Sunday, August 14, 2016


#1 & 2-The sisters once again caught off guard
#3- Our district with our matching mission shirts!
#4- Flashing the 'serbski sam' which is basically like a serbian national pride sign that looks like a gang sign, but its patriotic so HA its okay :) if you really wanna hear the story behind it, you can ask me, or i'll say something about it next week. Or you all can look it up on the internet, cuz you can do that haha.
#5- Me next to a Tesla we saw on our temple walk. Basically one of the coolest, sleekest cars ever, and by far my favorite car ever. 
#6- Sister Brooklyn Downs, who was in my ward at BYU. She's going to Denmark.
#7- Got some new Serbian nametags, with my last name spelled right (haha its serbian, see if you can tell the difference)
#8- Us with our teacher Sestra Watts. She got back like 4 months ago, and then became a teacher pretty quick so she's a great teacher.
#9- My companion before his haircut. He needed it. Bad. haha.​

Week 9!-Faith, one crazy skype, and miracles

​This week was incredible! I can't wait to get out of here, but I can't believe they're sending us out! At some point I guess it just felt like we would stay here forever, and I just accepted that, but now we'll be in the real world in just a few days! I can't tell you how much I don't feel ready for this, but we're just gonna jump off the edge, and hope that we survive. Speaking of which, that's the first thing in the subject line.

This week we've had so many incredible moments where I just felt the spirit tell me what I needed to hear so that I could be better. The one theme that's been repeated over and over is that we need faith, and through faith we can do anything. Elder Anderson came to speak to us on Tuesday, and that really made me think about what I might be lacking faith in, and how I can trust the Lord to fulfill those weaknesses, and make me able to help other people that I run into! 

As for our crazy skype, we got to skype a memeber in Serbia yesterday, which was interesting, especially since we've been learning 90% Croatian, and 10% Serbian, so we just did our best to talk in what Serbian we knew, and then just filled in the rest with Croatian, since they're pretty similar. She was a very interesting and funny lady. She told us she played the harmonica, and my companion asked her to play a song for us, and she did! So we were serenaded by a harmonica, and everyone else in the room could hear it! it was quite funny. And then she told us to translate a verse we had just read into english, because she was learning english and wanted to hear it, but neither of us could do it, so I just read it out of my scriptures haha. Definitely a memorable experience.

OK, back to spiritual stuff. The last thing I'd like to talk about today is miracles. Miracles are things that we believe in, and they're pretty incredible. As I've been learning about faith, and had the opportunity to watch Ephraim's Rescue on Sunday, I saw that any miracle is only dependent on one thing, and that is faith. Every miracle in Ephraim's Rescue, every miracle in the life of Jesus Christ, and every miracle in our lives, have been and will be predicated on our faith. When we don't believe or have faith, that limits our ability to receive miracles. It's an incredible principle and I can't wait to apply it when I get out there!!!

This is it, my last email from the US! If I drop off the map for a few months, it might be because I'm in the middle of the Balkan states with no way to access internet so here goes! Just kidding I highly doubt that will happen, but hey ya never know. My P-Day should be Mondays, so y'all will have to wait a whole 9 days for another update! But it's also 8 hours ahead, so mornings there will be late nights here. I just wanna leave my testimony that I know this church is true, and it has brought me so much joy and happiness. Because of that joy, I want to share it with others, and that's what I will be doing for the next (almost) 2 years. I also know that a PROPHET of God called me to this crazy place that I will come to love! If that wasn't the case, there's no way in the world I would do this. But because I know that God has asked this of me, there is no way in the world I cannot do this. Doviđenja Amerika!

Starjesina Christensen (I got too lazy to change the keyboard settings :P)

P.S. If anyone wants to tell me everything ever about the Olympics I would love you forever :D

Saturday, August 6, 2016


Pictures from the week!
1. Sister Tucker's last day :( She's one of our teachers and we miss her already
2. Our class and district (minus me) doing what we usually do-study for dayzzz. Plus the water bottle, front and center :)​

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Week 8-Travel plans

​TRAVEL PLANS!!!! we got those yesterday and have had a hard time focusing since then because we've been so excited to get out of this town! oh goodness! the gospel is true!

One thing I've learned this week is how much we need to be humble to accept the Lord's guidance. I was called out a few times this week in places I could improve, and sometimes I was willing and ready to change, other times I was willing and ready to make excuses, and not change. 

We studied Moroni 7 in class this week and I absolutely loved it! if you have time this week, read that! It's an incredible chapter and it answered a number of questions I had. try this: write down a question and then search for an answer. Use topical guide and keywords and all that, but find everything you can, and then write a little summary of what you learned as your answer. The scriptures can answer any question you have!

Look up the song "prayer of the children". It's beautiful, amazing, sad, and heartbreaking. I love it so much and wish I could listen to it right now! 

If you ever want to change something in your life, whether it's habits, desires, or even your nature, ask God to change it. If it is a righteous desire, and will make you more like him, He will ALWAYS help. Just believe that he will, and give your best effort, and ask him how, and he will help. 

On a week from Tuesday, we will be in ZAGREB CROATIA! I'll send a little document that details how to send packages and letters next week. But to be honest, they really don't want you to send packages, and if you do I'll have to pay some sum of money just to pick it up so that's no bueno :( but I think normal letters are fine! But I could be wrong!

Thanks as always for your prayers and support!

Elder Christensen

Saturday, July 30, 2016


#1- a few elders lost a bet, so they shaved their legs. Heres the before picture.
#2 - Starsi Peck thinks he can take selfies
#3 - Our pioneer day picture. Blue and white for days. We totally didn't even plan this.
#4 - I was ready for that
#5 - My companion, and the Slovenes. We're all going to the same mission, but they're speaking Slovenian, and we'll speak everything else :P
#6 - An after picture of the shaved legs.​

Week 7-Shaved legs, being humbled, and cool Croatian (MTC)

Alright here goes! The final countdown *cue music*
Next week we will have our flight plans, and the end will be in sight! 

This week has been incredible and I have absolutely loved it! On Sunday we had the Nashville Tribute Band come for our Pioneer Day devotional which was fantastic and I loved it! I would highly recommend listening to their songs wherever you can find them! We also got to listen to a talk by elder Bednar called "Listening to the Spirit" or something like that. Also incredible and I highly recommend it.

This gospel is so true! I've been loving it, and learning so much every day! This week we seem to have focused a lot on the plan of salvation. I would invite you all to study and ponder the plan of salvation, and what it means for us. It is quite incredible, and it really is the 'why' of the gospel. Put simply, the restoration is the 'how', the plan of salvation is the 'why', the gospel of Jesus Christ is the 'what', and the commandments are the 'so what' or the 'what now' of the gospel. It all fits together wonderfully and I absolutely know that it is true. 

I've had some pretty humbling days, and it definitely hasn't all been easy, but little by little, day by day, I can see that I am being changed and made into the person Heavenly Father is making me into. And He can do the same for you too, if you let Him. 

One cool experience we had this week was Skyping a native from Croatia! He was super cool and knew English, so he helped us with some words we didn't know in Croatian (since we have to teach in Croatian, no English allowed) and he was just so amazing! It was incredible to hear his testimony, and just to let him know that we could be seeing him again in three weeks! He's the branch president in Zagreb, so if I ever serve there, I'll probably get to know him really well :) 

Oh here's something fun in Croatian-the verb imati means to have and you conjugate it to say I have, you have we have, etc. Then you just add a negation to say the negative of that, so the word nemaš = 'you do not have'. #hrvatski #croatian. 5 letters = 4 words. Love this language! Oh also we got 4 new Bulgarian elders this week added to our zone!

Mislim to je to (I think that is that) other than pictures! Loving it here and thanks for all your prayers!

Starješina Christensen

WEEK 6-I love studying, but not grammar, Elder Bednar, and one small prayer

I'm starting to lose track of the weeks, and they go by faster and faster every day. 

Don't know if I've said this before, but Sundays here are fantastic! We get so much time just to study the gospel, and I honestly love it! We focused our studies on chapter 4 in preach my gospel: how to recognize and understand the spirit. There is just so much that I found that I could improve on, and I'm sure if I studied again, I would find even more. I've found that if we want to know more about something, and put in honest effort, Heavenly Father will bless us with what we want. It's an amazing thing to see, and I challenge each of you to do that for just one topic or idea, no matter how big or small. It works!

We also had a surprise visit from Elder Bednar on Sunday, and he taught us so much! He had a ginormous Q&A session, and I learned so much not only from what he said, but how he said it, and how concerned he was for the individual question that was asked, and how concerned he was that he had answered the concern. I learned so much about his character, and what I can do to be more like that. 

We got our countdown going this week! We're down to 24 or 25 days left I think!

Also ran, quite literally into an elder going to Argentina who ran a 9:12 2-mile! Needless to say I'm trying to keep up, and if anyone breaks any records now, it'll be him, but it's been great to have someone to run with everyday who pushes me!

Oh my companion, Elder James, told me on Thursday or Friday this week that he heard me talking in half Croatian/half English in my sleep! So I've been dreaming in Croatian, but I don't remember it haha!

Now for my one small prayer. On Friday I wasn't doing so great. Just really negative and not feeling the spirit at all. We got to lunch, and I started eating, but I realized I hadn't said a prayer. So I stopped, bowed my head, and just said, really quickly how I was feeling, and shared with my Heavenly Father what I was feeling, not necessarily with words. I just asked if I could have a better rest of the day because it was not fun. And as soon as I finished I got this reassuring feeling that I just needed to keep on trying, and that He was pleased with my efforts. I didn't think much of it, and went back to eating. I realized at the end of the day, that it had been pretty great, amazing, and wonderful since that point, and I was just so grateful for that. I know that Heavenly Father answers prayers, and he can change us so much if we let Him!

Sorry no pictures this week! Will try to get an especial lot next!

As always, love you all, and thanks for your letters, thoughts, and especially prayers! They are felt, and they do help!
Starješina Christensen

Saturday, July 16, 2016

WEEK 5 Photos

#1: Starsi (Elder) Pace, one of the new Slovaks, and I. I got to host him last week, so that was cool.
#2: The zone. I could name most of these people, but it will suffice to say we're all going to eastern Europe. It's like a really weird family but not. haha.
#3: српски (serpski (serbian)) name tag
#4: Both of them​

Week 5-New name tags, less English than I thought possible, and talking LESS in lessons!

Let's see here, last Saturday night I finished memorizing our purpose, the first vision, the baptism invitation, and moroni 10:4-5, so as a reward we got our cyrillic nametags! pictures forthcoming! They sound the same when we say them, but it's fun to see peoples faces when they have no idea how to say our names :) Also ordered a mission t-shirt which looks pretty sweet. Also was feeling a little antsy and had some extra time, so we went to a room, and I played piano for about 20 minutes and the rest of the day I felt so much better and excited and ready to take on the language and anything else, so maybe that's a sign I need to get back to that more. 

On Sunday we had the opportunity to watch the Joseph Smith movie and it was incredible. Felt the Spirit so strong! I know Joseph Smith was a prophet and that through him, everything in the gospel was restored! I'm so grateful for his example and drive to follow and become like Jesus Christ. If you have the time, look up the song "brother I'll follow you" by Nashville Tribute Band, or "Apostles" by the same. Both are incredible. Or "The Impossible Dream" from the musical "Man of la Mancha". All are incredible and fantastic in the light of the gospel. 

We've been learning so much about not only the language, but about the gospel (keep in mind, in Croatian) and also how to become better teachers. One of the biggest things has been to ask more questions, and see how the person we are teaching is feeling. It also means that we don't talk the whole time, and that our investigator can help us understand what they are thinking. It also invites the spirit like crazy.

Tuesday we had a pretty intense class that taught us most of the things in that last paragraph. Our teachers also told us that from now on, if we talked to them in English during class, they wouldn't understand us. So we basically can't use any English during class, and it's forcing us to speak it a lot more. Anyways, that's all I've got for now. Thanks for all your letters and support and prayers! Until next week, doviđenja!
Старешиа Крисшћенсен​​​​​​

Thursday, July 14, 2016

WEEK 4 Pictures

#1: The sisters Losee and Yergensen caught slightly unawares. The are the only two sisters in the MTC learning Croatian, so theres only 4 missionaries in our class, and thats our entire district. It's pretty sweet.
#2: The Bulgarians, Croatians, and Slovenes. Elder James and I are 3rd and 4th from the left on the top, all the other elders are Bulgarians. The two sisters on the far left are the other Croatians, and the three sisters on the far right are the Slovenians. This plus the Polish and new Czechs and Slovaks is our zone.
#3: Good old Starsi Murley. One of the two best Canadians in the zone.
#4: The Bulgarian, Croatian, and Czech Elders. From left to right, Elders Maurice, Clark (both Bulgarian), Murley (now in Czech), Evtimov (Bulgaria), James and I (Croatian), Archibald, and Wright (More Bulgarian)
#5: The temple
#6: One of the last pics with starsi Murley before he left
#7: The Czechs and Bulgarians that left on Monday & Tuesday​

Week 4-Croatian grammar, new missionaries in the zone, and teaching by the Spirit

​This week was wonderful as always! We've been learning lots, teaching more, and growing more and more both spiritually and in the language every day. I realize I haven't talked much about the language. It's pretty cool and I love learning more about it. In Croatian, there are no articles, because the word endings dictate that for you, hence why Russian people when they learn english always say "I want to go to store" instead of "I want to go to THE store" haha. Also we spend a lot of our time on grammar in Croatian, so that is great. I'm actually learning a fair amount about English grammar, cuz I always hated that, and never learned it, so now that's coming back to bite me. 

At the end of last week we each had individual coaching sessions with our teachers, and I had a long talk about what I am doing, and what I could do better, and in the end, we decided that I was trying to do too much, and cram too much study time into not enough hours in the day, and it was tiring me out both physically and mentally because it was just not possible to do everything that I wanted to do. 

On this Monday we saw Elder Murley off, and he is now in the Czech Republic. He was the last one in our zone to leave that was here when we got here. So now we are the oldest missionaries in the zone, and we got some new Czech and Slovak missionaries on Wednesday! We also had a couple really great lessons on Monday, and I could feel the gift of tongues bringing words I didn't know I knew to use to help answer our investigators questions. Even if my grammar was awful, the right words and ideas were there, and it felt wonderful. 

Wednesday was another wonderful learning experience! We were teaching Almir again, and when we were preparing we had no idea what to teach, and I was feeling really exhausted mentally and just done, but we still had to teach. I said a quick prayer to myself while I was failing at focusing and preparing our lesson that we would be able to have the Spirit and to help Almir with his needs. When we went into the lesson, I still had nothing, but at one point I felt a voice in my head, not my own, tell me that we should read a chapter in the book of Mormon aloud with our investigator. I thought that was a good idea, but had no idea what we should read, so I shrugged it off. About 30 seconds later, my companion asked if we could read 2 Nephi 31 aloud with him, and then we did, and even though I had no idea what it was saying, I could feel the spirit working on him. Afterwards we were able to ask him how he felt and what he thought about what we had read. He said he felt peace and comfort as we read, but that he didn't understand very much of it. I was then able to let him know that that was the spirit, in messy grammar Croatian, and in our very next visit, he accepted the challenge to be baptized! 

Anyways, that's all for now! Thanks again for all your letters, prayers, and love! I love feeling the support from that every day and it lifts me up beyond any of my own capacities and makes me more than I can be! 

Elder/Starješina Christensen

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

WEEK 3 Pictures

#1&2: Oh yeah! We went to BYU campus for lunch last Sunday! So I took some pictures with my old apartment. Also, Elder Bird got in the first one :P
#3 Starsi Murley (left) and moj suradnic (my companion-right), Elder James. Elder Murley leaves Monday for the Czeck Republic.
#4 The Bulgarian Elders​

MTC Week 3-Consecrating ourselves, hosting, and Canada day

This week, as always has been quite the roller coaster. Only now, the roller coaster sees the ups and the downs at least twice a day! Starting with last Sunday, we had a few incredible devotionals that helped me see what I can improve on and be better at. Elder Holland's talk "Open you mouth" was incredible and I am still reeling from how much I learned about being an effective missionary, as well as how much the people we run into every day need the message we have, but don't know how much they need it. 

Monday I got a package that wasn't for me, so that was a bit exciting, and then a downer. That was an odd thing, going back to the mailroom and returning someone elses package. If you want, you can ask my mom for more on this story :)

Tuesday we taught a couple lessons, and one of them didn't go so well and I blamed myself as well as my companion for some of what didn't go wrong, which was kinda unfair cuz much of it was out of our control. Needless to say that drove the Spirit away, so it was harder to learn until I changed my attitude. We also talked as a district after the Tuesday devotional, and I realized that we need to consecrate ourselves, and do as much as possible so that we can be as effective as possible, and when we finally collapse in exhaustion, then we must ask the Savior for help to continue, and he will grant it. 

Wednesday we hosted some new missionaries, so that was a neat experience. Kinda sad seeing all the parents crying (well not all of dad seemed pretty excited haha) as they dropped their missionaries off. Not much other than normal stuff happened on Thursday.

**The good stuff** (not that everything else isn't good) :P
Friday was Canada day! Starsi Murley (picture forthcoming) is from Canada so he was excited. He had a 6-foot wide Canadian flag hanging up in his classroom and we may or may not have 'borrowed' it and put it in our classroom. We also taught our second investigator, Jadranka (pronounced ya-dran-ka) for the second time. She was much more receptive and willing to do things and I think we will get her to pray and go to church this week. If you don't know, our 'investigators are just our teachers, but they are role-playing as real people that they met and know on the mission. Jadranka is a Catholic Croatian, but doesn't read her bible, and only prays when it's a memorized prayer from her prayer book. Our teachers told us that Catholics, Muslims, and Orthodox all do this in the mission, so that will be a big thing, getting people to pray from the heart and ask God questions and get real answers. That has also made me examine my own prayers, and whether or not I am asking for things that I know I will receive, or if I ask for something I do not believe he will give me. I learned as we taught Almir, our other investigator (a Bosnian Muslim{also one of our teachers but whaterver}) that he must have faith before he receives an answer. He was telling us that he prayed but did not receive an answer, so we were trying to help him with that. It really taught me that we need to have so much faith though, or we won't receive answers or help. And if we have greater faith, we can ask for more things in faith, and then we can receive more, and then we can help people more! That's really the whole purpose. If our prayers are wholly selfish, we will never see the full potential until we ask what we can do to help others. As we learned about spiritual gifts more this week (especially the gift of tongues) I found that all gifts are always for the benefit of others, just like the priesthood. And in fact, I wonder if spiritual gifts are just an extension of that same priesthood. Anyways, enough rambling. I know this church is true and am loving the work. Thank you all for your letters and encouragement and I can't wait to hear from you all!

Starješina Christensen

Week 2 pictures

The power of prayer, new mission presidents, and becoming like Christ MTC (WEEK 2)

Hello everybody! I'm loving it here at the MTC! Also I DO have pictures today, so that's good! If you don't want to read this whole thing that's all good, just skip to the end. haha. 

Starting with last Saturday, our first P-day was great! We got everything set, had some time to chill with our zone, and got to go to the temple! It was pretty great especially the temple. If you can, go to the temple this week and enjoy the blessings that come from that! I know that doing so will help you so much! We also had class, and our teachers did one-on-one interviews with us in different rooms, just to see how we were doing. It was super weird because as soon as we sat down, they went from Croatian to ALL ENGLISH. It was funny just because they refuse to speak more than 2 straight words of English in our classroom.

The cafeteria is shut down for MPS (Mission president Seminar), but it's all good cuz that means that the first presidency and all of the twelve are here! It kinda hit me yesterday and that was pretty great. Oh, also on Monday, we went to the gym for the first time. They put up records for different things on the wall, including the mile. The record is 4:45 right now. Their mistake for putting that there :P give it 6 weeks and I'll be in shape haha. We also had another lesson with Almir, which went well right up until the end, and we didn't know how to 'end' our lesson, so my companion just said 'vidimo se' which means 'see you later'. Our investigator was like 'now?!' and we were both like 'da!' (yes). It was funny but also a good learning experience. As we had more lessons with our investigator, it was great to see him read, pray, and come to understand more and more what he was reading. 

We've had some pretty intense studying too. I counted, and we spend 50+ scheduled hours a week studying, with about 20 of that being with teachers there, and the rest on our own. It can get pretty tiring. Anyways, midway through the week I was worried me and my companion wouldn't be able to stay focused and awake, so when we got back to residence, I gave one of the most sincere prayers I've given in a while because I was so worried. We had exercise right after that, and for the rest of that day and since then, I've felt a little bit more urgency and purpose studying which has kept me going longer than I know I could have on my own. I know that God will bless us with whatever we ask of him in faith, and that we can be blessed so much because He loves us so much. There's a great quote I heard this week from either Elder Holland or Bednar that said, "We can ask the Lord for what we want, or we can have more." I know that that is true, and that our Heavenly Father can bless us with anything we are in need of. 

We also set some goals, and that has happened about a dozen times this week, so that's great. Our goals of words per day, phrases per day, scriptures memorized (in hrvatski) and having no script in our lessons have really helped me improve and perform to my best ability. If you're feeling like you're hitting a plateau, set some small goals, and then some medium goals, and just keep moving up. Eventually, you'll look back, and realize you've done something you thought was impossible! 

Because of MPS, we got to meet with a new mission president & his wife who will soon be in the New Mexico Albuquerque mission. If anyone gets called there, they are amazing and I could feel his love for us, even just meeting and talking with him for an hour or two. But really, all of the mission presidents here are so amazing! We say hi whenever we see them, and we can just feel their love for us. It really feels like they love us as if we are their own children, which is what I am sure most parents would want for their missionaries :) I can't wait to meet my mission president when we fly to Croatia. It's also wonderful to have such a great zone! These guys are all going to eastern Europe (Poland, Bulgaria, Slovenia, and Czeck to be exact) and there is such a feeling of love and brotherhood (well sisterhood too I guess for the sisters :P would that make it a familyship? familyhood? i dunno) But basically, we're just a great family and a home away from home. Oh that reminds me, one day as me and my companion were walking back from class, I said something about heading home (talking about the dorm), but as soon as I said that we looked at each other and were both just like, nope this isn't home. Even though it might feel like it, we're just here for a little bit. Kind of like how we're on this earth for a little bit, before we go back to our real home. It's so amazing to think what that return home will feel like. 

Another time I was burnt out studying, and having trouble staying awake, and I just told my companion, 'lets go for a walk' cuz he was tired too. We brought cards with us to learn some words while we were out, but as I reflected on that moment, I so wish that I had thought to pray for help. I know that Heavenly Father would have helped us, but I didn't ask, so we couldn't receive. Hopefully the next time that happens, I'll recognize it and know what to do. 

OK, that's all! If you've skipped all of this here is THE END. I know that this church is true, and I am loving working for my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The biggest goal I had before the mission was probably to do a full Ironman someday, but now, my greatest goal is to become like my Savior. If you can, look up the talk by Elder Bednar titled "The Character of Christ". It really inspired me to think about my life, and the actions I take, and whether I am striving to become more like the Savior. I know that as we do that, and ask Him for help, He will lift us up higher than we ever could go on our own.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Hello from the inside, living in the rapids, and the gift of tongues

The first few days of the MTC are behind me, and I'm starting to get our schedule down. The first day was crazy, and had no down time at all. They took me to my room, dropped off bags, picked up language materials, and then went straight to class, where we stayed for 3 hours, with no English. We have three teachers-Sestra Tucker, Sestra Vulcrepa, and Sestra Watts. It wasn't too bad because I had learned a bit from Pimsleur (Thanks Aunt LaNae!), but it was still a bit crazy. They just kept repeating things over and over and checking for understanding. Later that night, we had some very interesting experiences. We were in groups of about 20, and moved around different rooms, and each room had a different investigator in it (they spoke English so that part wasn't hard). As we got to know each investigator, asked questions, and shared testimony, the moderator would pause us, ask a few probing questions, give us time to discuss, and then resume our roleplay. The investigators weren't real, but honestly, it didn't really matter. The testimonies we shared were real, and our desire to help them was real too so that's all that really matters. It was also hard to see, that no matter what we did, the investigators never committed to anything. It was hard to see, and it really forced me to examine myself and my shortcomings to find better ways to teach and help people we come in contact with. Anyways, that was day 1. 

Thursday was probably the hardest day so far. We had another class with Sestra Tucker, but we didn't really learn any Croatian. The entire class was just her introducing us to Almir, our first investigator, and then giving us instructions to start preparing for the lesson. Still little to no Engleski, but somehow we understood. We had more studying in the afternoon, but we just sat in silence for 3 hours in a room, trying to understand what we were looking at. That was especially hard because at that point I felt like I wasn't going anywhere, and no matter how many times I repeated Moroni 10:4 in Croatian, I still didn't have it memorized. But, after dinner, we had a wonderful meeting with our branch presidency, which really lifted my spirits, and helped me remember why I'm here. One thing our branch president said really hit me. He talked about living in the shallows. Basically, on a river rafting trip, in the rapids, you're moving fast and have to act fast in order to navigate the rapids, but you move a large distance very quickly. However, when you are in the shallows, you don't have to act at all, but you don't go anywhere. Being at the MTC is like living in the rapids all the time, and he encouraged us to jump in, and don't hold back. 

Friday was probably the best day. We had some great study sessions, lessons with Sestra Watts and Vulcrepa (side note, Vulcrepa is actually Croatian for either Wolf-tail or pulled turnip. We called her that and she thought it was funny), and then we taught our first lesson to Almir! We had a script with what we wanted to say, as well as a few different pages open to common phrases and other things we might want to ask him. All Croatian. No English. Welcome to day 3. We went through our script pretty quick, with just one big glitch. We asked him "Will you read the Mormonova Knijga (Book of Mormon), and then we *think* he said that he doesn't have one and then asked us if we had one. We didn't, so that hurt. Won't make that mistake again. Anyways, once we were through the script, we didn't know what to do, until he asked us a couple questions. Even though we didn't understand him, we tried to answer what we thought he asked. Then I started making stuff up on the fly, grabbing one or two words from about 20 different phrases that I had in front of me to say something to fill the silence. Right towards the end, I was thinking we needed to set up another appointment with him, so I tried to ask him when we could meet with him again, but I actually said, "Why can we see you again?" He seemed pretty confused, and then I realized what I had said, and corrected it. Then we set up another appointment for (I think) Monday night. We went back to our classroom and laughed about our mess-ups. Then sister Vulcrepa had an amazing lesson (still all in Croatian) about the gift of tongues. She talked about how we can be worthy of the gift of tongues. She had us study a few things in PMG and the scriptures on our own. At one point she asked one of us to read D&C 90:11. I read it, and nothing has every hit me so hard. It basically says that everyone will have the chance to hear the Gospel in their own language, from the mouths of those ordained unto this power. One of the steps to receiving the gift of tongues was to believe in the gift of tongues. I wasn't sure if I did, especially after the rotten day of studying I had had before, but after reading that scripture, I knew it had to be true. But the lesson wasn't over. She kept talking in all Croatian for about 30 more minutes. And I understood so much more of it! I tried to listen and understand as many words as I could, but I didn't understand anything I didn't already know. But somehow, the phrases and sentences were crystal clear as to what they meant. At one point my companion, Starjesina James asked me what she said, and I translated perfectly a string of words I know for a fact I don't know yet. The gift of tongues is real and I'm so glad I got a taste of it last night. The Gospel is true, and I'm so glad I get to share it! I'm loving it here even though it is hard and I'm tired! No pictures this week, sorry. (Although its only been three days, so there's nothing exciting I would take a picture of). Love you all, and can't wait to hear from you!

Starjesina (Star-yesh-ee-nah) Christensen
P.S. My companion reminds me of my cousin, Elder Barnes in Wisconsin!

P.P.S. Credit to Elder Thompson for 'hello from the inside' couldn't resist :)

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

My talk

I’m heading out for 2-years to the Adriatic North Mission, a beautiful area between Greece and Italy. Some days I feel I can do anything, and am thinking along the lines of, “challenge accepted” and “bring it on” in regards to my mission. Other days I wonder, “Whose idea was this? To send me, a scrawny goof from Idaho there?”, until I remember that this is a call from the Lord. I don’t know why Heavenly Father chose me to serve there, but I know that He has many reasons, and I can’t wait to find out why. I know that any assignment that comes from the Lord is inspired, and that he has a plan for me. Furthermore, whatever happens, I know that God will provide a way for me to do what he has commanded.

I want to begin by sharing a letter I received many years ago from a dear friend. It reads:

I just had to write to tell you how much I love you and care for you. Yesterday, I saw you walking and laughing with your friends; I hoped that soon you'd want Me to walk along with you, too.
So, I painted you a sunset to close your day and whispered a cool breeze to refresh you. I waited and you never called. I just kept on loving you.
As I watched you fall asleep last night, I wanted so much to touch you. I spilled moonlight onto your face- trickling down your cheeks as so many tears have. You didn't even think of me; I wanted so much to comfort you.
The next day I exploded a brilliant sunrise into a glorious morning for you. But you woke up late and rushed off to work- you didn't even notice. My sky became cloudy and My tears were the rain.
I love you. Oh, if you'd only listen. I really love you. I try to say it in the quiet of the green meadow and in the blue sky.
The wind whispers My love throughout the treetops and spills it into the vibrant colors of the flowers. I shout it to you in the thunder of the great waterfalls and compose love songs for birds to sing for you.
I warm you with the clothing of My sunshine and perfume the air with nature's sweet scent. My love for you is deeper than the ocean and greater than any need in your heart. If you'd only realize how I care. I died just for you.
My Dad sends His love. I want you to meet Him. He cares, too. Fathers are just that way. So please call Me soon. No matter how long it takes, I'll wait because I love you.

Your Friend,
Jesus Christ

I love the Savior, and I know that he loves each and every one of us. Because of Him, we are never alone. This beautiful way the Savior’s love is portrayed here makes me feel the words of the primary songs, “I Feel my Savior’s Love”, “Beautiful Savior”, and “How Great Thou Art” so much more deeply. Such feelings, I feel, can only be truly expressed fully through music. Many times, when I was feeling worthless or beaten or just not good enough, the words “Heavenly Father, are you really there? And do you hear and answer every child’s prayer?” these words came to my mind, almost so subtly that I didn’t notice. And then, time and time again, I felt my Savior’s love, in all the world around me, and his spirit warmed my heart. Having the Savior in my life means everything to me, and I hope that He means everything to you. In Moses 1:39, it reads, for behold this is my work and my glory, to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. To me, Christ is everything. To Christ, we are everything.

As a missionary, our purpose is to invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. And since “every member a missionary”, that is really the purpose for all of us. Essentially, this is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the holy ghost, and enduring to the end. First, faith in Jesus Christ, which is the basis for any testimony we have. By believing in him, we find that we want to follow his teachings, which leads us to repentance. We then repent so that we can follow Christ. In order to fully follow Christ, we must be baptized, as he was, and then receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, to guide us to follow his example as closely as we can. Finally, we must endure to the end. It would be remiss of me if I didn’t include some sort of running analogy, and I feel it fits very well here. When in a long-distance race, I spend most of my time in that race in a state where my body is on the edges of how fast I can run, without it hurting. Towards the end of a race, when going for a final sprint, all pretenses of staying in that zone, and try and push through the pain for my final “kick.” For me, I feel this final sprint is not a part of “enduring” however. In the gospel, we must endure to the end. Heavenly Father knows exactly where our edges are, and what we need to do to become the best that we can be. But this ‘pace’ that Heavenly Father asks of us is not a slow walk that does not challenge us, nor is it a sprint that will leave us collapsed and unable to stand, but a solid run, at the edge of our limits, where we will learn and grow the most. Enduring to the end is not easy, but with our Heavenly Father’s guidance, we can all make it back to him.

Brothers and sisters, I know this church is true. To echo the words of Paul in Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” I know that this is God’s church on this earth, and that through this gospel, we can return to live with our father in heaven again. Time and time again, I have put this gospel to the test. And I testify, as Joseph Smith did, “after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives!” I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, and that through Him, the priesthood was restored, and that Jesus Christ lives, and I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen