can do it now by Elder Uchtdorf:) from the most recent general conference :) you should all read it if you haven't yet:) He basically says that it doesn't matter how many times you fall down, what matters is that you get back up and keep moving forward. "You are stronger than you realize. You are more capable than you can imagine. You can do it now!" I know that as you turn to the Lord and use the atonement daily, you will recieve the strength to do the things that you think you can't do. With the Lord, all things are possible!

I LOVE YOU ALL!! I look forward to hearing from you guys and talking with you next week! I love each of you so much!! Thank you for the support and encouragement that you guys show me:) I couldn't do it without you:)  

Sister Christensen

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

November 12, 2013 - Living The Dream

Hey family! I love you all so much! how are you all doing?:) I am so thankful for the wonderful family that I have back at home:) you guys are the greatest and such a strength to me! thank you for the great examples you set and for sacrificing time to write me some uplifting letters:) they help so much!

I'm sorry I wasn't able to email yesterday with Veterans Day. All of the libraries were closed. Hopefully you guys weren't too worried because of that! I'll try to warn you guys in the future if I remember stuff like that:)

I'm kind of stumped on what to write about:) hopefully as I start typing I'll remember some things so that this letter isn't too terribly boring:) haha

On Saturday, we went to Alex Simpson's blessing. She had turned 8 years old and has such a special spirit. She was born with a brain stem, but no brain. I'm not sure on the specifics of how that works though. She wasn't able to get baptized, but she has no physical way to sin. So they decided to give her a Priesthood blessing to her instead. It was a very neat thing to be a part of. She has a very special spirit and I am so thankful that I was able to meet her and be a part of such a spiritual thing.

Speaking of Priesthood blessings, I had someone in the ward give me a blessing on Sunday. I needed one really bad so I shouldn't have put it off for so long, I just wasn't sure who to ask because I'm not really that close with anyone here. But I asked Brother Cooper to and it was a really cool experience. I haven't felt the spirit as strongly in a while as I did in that moment. There were some really neat blessings promised in there and I knew that Heavenly Father was very mindful of me and my circumstances.  I feel much better now that I have had that blessing and I am so thankful for the priesthood and the blessings we can receive from it. Don't take advantage or for granted the priesthood that you have in our home. You will recognize once you are out in the real world, what a blessing that is. I really miss having that influence in my home that I could turn to whenever I needed it. So take advantage of that:) I know dad will appreciate that:)

Oh! on a silly note.. I had the most awkward member dinner on sunday! It was horrible! The dad had a huge beard, the mom was breastfeeding the baby at the table the whole time, their boy threw up everywhere, and they wouldn't talk to us:) haha we literally asked so many questions and tried to get them to talk to us but it was no use! they would reply with one word answers at the most. So it was really awkward and what a struggle! haha:)

We  met with and taught the T's again this past week. They are doing well. He has now successfully gone a week without smoking and drinking, she will have hit her 90 day mark for that this month. M has a court date coming up this month. It was supposed to be last week but it got postponed. She feels very strongly that things will work out the way they should though. She has such great faith. She is 20 weeks pregnant now and so He is trying to prepare himself so that he can give the baby blessing when it comes. They are also making plans to go to the temple and be sealed as a family in a year from now. So that is really exciting! They are doing great! I'm so happy and humbled that I am able to help them on their journey:)  

One thing that I have been focusing on this week is more meaningful prayer. If we want to be successful as missionaries or life in general, we need to be having meaningful prayer. I think one reason why some of our prayers aren't answered the way we'd like, is because we are praying for the wrong things and asking the wrong questions. So one thing that I have been doing is I take a few minutes while I'm kneeling before I start to pray and I try to recognize and feel what the spirit is prompting me to pray for. It has been very interesting as I have been doing this, to see how my prayers have changed and the things that I pray for change. I would challenge you to take a look at your prayers and find one way that you could make them more meaningful. The blessings are great when you do this.

I bought a Nebraska Huskers Football T shirt:) so now im officially a true Nebraskan:) haha I loved the picture of Ashley at the Utah game:) she is filling my position as the #1 fan pretty well while im away:)

Thank you for the package that I received this past week and the beautiful cards from the kids! I am writing you guys thank you cards for all of that so expect them towards the end of this week sometime:) thank you for the thoughtful gifts:) I loved them all! You guys are great! I am so thankful for the support and encouragement that you show towards me:)

C.S lewis also wrote: "A silly idea is current that good people do not know what temptation means. This is an obvious lie. Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is.. You find out the strength of a wind by trying to walk against it, not by lying down." The prophet Joseph Smith related from his own experience, "The nearer a person approaches the Lord, a greater power will be manifested by the adversary to prevent the accomplishment of His purposes". Satan is real. He knows our potential and what we can do. He will do everything He can to get you anyway He can. But we can put Him in his place:) We have a loving Father in Heaven and Christ on our side and when we turn to them, they will strengthen us to withstand Satan and his attempts. When life gets too hard to stand.. kneel:) I know that as we turn to our Savior and Father in Heaven in everything, we will receive the strength and comfort to get through, and OVERCOME, EVERYTHING!!! I know that that is true:) I have seen it especially over the last month:)

All of our appointments with our investigators fell through.. so I don't have any cool stories with that.. but hopefully I will next week!!! Oh and don't worry about me:) I have my hard points but I'm not going to quit:) I just keep swimming:) I will be fine:)

I love you all so much!!
Sister Erica Lynn Christensen:)

Monday, November 4, 2013

November 4,2013

Hey family!! I love you guys so much! how are you all doing?:) I love and miss you guys like crazy but things are starting to get better:) I have been strengthened and continue to be strengthened more and more every day by the Savior. Being on a mission has definitely been the hardest thing I have ever done up to this point in my life, but looking back on the time that I have been here, I am so thankful for the things that I have had to go through and the things that I am still going through right now because they have brought me so close to my Savior. I would not have been able to come on a mission in the first place and I most definitely wouldn't be here still if it weren't for my Savior. Life is hard, but when we rely completely on the Savior, He strengthens us and comforts us and carries us through those hard times. I am thankful for the testimony of the Atonement and the role of the Savior in my life. The things that I have learned since I have been on a mission are very important to me and I couldn't have learned these lessons anywhere else as quick as you learn them here. Being on a mission is the greatest, hardest, most amazing thing anyone could ever do. I am thankful that I chose to serve and that I am sticking with it even through the hard times. My Savior is my closest friend and with Him, we can do anything.
So I realized that I haven't shared much about Omaha with you guys. Let me tell you, It's gorgeous in the fall! There are so many trees everywhere! You look down the streets and it is covered with trees:) They started changing colors around the time that I got here:) I love it. All of the leaves are falling now because it is getting so cold and winter is approaching. Yikes. I am so not ready for that. We ran out of miles in our mission this last week so we were mostly on foot the whole time. It is getting really cold here. The wind is what kills you. Apparently it is supposed to be a really bad winter. I hope not! Those boots have been great though and have kept my feet nice and toasty:) So thank you mom and dad for helping me find the perfect things!
Apparently the Huskers won their game on Saturday! We were outside walking around when the game was almost over and all of the sudden, I thought we were under attack or something crazy! Everyone ran outside screaming and going nuts! Nebraskans are very dedicated to their football team!! It is the number 1 religion here in Omaha:) haha
I can't remember what Ive shared in the past emails so im really sorry if I repeat myself! Every Tuesday we go on team ups with Sister Cooper (the primary president) for a couple of hours. We go around and visit with less active primary kids and their families and anyone else that we feel like we need to. She is the kindest and craziest person I've ever met. Yes mom, she is an even crazier driver than you if you can believe that:) She has gone through red lights and speeds and is crazy but we have angels around us missionaries so we haven't died yet! haha:) she always takes us out for lunch or dinner as well and it is so great:) there are some great members here in this area so I am so lucky:)
Oh!! Also on Tuesday we met a possible potential investigator!! YAY!! I was so excited! We were initially going to meet a less active member in the ward but she wasn't home. but.. her niece is now living with her and she answered the door. she is 15 years old and very open to what we were telling her. She told us that we could come back and start teaching her what we believe! We stopped by yesterday but she wasn't home. But we are going to keep trying and I feel like good things are going to come from this! I am so excited about that!
We also have another potential investigator. He is progressing really well even if he won't admit it:) His name is C and He is 17 years old. He is a Senior in High School and he is very strong Catholic. He has read the Book of Mormon completely through twice now!! and we have only met with him twice. He says he is only interested in learning about it and he will never convert, but.. I think the Lord has other plans for him:)
On Wednesday we had zone conference which was really great:) You will never believe this but guess what!?!? I sang in front of 1/3 of the missionaries in this mission! ok so it wasn't just me.. it was myself and 3 other sister missionaries that did the musical number but still.. can you believe that? I sang in front of people! missionaries none the less:) haha:) We sang All Creatures of our God and King and the spirit was very strong:) It was a cool experience. President Weston talked a lot about prayer. We need to have meaningful prayer everyday if we are going to make it through our missions. He challenged us to say a vocal personal prayer everyday. I would challenge you to do the same:) It has made a big difference:) A big part of prayer is learning to seek the Lords will for you and being humble and willing to do it. It is really hard sometimes but as we humble ourselves and seek His will for us, He can use us to help bring about great things for Him.
Halloween is really weird on a mission:) we had to go in my 6 unless we were with a member. luckily we were with the Sheleys, an older couple in the ward for dinner, and so we were able to talk and teach them:) It was nice:) We went in at 7:30 and did everything we needed to for the next day with planning and cleaning and whatnot.. so we were able to go to bed at 9:15! I was in Heaven.
THANK YOU for the packages that you sent this week!!!! I loved the food and everything that you sent and I am so thankful for it! It made me so happy!!! thank you for the letters that you sent too! I loved those pictures and cards that you kids sent me:) thank you so much for helping your older sister out:) your encouraging words keep me going:) I am so thankful for the great family that I have. I couldn't do it without you guys:)
I love Sundays:) It is always great when you can partake of the Sacrament and have a fast and testimony meeting. We get to share our testimonies every fast sunday. The Bishop challenged every missionary that serves in our ward to do that. So I feel kinda bad because they always have to listen to 4 testimonies before they can share theirs. But the spirit is always strong and it is a great way to invite the spirit. So I am thankful for the opportunity.
What day is thanksgiving? also if you can find a 2013 calendar anywhere I would love that:) Jacob that is so cool that you rode that pony!! I love the pictures! Ryan I will send you a letter with something ive learned from scriptures! I am so proud of you for reading that and taking on my challenge:) Emily you are doing awesome with reading the scriptures too! I love each of you so much and pray for you daily! I hope you are all doing well:) Know that I love you very much!
Good news! Ive made it 1 month now since I first left:) 1 month down:) yay! It feels like forever and a day:) hopefully time starts moving quicker soon:) haha :) love you all and talk to you next week!
Sister Erica Lynn Christensen