Monday, December 30, 2013

On the Move ... First Transfer!

December 30, 2013

Monday has quickly become our favorite day of the week as that is the day we get an email from Ethan! For his entire mission thus far, since he's been in Texas, his emails have arrived anywhere between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., so I have that in the back of my mind as I go throughout the day. It's always SO great to hear from him and hear how he's doing! And sometimes receive photos as well. So, today, when we hadn't heard from Ethan by about 2 p.m., that was curious. Then 3 p.m. passed, then 4 p.m. passed...moving a little past "curious" to "concerning" (to this mom, anyway). A little bit after 5 p.m., we finally heard from him! His companion had been pretty sick all day and Ethan was working with the mission office on getting him to the doctor, helping to take care of him, etc., thus the delay. (We hope all is going well!) In his email, Ethan shared the news that he's being transferred -- moving tomorrow, actually. He's going to be living and working in Flour Bluff, Texas, in the Corpus Christi area. It's about three hours from where he's been serving in McAllen since July 15th. He's been in the same area and ward for the past six months, and it will be difficult for him to leave the people he's come to love. This is part of the life of an LDS Missionary. New adventures and experiences await, and new people to love and serve! How fitting for the new year. He said he's really excited that he'll still be in a bike area: "YES -- bike areas are the best, I love them -- and it helps me not blow up from the food, ha-ha!" Lots of great cooks in the Texas McAllen Mission who are so kind to feed the missionaries!

Here's a map of where Elder Christiansen will be living and working now -- Flour Bluff is just south of the Naval Station:

Here's Ethan's letter, December 30, 2013 -- he's referring to our Christmas skype call (so awesome!); a visit after Christmas from our dear friends, the Biens, from West Lafayette; and the MIT: Mormon Invitational Tournament (basketball), that Andrew played in over the holidays:

December 30, 2013

Hey y’all!

Yea it was super awesome talking to y’all too! Sorry I'm on so late; Elder Merica has been super sick so I've been talking to Sister Maluenda all day getting him to the doctor and stuff. Also I got the call on Sunday morning and I am getting transferred up to Corpus Christi! I can't believe it. I've been about 10 minutes away from Mexico for six months, and now I’m going to almost the top of the mission! It was sad saying goodbye to all the members I have gotten close to, but it's just a part of the mission. My new area is called Flour Bluff and I heard it's on an island, but that might not be true. I have no idea. I’m excited though! Other than that nothing really too big has happened this week. We don't have a lot of time to email today. On New Year’s Eve we all come in at 6 p.m. and we are going to be watching either Mulan or Finding Nemo, so I’m way excited for that! Oh, and I saw that play at a pizza place were Auburn beat Alabama on the field goal attempt…what!?!...I couldn't believe what I was seeing, that was crazy! But it's all good. That's cool about the frijoles (ha-ha that's beans in Spanish and I’m talking about the Biens). That's cool about the MIT, too. I love you guys so much family!

Elder Christiansen

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas Skype!

December 25, 2013

At 5:00 p.m. today, we were getting a very exciting Christmas gift -- our skype call with Elder Christiansen! Doug, Andrew and I had a wonderful day together and we all were so looking forward to 5 o'clock!

We tested the computer connection, skyped from our computers in different rooms, and set up the iPad to record the Skype. We tested where to sit so Ethan would be able to see all three of us, and we would be able to see him -- arranging chairs so we could fit in the height and width of the computer screen and still be able to record. Quite the logistical and technological situation!

We were "go for launch" at 4:30 p.m. and counting down. Elder Christiansen was going to be skyping from a church member's home. We had so many questions we wanted to ask him, and we were so looking forward to "seeing" him!

The ring, the connection, and there he was! We could see his face, sort of back-lit by a lamp in the room; he was skyping from the basement weight room, and we had 45 minutes to visit. There were three missionaries after Ethan waiting to use the computer to skype with their families, too.

After we got the lighting figured out on his end, we could see his face. He looked great!!!

Here are a few highlights from the conversation:

  • Good news -- Ethan hasn't been really homesick: "I've been too busy!" 
  • He loves riding his bike every day, and kicks off his morning with 75 push-ups.
  • The night before, at Christmas Eve dinner at the Bishop's house, he ate a tiny but powerfully hot pepper and within seconds he was sweating, crying, nose running, gasping, and gulping down water! The only relief came from rushing outside and throwing up in the yard. Good times, I'm sure! (This was actually the first thing he told us while we were trying to get the light adjusted so we could see him. Hilarious!)
  • He loves the wonderful Mexican food, even likes salad now, and also was glad he hadn't been served soup that's made from the face and intestines of a cow.
  • He absolutely loves the people he's met -- so warm and friendly.
  • He's learned the importance of setting goals to help get things accomplished. Wonderful!
  • He loves his mission president, Presidente Maluenda, and appreciates that he always tells the missionaries to enjoy every moment of their missions.
  • Playing basketball is his favorite activity after all the chores are done on "P-day" (preparation day -- grocery shopping, laundry, cleaning the apartment, etc. -- oh, and writing to family and friends). :)
  • He is so thankful and happy to be serving a mission, and recommends everyone read something out of the Book of Mormon every day -- "I'm blown away by how much power that book has."
  • He is thankful for the many friends who have written to him!
  • He ended our call by sharing his feelings about Jesus Christ, and his testimony of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ -- all in Spanish. It was beautiful! We couldn't understand a thing, but could feel his spirit and sincerity. It was lovely. 

Favorite Christmas gift for our whole family! I haven't gone back to watch the recording yet -- giving the actual conversation time to wander around in my memory first. I'll watch it sometime between now and Mother's Day, when we get to skype again. Can't wait!! :)