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.