Monday, December 22, 2014

Putting on the "Sonrisa"... and Christmas Zone Conference


Man, pretty hard week this past week. Some setbacks with the work, and Elder Chacin and I got sick so we both have bad headaches, coughs, sore throats, runny noses, so that hasn’t been too fun, either. But, it's all good though. It’s been a good learning experience to just put on the sonrisa (“smile”) sometimes even when the going gets tough. Congrats on Andrew getting into those schools!! (I'd probably be a little upset if he didn’t get into them because he should get accepted to all of them, but that's so good!). Oh yea and I got all of the Christmas boxes so those were fun to open (“ya los abri...”) they were so cool! I loved everyone's note to me that was probably my favorite part! And the Texas Rangers calendar, that thing is sick!!!!!! Dad’s getting his colon checked, what is he 50? :) That's cool about everyone being home for the break tell everyone that I say hi! Yea I'm having an interview with Presidente next month so that's when I’ll talk to him about my form for school. So, we are going to be Skyping at the Fuentes’ house and it will be around 4-ish I think, but have the computer ready from like 3 to 5-ish just in case because I think we’re having dinner as well, not sure which is first. Also, we watched the slideshow with everyone’s little kid pictures at zone conference and it was awesome! (See Ethan's below.) Everyone laughed super hard when mine came up! It was super cool though, thanks for doing that! All is going well though I can't complain – this is the best time of the year to be a missionary. I love it! I’ll see y’all on Thursday!

Feliz Navidad,
Elder Christiansen

Elder Christiansen in the red striped tie, to his left is current companion
Elder Chacin, and to his right is former companion, Elder Brian!

Ethan, age 8

Sister Maluenda put together a slide show for each Zone Conference Christmas party that featured each missionary as a child, then a picture of them with their families. The missionaries had a special Christmas lunch where they received gifts and she took many pictures and shared with the parents and families -- wonderful!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Baptisms ... and Getting in the Holiday Spirit!


Man, so this past week was crazy!!! And also super, super stressful but all worth it in the end because the Lopez family and half of the Sanots family got baptized yesterday!! It was such a great experience to see them all in white!! It all came right down to the wire though and so that is what made it so stressful. It was good, though, and I think the biggest thing I learned from it all is that it is good to thank our Heavenly Father for the trials and challenges that we face in our lives everyday. I know that as we can realize that as we are obedient to the commandments, then challenges and problems are just there to stretch us and make us grow even more than we though we could. So that was something I have started doing and it has really helped me to have a better perspective and attitude/outlook on life. It has also helped me to realize and count the many blessings that the Lord has given me. It's been a good week.

Elder Christiansen and Elder Chacin.

"There are the elders I live with. Elder Chacin is on the right
wearing the shaving cream Santa beard!"

One funny thing that happened this week was Elder Chacin (Cha-seen) and I were driving and we were just laughing and talking or whatever and then he was like, "Elder, It would be so much fun to watch like a kids movie with you like...umm...Kung-Fu Panda or something like that, I bet you just laugh the whole time." And then I was like man, Elder, you have no idea just wait for Frozen. O yea that's the movie we are going to watch for New Year's Eve – Frozen. It was pretty funny though. Also, no need to shed sad mama tears because the tree got here on Monday just like you said it would!!! And so I guess we'll just wait for the next one to come in, too! Life is good down here in South Texas!! I love it!! Man, it's about time Ensworth switched the exam schedule, that sounds great. Hahaha, that's so funny when I was reading your email I was like, "Man, did Dad just move to New York or what, you're there all the time, give him a break" haha, good work, Dad! Also for Christmas we are going to be Skyping from the Fuentes’ house. Still not really sure what time but I'll let you know next week. Also, I talked to the bros and we want to just get 2 four-man apartments that are next door to each other. I also got a box from the youth in our ward that had some good stuff in it. Socks, candy, shampoo and body wash (which was good because I ran out of both of those around Halloween and haven't gotten around to buying more since…no, just kidding!). Oh, also are there any youth who know Spanish? Because one of the cards I got was in Spanish and it was awesome.

All is well though and I’m going to send some more pictures, too. Oh, and also, can you do me a quick favor? Could you send me an ornament that has all of the pro Chicago sports teams on it? If you can't find one of those, then one that is just the Chicago Bulls? It's for a member. Sending you a picture of Elder Chacin and me with the Santos family (Mom, son, and daughter closest to Elder Chacin) and the Lopez family (Mom, son, and daughter that are closer to me) at their baptism. I love y’all so much and I hope y’all have a great Christmas!!!

Con Amor,
Elder Christiansen

Monday, December 8, 2014

"Love, Peace, and Tamales"

Hola Familia,

All is well down here in Hidalgo. My new companion is Elder Chacin (say like: Cha-seen) and he is a super good missionary, we hit it off really well. He is from Venezuela so that's pretty cool, too. He has been on his mission for almost a year so he knows what he's doing and we have been tearing it up. We are teaching a lot of different people right now so that is good, too.

The Festival of Lights down here is pretty crazy. It is PACKED every night down here so you can't really do anything at the Church because the paring lot gets taken up. It has been good though and it has given us an opportunity to talk to a lot of people. Have y’all seen the “He is the Gift” video yet? It's super good and the church gave us a bunch of pass-along cards especially designed for the video so we have been using those as well.

Life is all good though and I couldn't love my mission any more! It truly is the best thing in the whole world. I love the people, Texas, the food (probably too much...) and everything that's come with the job. I especially love the Savior and I am so grateful for everything that He did for us – to help us, save us, and show us how we need to act and behave in order to return and live with him again. 

Amor, paz, y tamales (“love, peace, and tamales”)
Elder Christiansen

"My companion took this of me in a goofy M&M's Christmas tie."

Monday, December 1, 2014

Hidalgo for the Holidays ... and "He Is the Gift"


So we got the transfer call yesterday and...I will be staying! And Elder Thornton will be getting transferred on Tuesday but we still don't know to where yet. I am pretty happy that I am staying because we have a lot going on in our area right now so that's exciting. I don’t know who my new companion will be. It's been a pretty crazy week – I don’t really know where to begin. There was no turkey bowl game here :( but we had five meal appointments on Thanksgiving and four of them were in a row! We had one at 12:00, then 3:00, 4:00, 5:30, and 7:00 and after that I was just toast, oh my gosh, I don't know if I have ever been that full, it was a ton of food. It was all so good though – I love Thanksgiving food now, haha. It sounds like it was super fun at home, too, with everyone visiting. The pictures look great!

The Santos family is doing great and they came to church yesterday, too! They are learning a lot and we had a really good lesson with the mom about the Word of Wisdom and I helped her throw all her cigarros away. It was pretty cool. My feet are doing a lot better, thanks for the prayers! I know it's pretty crazy, right?

To answer your question, for Christmas I would like a 2015 Texas Rangers baseball calendar and the new iPhone when I get home. One of the members showed me his iPhone 6 and my mind was literally blown, I couldn’t even believe it. And he hooked up my thumbprint to it and that was sick, too. Oh, ok, a question: is Frozen a big thing? Seemingly out of nowhere, I feel like everything that Wal-mart sells has Frozen characters on it and I don't even know what it is – haha. That's cool about the Benson baby as well! I’m sending some pictures home, too.

I love y’all so much and I love my mission a ton!!! Have y’all watched the "He Is the Gift" video" the Church produced? It is AWESOME – share it on social media, show it in Seminary, it’s so cool. South Texas is the best! Look up the Hidalgo Festival of Lights online and you'll see what's happening down here :) All of it is in my area.

Con mucho amor,
Elder Christiansen

Monday, November 24, 2014

Awesome Meetings and Mission Tour


Man, what a great week! Ok, to start off Elder and Sister Foster were just unbelievable – it was amazing. The spirit was so strong as he spoke with us and it was a very powerful meeting. Some of the topics he talked about were: the power of prayer, the importance of our missions, working with members, knowing that we are children of God, and a few others, and it was really, really good. Then he had a small meeting with all of us leaders about how to lead and how to love the people we serve so that part was great, too. Oh that's cool you saw the picture!

This is a photo of all the missionaries currently serving in the Hidalgo Zone
of the Texas McAllen Mission (TMM). There are 10 zones in the TMM
that include about 190 missionaries (140 elders, and 50 sisters).
Elder Christiansen is standing, third from right.
Seated: President and Sister Maluenda, and Sister and Elder Foster.

What? Clay has a girlfriend, what is up with that?!?!?! :) That's good to know that everyone is doing well though. Yes!! The missionaries had a baptism in our ward, that's fantastic!!! What's the boy's name? Andrew, go to some lessons with the missionaries at his house. Man, that sounds like there are a lot of fun Thanksgiving plans. I kind of wish they had a turkey bowl game here, but I don't think it's happening. Most of the members in our area are either going back to Mexico because their kids are out of school, or they are just taking it easy because Thanksgiving isn't a Mexican holiday, so it should be pretty chill. As of right now we just have one dinner appointment set up, but we'll probably end up with three or four. That's cool about Ensworth and MBA in the finals – hope we win! Send lots of pictures next week from all of Thanksgiving. So this week is the last week of the transfer so next Monday I'll know if I am staying or if I am leaving.

Right now we are actually teaching quite a few different families so it has been going great! One of them came to church yesterday for the first time and they really liked it. Oh, ok, so they have a huge super, super chubby, fat baby and all during church it was just getting passed around by all the members so they helped us out big time on that one, haha. The other two families we’re teaching didn’t come because one of them had sick kids (the Santos family), and the other family didn't come because they slept in. But we’re still working and teaching them. We teach the Santos family with their neighbors, so there are like 10-12 people there. And they all just love my laugh, like it's unbelievable. If I start laughing at something little, then they all just start laughing and then they can't stop. It's super funny.

All is well though and I am loving my time here down in South Texas. Can't believe it's already turkey time, but it's all good. Best of luck to everyone playing in the turkey bowl and hopefully there are no serous injuries.

Amor y paz (“love and peace”),
Elder Christiansen 

Monday, November 17, 2014

A Spiritual Feast ... and Freezing Cold!


I hope everyone is doing well back at home. Got the email and press release from Dad about the College Board, and congrats!! This past week was super good, man I learned so much! This past Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday we had meetings all day long with Presidente Maluenda, and they were amazing!! He talked a lot about obedience, becoming leaders the way the Lord wants us to be, faith, the power of prayer, goals and plans, doing things in the Lord's way, the desires of our hearts, and a lot of other stuff, and it was a spiritual feast for all three days! It was also a lot of fun because I got to see a lot of my buddies from around the mission – all the elders in Corpus and Laredo and Brownsville/Harlingen stayed in the McAllen area so it was a blast!

We also found a lot of people to teach this week and we found a lot of families, too! And because of that we had a lot of investigadores (“investigators”) at church yesterday so that made it more fun, too. Oh, it has also been FREEZING cold, oh my gosh, it was 55 the other day and it's 50 today and I'm wearing literally all of the winter clothes that I have, haha, I'm such a baby now when it comes to cold weather. Oh, and we got even better news too...we have mission tour this week!!!!! That's when a general authority comes in and we have meetings with him so he can teach and train us some more! The person coming in is Elder Bradley D. Foster, so I am really excited for that, too!

The mission is going really well and it is still such a blast – it never gets old, I love every minute of it and it just takes my breath away when I think about all the important things and lessons that I am learning out here. There is no other way I would have learned these things had I not decided to serve a mission. It's also incredibly scary how fast the time is going, but that's another story. There is nowhere in the whole world I would rather been than here in South Texas. Oh, ok so I’m telling you this and please, please don't get worried or anything, everything is fine and under control and I'm100% healthy – but in your prayers this week, specifically pray that my feet can get better. I got a blister or something like that for the first time in my life, and it's just taking a while to heal up. So, yea, please say special prayers for my feet, haha. I love y’all a ton!!

Con amor (“with love”),
Elder Christiansen

Monday, November 10, 2014

Having Charity for All Heavenly Father's Children


Man, what a week it was this past week, I don't even know where to begin. There was a family that was going to get baptized by some of the elders in my district so I went over to their house (the family's) on an exchange to do the baptismal interviews, and everything that could have gone wrong, went wrong. It was just one of those nights I guess. I'm not going to go too far into it, but it was just a mess. The boyfriend of the mom of the family they were teaching never wanted to listen to the elders, and then when I was there he ran out and just started yelling at us telling us to leave. It got pretty intense and since I was on an exchange with a younger elder, I started talking to the boyfriend and it was pretty intense, haha, like he was not happy at all. And then he called someone else and he gives me his phone and the person on the line was yelling at me saying that she's calling the cops and a bunch of other stuff and that she hates us and to never come back, it was pretty crazy. But after my right-handed haymaker nailed his left eye he stopped talking to us and went inside (haha, no, no, no, I’m totally kidding, obviously I didn't hit him, I would never do that, haha). But it was pretty chaotic though. And then I went back over to a different house looking for the family Sunday morning to see if they were coming to church, and while I was talking to the mom, one of her sisters came out and just went off and was yelling at us, too, so it was a "Yell at Elder Christiansen" type of week. It was all good though, it really helped me learn to have a good attitude and to have charity towards all of Heavenly Father's children.

Life is so, so good though and I love being a full-time missionary. I am also super excited because we're having 3-day training again (it's 3 days in a row of Presidente training and helping all of the zone and district leaders in the mission so we can in turn train the missionaries we are in charge of). It should be super fun though, because I loved the last one. I love y’all so much!

I love y’all,
Elder Christiansen

Monday, November 3, 2014

Surprise Text and Photo from South Texas!

Love technology! I got a text message on my phone last night with the photo below attached. What a fun surprise! It was sent by a member in the Hidalgo area, and Ethan and his companion were celebrating a birthday with her family. Such a sweet and thoughtful gesture! We continue to be so thankful for the kind members in South Texas who take such wonderful care of the missionaries! 


Yay, y’all got the photo! It was the Fuentes family's nieto (“grandson”) who was having his birthday party. He was turning 4. It was super fun and we just talked to la Hermana Arrembide the whole time. After the photo she wanted to send it to our mamas, so I was like, ok great!! Sounds like it's been a crazy week though! Good luck Andrew on college stuff! And good job Dad for being a beast at seminario! (teaching “seminary”).

Elder Christiansen is on the back row, on the right.
Looks like it was a fun Disney birthday party!

This week has been good, hard but good. We haven’t had really anyone we have been steadily teaching so it's been a bit of a struggle. It has been a good learning experience though. Life is going well, though and I am still really focused on my mission, even though I've been talking a little bit about college and my roommates and stuff like that. Haha – yep, the time sure is flying. I literally can't believe it! But that's why we have to take advantage of every moment to learn, grow, and help others to come unto to Christ because the time to go home is coming up pretty quickly. I love y’all a lot and thanks for all the support! Pray that we can find families to teach and baptize! I love y’all!!

Con amor (“with love”),
Elder Christiansen

Monday, October 27, 2014

World's Largest Killer Bee!


Cool, sounds like it was a fun week for everyone! That's so cool about Dad being the jefe (“chief”) at the College Board now! It sounds like Andrew is doing great at Ensworth, too, so that's cool tambien (“also”). One of the high schools in my area is the Tigers and their football field has blue turf, but they are really bad. Ok, so quick things for college:

I got an email today from Aaron and him, me, Jared, iDawg, Dirty Harry, Ty, Mason, and Chaka all want to room together when we get back for fall 2015. Mason, Chaka, and Ty won’t be back until winter 2016 though. Ok, yea, I’ll talk to Presidente about the form for BYU.

"It's the world's largest killer bee, right in Hidalgo!"

"And then there's me next to the bee. It's a random, giant statue in the middle of my area."

This week was pretty good, though. We had interviews with Presidente on Friday so that was awesome! He is a very, very inspired man! Yesterday we taught a blind guy and he came to church from his apartment and it was super awesome! If he can make it to church than any of us can, and there is no excuse! But then he told us he didn’t want to learn anymore but we cleaned his apartment and then he played the piano for us for a bit, which was amazing. All is well though and I’m loving my mission! I can't believe how fast it is going by but that's ok! I love y’all!! I’m sending home some pictures, too.

Con amor (“with love”),
Elder Christiansen

Monday, October 20, 2014

Staying in Hidalgo!


Ok so yea, I got my retainer and it fits great. I haven’t gotten my flu shot yet but we’re planning to go. And yes I got Ben and Karli's box and I loved it!!!

So I am staying in my area and so is Elder Thornton! My whole district is staying as well so nothing too crazy happened. This week has been good, though. We've had a hard time finding people to teach lately so we have been trying to improve on that and find people. Those are cool pictures of Andrew. He looks like he's gaining some weight though, haha. I finally got caught up on Conference talks as well this morning so that was good, too. They were all so good! Oh, ok, so one of the zone leaders had to go home to get some tests done because he has been kind of sick so that was pretty hard. He's a super good buddy of mine in the mission, I've served with him for like 7 or 8 transfers, so please pray that he gets better so he can come back. It sounds like y’all had fun in Utah that's cool. That's a cool story about Mrs. Mietchen and her mom meeting Preisdente Uchtdorf too, haha.

Nothing super crazy is happening down here, all is well. Life is good though and I am SO happy to be a missionary and to be having the wonderful experiences that I am having!!!

Paz y tranquilidad (“peace and tranquility”),
Elder Christiansen

Monday, October 13, 2014

Seeing "Meet the Mormons" ... and God Loves Us


So another great week serving the Lord! I'm glad y’all liked “Meet the Mormons” and actually we got to see it as well, and early! We watched it with all the missionaries in a chapel in McAllen on Tuesday morning and I absolutely loved it!!! (I actually really did like it, but it also might be due to the fact that I haven't seen a real movie since “Mulan” on New Year's Eve last year, haha). But I thought it was great! It's playing in a theater down here as well so a bunch of the members have gone to see it and they said that they really liked it. Yes please invite TONS of people to go watch it because it is a great movie to share about the church. Yea, I got a letter from Ms. Shockley and that was so nice, and I already wrote her back (crazy I know). It rained a bit this past week so that was good – it is still super hot and humid. I also got my retainer today as well so that was good. Also someone told me that there is an iPhone 6?!?!?! That's crazy!!!!! Man Andrew's watch tan looks just like mine!!!!!! And that's sick he's going out to BYU!! Did you find out any info. on when to register for classes and stuff? I can do that out here but I just need the dates because I heard another missionary talking about it.

Life is good down here in Hidalgo though, nothing too crazy has been going on. We've been teaching a couple different people but they aren't really progressing so we are hoping to find a lot of people to teach this week. Transfers are next week too so we’ll see what happens. I think I am going to stay but we’ll see. I hope all is well at home. I know that God loves us and that we can feel that love as we keep the commandments and do our best. The Book of Mormon is the word of God and I know that it was translated by Joseph Smith. I know that Joseph saw Our Heavenly Father and His son Jesus Christ in the Sacred Grove and that they came to him to answer his prayer. I know that the priesthood was restored, or brought back exactly the way it was so that way we can be with our loved ones forever and enjoy all of the blessings that come from the Atonement. I love the Lord. and I love y’all!!!!!!!

Con amor (“with love”),
Elder Christiansen

Monday, October 6, 2014

General Conference was Awesome!!

Muy buenas,

Man what a great week!! Conference was awesome! I also loved the talks in other languages (especialmente en espanol). Whenever it came on in Spanish we would all go to the other room and listen to it in Spanish live, it was sick! I only got to watch the first session on Saturday and then the two on Sunday because an elder in my district was sick so I went with him back to a missionary apartment close to the church so he could sleep and rest. It was a good experience even though I wasn’t watching conference because I was there for six hours while this elder was pretty much sleeping and I thought I was going to go crazy!! During this time I: read a ton of the New Testament, studied a map of the greater McAllen/Mission area, read a little book about cool missionary stories, looked at all the pictures in the gospel art book probably 3 or 4 times, did all the dishes in this apartment (it wasn’t ours because ours is farther away), re-organized the community food cupboard, took a 1 ½ hr nap, and then did a punch of push-ups, pull-ups, and curls with the weights they had. I was so bored!!!! It just made me want to go out and work super bad but it was pretty funny. I loved the conference sessions I did see though. Wow!!! (note: you can check out the talks from October 2014 General Conference here).

This was a pretty crazy week for me as well. I went on a super long exchange with an elder because I was doing some last-minute baptismal interviews and it was a blast. We had three food appointments in one day too, so that was fun as well. Yea, I'm not sure if we'll be able to watch that movie or not – probably not would be my guess but let me know how it goes! (He’s talking about the documentary: “Meet the Mormons.”) Yes, I am in the Hidalgo zone. Yes, we beat MBA!!!!!!!!!

Life is good though. I love having prophets and apostles to lead and guide us to do what's right in our lives. They don't make our decisions for us, but they help us to stay on the path and hold onto the iron rod. Also, not trying to be trunky, but I need you to look some things up for me: when does class registration start for summer term and when does the whole housing sign-up start up as well. (I can't believe I just said that but oh well). I love y'all so much and please keep spreading the gospel!!!!

Elder Christiansen

Monday, September 29, 2014

Stoked for Conference ... and Seeing the Ripped Pants

Muy buenas,

This past week was another fantastic week! It has rained a ton here and our car is running real tight on miles so we have had to bike everyday for the past week and a half or so and everyday we just get poured on – it’s really fun, though! Man, a new bishopric, no way?!?!?!?! You know you’re on your mission a long time though when a new bishopric comes in and you don't know any of them...pretty crazy, huh? Wow, Ensworth lost to McCallie? What?! Yea, I'll probably have the Marine cut for the rest of the mission at least, but who knows what will happen after (mullet maybe?!? jk). The food is still great and I love it so much. Yea, I told all the wolf pack how I ripped my pants and they all just loved it. They are all doing well.

Alex isn’t really progressing so that is sad but it's ok because we did a good job with him but we can’t force him, just invite. Oh, and we were at the Fuentes’ house the other day and el Hermano Fuentes told us that he finished reading the whole Book of Mormon!!!!!!!!!!! And he was only baptized a little over a month ago!!!! So that was pretty exciting. They are doing great and they love the gospel.

Hey, someone send some pictures of Andrew. I love y’all so much and get STOKED for conference this weekend, let’s go!!!!!!!! This is seriously like the best time of the year as a missionary, it can't get here any faster!!!!

Amor y paz (“love and peace”),
Elder Christiansen

"This is the picture of me and my torn pants. The orange that you see is my orange
Ensworth shorts; I had to put them on underneath to take the picture."

"And another!"

Monday, September 22, 2014

The Ripped Pants ... and Love the Scriptures


This week was just another great week to be a Texas McAllen Missionary! Life is good and it’s still so humid that it's actually rare if I am not sweating between the hours of 12-9. It's a blast though!

This past weekend was stake conference here and it was a lot of fun. I learned a lot of cool things. We also had zone conference this week as well and that was a blast, too. Presidente Maluenda started this new system to help us teach more effectively and use the scriptures more often. So everyday for 2 hours, aside from our studies, we are now doing role-plays, which help us practice to teach. Por ejemlpo (“for example”), I would be the missionary and Elder Thorton would be an investigador (“investigator”) and I would practice teaching him a lesson or something. So that's exciting and I'm looking forward to it. Alex who we’re teaching, is doing well. Just keep praying for him and for that miracle.

'If only this was our car!"

"The beautiful sunset in Hidalgo!"
Oh, ok, here is a funny story that happened this past week. So I went on an exchange with another elder in his area. And during the day we helped a women move some things out of her house down the street to her hijas (“daughter’s”) house. So there are a few of us missionaries there helping, and I squat down to pick up this box. And I don't know if I went down too fast or what, but right as I land in my squatting position I hear this huge tear. And I immediately pop back up and my face turns redder than a tomato because I had just ripped my pants! The tear was from a couple inches below where the zipper ends, all the way down and around to my belt loop on the backside. Just like a wide-open gaping hole – can you believe that?! Elder Renshaw and Elder Wright then just started dying laughing, too, because it was super funny. Helping with the move was the last thing we had planned for the day, so it wasn’t a problem because we just went home – but it was really funny. And no, I don’t need more pants because I still have 5 pairs that are doing just great.

The mission is great though I love all the incredible things I am learning. I love reading the scriptures each and every day because they make me happy and I feel better as I read them cada dia (“every day”). I love y’all!!!

Con amor (“with love”),
Elder Christiansen

Monday, September 15, 2014

Jesus Christ ... Our Perfect Example

Commentary from Ethan today -- getting a new retainer (his broke); congrats to Andrew on a student government election at school; congrats to 12-year-old cousin Nick, an amazing mogul skier who was invited to compete in a cool indoor tournament in England this week; and a shout out to the 'Dores for a win! I especially like his thoughts about Jesus Christ as a perfect example -- such a beautiful commentary. And love the flag ties!


Sounds like a great week! This week has been good as well! We are working with a boy named Alex – his family was already baptized, but he wasn’t at that time and now is slowly accepting the gospel so pray for him!

I went to the dentist today to get my new retainer (the dentist is actually a bishop up in Mission, TX, so that was cool). They took some impressions and he said he would call me when they are ready. Being a DL is great, I love my district they are just the best. I do not need anything I am doing great :) Nothing really too crazy happened this past week. There were a few huge storms so that was wild and there has been tons of flooding, too. Our car was more like a boat – haha. We all wore ties with the American flag for 9/11 as a sign of respect. 
"With Elder Young, one of my roommates,
wearing our American flag ties on 9/11."

That's super cool about Andrew!! Glad I’ll be there to hear him speak at graduation!! And a Vandy win – awesome! That's really cool about Nick, too, like wow...can't wait to watch him in the Olympics. The Fuentes family is doing great as well – they love church and the gospel so that's good (and they feed us a lot – also good :) 

I know that Jesus Christ is our perfect example and if we follow Him we will always be led to more happiness and peace in life, no matter what circumstances or challenges we are facing. I got a letter from Papa Clair that I really liked. It talked a little about Uncle Jay's funeral and then about the Atonement. Oh, and you have to tell Silvia and Janet this: I LOVE moley, oh my goodness it is just the best dish! I had it like 4 or 5 times this week at different people's houses, and it was amazing every time. I can't believe it is starting to be fall now, either! All is well though, I can't complain. I love y’all so much!!

Con amor (“with love”),
Elder Christiansen

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

An Encounter with U.S. Border Patrol

Elder Christiansen's adventures of the past week. He is loving his mission! He's also serving in an area of many contrasts, challenges, and conflicts, and he is seeing and experiencing life on the U.S. Mexico Border in unique ways. Thanks for your continued prayers for Ethan, and missionaries who serve all over the world. He loves the Savior and recommends a video for everyone to watch -- see below. Also -- some photos that made him and us smile! Ethan's buddy from freshman year, Ian Nobmann, currently an LDS missionary in Argentina, exploring the area wearing an Ensworth shirt Ethan gave him.


Another fantastic week! And transfers! Elder Thorton and I are staying in Hidalgo, though, but we are getting a new missionary companionship in our district so that is cool! Also, I got pulled over for the very first time in my life last night...and it was by U.S. Border Patrol! It wasn’t a big deal though, so before y'all even start worrying you can stop. We pulled over on the side of the road next to this cotton field in our area because we needed to make some calls. And we were there for about 10-15 minutes. So we’re done and we leave to go to someone's house (it's around 8:00 last night, by the way) and the whole drive there I was thinking: “man I think this border patrol van is following us this is weird.” And so we turn into the neighborhood and he turns his lights on and I'm thinking, "oh my gosh what is it with me, Elder Thornton, and the police these days? Just give us a break!" But he comes up to the door all sketchy and is yelling at us to roll the window down. So we do and he walks up and you could just see his face change when he saw that we were both LDS missionaries. So he checked our IDs and then told us that the field where we pulled over is big pick up place for illegal border crossings, and then that was all. He was cool but it was pretty funny I was trying hard not to laugh!

We helped a member move on Saturday and I was wearing my Vandy shirt and he just goes, "Yea Vandy got worked by Temple yesterday." Oh man!

The mission is going by so fast ahhhh – I hate how fast it's going! Oh yea and I got the cookies from grandma today...SO GOOD, THANKS! They were delicious and our apartment just scarfed them down. The mission is great though I can't complain at all. Elder Latu got transferred out so that was kind of sad because we got super close, but it's all good. All is well. The Savior is the key in everything and I am so eternally grateful for His sacrifice! If y'all haven’t seen the "Because of Him” video, go watch it – right now!!!!! I love y'all!!!

Con amor y viva Mexico,
Elder Christiansen

"This is I-Dawg in Argentina wearing the Ensworth shirt I gave him!"

Monday, August 25, 2014

White Shirt on a Chair ... and Cloud 9

Here's the news from Hildago today -- Elder Christiansen and his companion have been teaching a wonderful family and an important decision was made!

Muy buenas dias,

So this last week was so great…because the Fuentes family got baptized!!!!!!! Oh man what a milagro (“miracle”) it was! So we went by basically every day and had super powerful lessons with them. I mean just like a spiritual 12-round boxing match with testimonies and scriptures and crushing doubts and it was great! So we go over on Friday for our lesson and we sit down and we are just doing small talk and there was a white dress shirt sitting on one of their chairs. And so, kind of joking, I asked Hermano Fuentes if that was for his baptism. And then he looks at me and says: “Si, hermanos, me voy a bautizar el domingo con mi familia." -eso quiere decir, “that is to say -- "Yes, brothers, I am going to get baptized on Sunday with my family.” Man, I couldn’t believe it! It was one of those moments when you feel like the whole world has stopped and you are just on cloud 9. It was great though, and then they all got baptized and it was awesome!

That was the main thing that has happened this week. Seminary and school are all starting up here and I can't believe it! All is well though and my mission is going great!

Con amor y come mucho Andrew (“with love and eat much, Andrew”),
Elder Christiansen

We received this photo today -- it's from Ethan's last area in Laredo.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Excellent Training and Teaching

News from Ethan today: leadership training, loving his mission, and teaching a new family. Our email to him today included the tender news that Uncle Jay passed away the day before after a long journey with cancer.


Oh, I’m so sorry about Uncle Jay. I will send Aunt Susie a letter.

Everything is going fine down here in South Texas. So we have been teaching this family and they have been doing wonderful!! Ellos se llaman la familia Fuentes! (“They are called the Fuentes family!”) They are just great; oh man, I love them so much! So it is a mom and dad, like a 20-ish-yr old girl, 17-yr-old boy and 14-yr-old girl. The oldest girl doesn’t really listen to us but the rest of the family does and the dad and 14-yr-old girl came to church last week and then yesterday the mom, dad and 14-yr-old came!!! They are so awesome!!

I love my mission so much I can't even put it into words. Also, this week we had something called 3-day Leadership Training. It is meetings that are from 8-5ish, 3 days in a row every few months for the leaders in the mission (dls, zls, aps, stls) and it is pretty much Presdiente Maluenda giving us training and instruction on how we can be better and the way he wants the mission to go and so forth. The trainings were AWESOME!! I learned a lot from the Spirit and it was great seeing all of my buddies from around the mission. I also talked to Elder Peterson because he was there, too, and we were sitting at the same table for lunch. It was great to see him!

All is well though and I am so grateful for all my blessings!!! 

Con amor, (“with love”)
Elder Christiansen

Monday, August 4, 2014

Hello Hidalgo!!

Today, we learned Ethan is now serving in Hidalgo, which is right across from Reynosa, Mexico, and right by Brownsville. He's as far south as you can get in his mission area. He's back in the "Valley" as it's known (near his first area, in Donna, TX in McAllen), and he's excited about that. And, he's working in the same Zone with Elder Renshaw (his very first companion in the Missionary Training Center), so he's very excited about that! He's experiencing life on the border and seeing lots hardship, yet joy as well. Here's his news:


Ok, so here is the big news: I was transferred to...Reynosa, Mexico!!!!! Haha, no jkjk, but I was transferred pretty close to it. I am in Hidalgo now! I think it is a little south and west of McAllen, but I’m really not sure. It's crazy being back in the valley, too, like I was here a year ago, just 30 minutes over, in Donna. Oh, ok, here is the best part: so my Zone Leaders are Elder Casteel (I’ve served with him almost my entire mission and I love that big guy, he's is so cool and just a baller) and Elder Renshaw!!!!!! So when I found that out I was like freaking out, I was so happy!!! But yea, it was super hard leaving Laredo; man I just love those people so much it's crazy. And it was hard because I was up packing until 12:30 a.m., and then we had to get up at 4:15 a.m. in order to get to McAllen on time for transfers. It was good though. Yea so being a District Leader is cool, it's just a new way to serve but it's fun. Oh, and my new companion is Elder Thornton from Grand Junction, Colorado. He is cool and we get along fine – he was up in my Zone in Laredo so I already knew him fairly well. Our area touches the border and we have one of the bridges to Mexico in our area as well. We live with two other elders, too: que se llaman Elder Latu, he is from Tonga but moved to the USA in 2011 and he started playing football. So, he is still learning English as well as Spanish, haha. He got a scholarship to play football anywhere in the country, USC, UCLA, Ohio State, Michigan...and he was going to go to Oregon but then he decided to go on a mission – he is super cool and we get a long great. And he is training a brand new greenie missionary named Elder Lindsay, who also is a cool dude.

It’s definitely not as hot here in Hidalgo than it is up in Laredo, that's one thing I’ve noticed. It’s for sure more humid though. Ok, so District Leaders and Zone Leaders can interview people to get baptized, so I had my first baptismal interview on Saturday and it was cool! It was with a woman from Honduras who came across like a month ago, and she came across with absolutely nothing (oh yea, and for eight days she lived in the Monte – which is like the dessert/brush area of Mexico). So one day she was walking around and didn’t know what to do and she told me she said a prayer in her heart that God would send her an angel. And later that day one of the sisters in the ward saw her on the street, took her to get something to eat, bought her clothes, and took her to her house so she would have a place to live. She then brought her to church and then the lady from Honduras took all the lessons, absolutely loved them, and then got baptized!!! It was pretty cool. God knows each of us personally, and He loves us so much. He wants us to be happy. He already suffered everything so that way we don't have to. It just all depends on our faithfulness to keeping the commandments of the Gospel. I know it's true and after she got baptized yesterday she was so happy. She was SO, SO happy. She truly had a fullness of joy. I'm grateful to be a missionary and represent our Savior each and every day.

Con Amor,
Elder Christiansen
P.S. I’m still in a car area and we get fed almost everyday as well...hahaha

Monday, July 28, 2014

Leaving Laredo ... and Photos!!

Big news from Texas today -- Ethan is getting transferred! This will be the fourth area where he's worked. We don't actually know where he's going yet as that detail will come to him on Tuesday, I think, so we'll hear next week. Prayers for a smooth and successful transfer! Oh, and lots of fun pictures today! :))

Familia, Familia!

Man, so a bunch of crazy things happened this week! So we got the voicemail on Sunday morning and I'm getting transferred! It was like a 50-50 chance between Elder Brian and me, and the message said my name first but then right after they said Elder Brian was getting transferred, too! They are closing down an area next to ours and changing the borders and such so we’re both gone to new places! Also, Presidente Maluenda called me on Saturday night and asked me to be a district leader, so that is pretty nuts, too, but it should be fun. (Ask Benjin what a DL is and he can explain it.)

I am super sad that I am leaving Laredo, though, this has probably been one of my favorite areas. Elder Brian and I got so close with all the members and so they were all sad to see us go as well. There were lots of tears. I love these people a lot like words
"Elder Brian and I having lunch at Whataburger."
just can't describe it. To see someone change so much and grow so much closer to their
Savior is just the best feeling ever. Seeing this change take place just opens up a part of your heart that you didn’t even know was there. Also I’ll send a lot of pictures. Oh, and I still don't know where I'm going so that'll probably be in next week’s email (fingers crossed for Brownsville!!! haha – I don’t really care where I go, I’ll be fine wherever).

"This is a picture of our Zone doing a 'stomp' -- we
all went to one area in Zapata and worked there for a day.
It was super fun!!! We're making
(or trying to make) a 'Z' sign with our hands for Zapata."
Ethan is on the back row, orange tie. :) 

"This is our Zone."
Ethan is on the back row, second from left.

"Behind me is Mexico!"

"The temperature reading on our car when we came
out of an appointment one day!"

"This is the planning agenda that I keep in my shirt pocket.
And, yes, it's wet from sweat." 

"We eat at this sister's house every Sunday after church."

"This is Mike (in the middle), a cool member in Laredo we hung out with a lot."

"We are with the Morales family in their humble casita."

Man, that sounds like y’all are having a lot of fun in Utah. Tell everyone I say hi and that I love them a lot!!! No there is nothing I really need – I am fine. That family that we were teaching totally dropped us but that's ok, it happens. Nothing else too big happened this week though it's just crazy to think I'm starting another transfer and that it’s almost August, holy cow what is happening!!!!!

One thing in our sacrament meeting yesterday that hit me was the speaker said, "If you are not seeing miracles in your life, start asking for them." And it just hit me when he said that because miracles are a part of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the Lord wants us to have those in our lives, sometimes all we need to do is just ask for them. All is well down here in Texas though. I love this place!!!

Con Amor (with love),
Elder Christiansen