Monday, March 31, 2014

Driving in Laredo

First letter from Laredo. Elder Christiansen is now driving a car, after 10 months exclusively on a bike. I'm sure it will all come back to him. :) Sounds like the first few days of navigating around Laredo have been an adventure!

And here's a photo, below, of Elder Christiansen and his companion in Flour Bluff, Elder Roth, the day before Ethan moved to Laredo. They were companions for three months.


"This is Elder Roth and me outside the Stake Center
in Corpus Christi the day before I left."



March 31, 2014

Amigos & Familia,

Ok so I should apologize first off because I haven't email one of these out in a long time but it's just been super crazy! So please forgive me! So I guess to start off I was transferred this past week and so I am now currently in Laredo. I was only in Corpus Christi for about 3 months and I found out on Sunday night that I would be leaving Tuesday morning. So on Tuesday I had to get up at 4:30 a.m. to drive down to McAllen with 2 other missionaries and then I rode up in a car packed with 5 of us and all of our luggage, so that was pretty fun, too. Also when I got transferred I found out that I was white-washing. That means that both of the missionaries were replaced in an area so my new companion and I are both new here and have been super lost this past week just trying to figure out where everything is. It has been sooo much fun, though!

My companion’s name is Elder Brian and he's from Utah. He’s cool, we will have lots of fun working together. Also, this is the first time on my mission being in a car area so I had to kind of get used to life behind the wheel again...I haven’t driven for 10 months so it's been fun.

So, right when we got here I had to take my bike to a bike shop because the crank fell off and some other stuff. So, it was on the other side of Laredo so we figure out how to get there, drop off my bike, and then we’re heading home. And so we’re driving and talking and whatever and I'm looking ahead and there are all these flashing lights and I think to myself, "Man that must have been a big accident."... Well as we got closer I looked up and realized that what we were looking at was la puente (bridge) that goes into Mexico! And we were heading right for it! So Elder Brian and I just start laughing and we’re like "Holy cow!!!! We gotta get over." And so pretty much after cutting off 3 lanes of traffic and running a red light we stayed in the United States! Oh man, it was sooo funny we were just laughing so hard the whole way back. Now the embarrassing part of this is when we were coming back from the bike shop with my bike about 3 days later, I almost made the same mistake but instead I just cut off one guy and then light was green.

The apartment we live in is basically walking distance from the border. and it's pretty crazy. All the street signs are in Spanish and we have lots of stores that say “Aceptamos pesos" or "We accept pesos."

I LOVE Laredo though it is so great. There are just so many people willing and ready to hear about the Restored Gospel. Everyone is so nice to us and the members of the Church here are amazing as well. Also it is just puro espanol, like the only time I don’t speak Spanish is in the apartment really because no one here knows English. I love it though and I'd say that I'm pretty much fluent in Spanish now as well. I get like 90% of it and even if it's not about the church or gospel. The church is true y'all and the Lord really does love each one of us. We are His children and He is always, always willing and waiting to bless each and every one of us. Que Dios les bendigas y cuides durante toda la semana. Ora siempre. (May God bless you and take care all week. Pray always.)

Come bien, Andrew (eat well, Andrew)
Elder Christiansen 


Monday, March 24, 2014

On the Road Again ... Moving to Laredo!

Big news from Elder Christiansen today -- he's moving to Laredo! Tomorrow, actually. Check out this map showing the location of Laredo. It's basically right on the border. This will be the third area where he's lived and served: North Donna (McAllen area); Flour Bluff (Corpus Christi area); and now Laredo. More adventures await -- and more people to meet, teach, and serve.

Love reading how grateful Ethan is for the opportunity he has to give this mission service. And he's excited for General Conference, the twice-yearly conference for the entire Church held in April and October.


March 24, 2014

Familia,

Man that sounds like it was a pretty fun week for everyone, that's cool! Those jerseys look sick Andrew, man you guys are getting all the cool stuff! :) Man this week has been crazy I don't even know where to start! First off I got a text from the Zone Leaders yesterday saying that I was getting transferred but they didn't know where yet, and then I found out late last night that I will be going to Laredo and I’ll be whitewashing!!! That means that my new companion and I will be getting there at the same time this week, working in a new area. It will be way hard but I'm excited I'm going to Laredo!!! It's pretty much puro espanol there, I’ll probably be there all summer and it's the hottest part of the mission!! It's just great, I'm so excited, but I'm kind of sad I’m leaving Flour Bluff :( It's all good though.

Another thing that happened this week: we were biking down the road and these guys pulled over in front of us and wanted to talk to us. They started talking and they literally didn't stop for 45 minutes! All they did was bash us and tell us how wrong we are and that were going to hell and all this crazy stuff. And like literally they didn't stop talking; we may have said a handful of words and they just went for it. So finally there is this little pause and I spoke up and just said something along the lines of this: "Thank you so much brethren for that message. I’m going to be honest, I have no idea what your point was and I'm a little confused as to why you are so mad at us tonight but my only counsel I want to give y’all is I invite y’all to teach by the spirit. But I am so grateful that the Lord made our paths cross tonight. Y’all have really helped me see some things and really increased my testimony that the true church of Jesus Christ was restored through a prophet named Joseph Smith (that was the biggest thing they were bashing) and that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord's kingdom here on the earth. We need to get going now, we have a very important message to share and everyone we see needs to hear it. Thank you for your time." Elder Roth and I then shook hands and just biked off and they kept yelling stuff at us. It was really something.

Zone and Stake conferences this week were awesome, too, oh man they were so good!! I’ll send home the programs, but Presidente Maluenda got up to speak and, oh my gosh, it was incredible! All he did was talk about how much he loved us (the missionaries), like in a nutshell he just thanked us a ton. And then Elder Jim L. Wright (he’s a Seventy) had all the missionaries walk up onto the stand and say our purpose. First we said it in English and it was kind of rough because none of us know it in English. But then he had us say it in Spanish and it sounded way good! It was a great experience!

Oh, and my bike broke pretty bad this week. Thursday night the crank from the peddle totally came off :( So we took it to a bike shop and they have to order a new part for it but not anymore because I'm being transferred so I'll have to take it to a bike shop in Laredo to get it fixed.

I'm so grateful for this gospel!!! I have no idea what I would do or where I would be without it. Christ lives and He leads and guides the Church. And what a special opportunity we have in just 12 days to listen to that guidance through His chosen servants and apostles. Joseph Smith in reality saw God and Jesus Christ – that was a real, historical event that actually took place. It's not made-up or fiction – it is 110% real. Keep helping the missionaries in Nashville. Have fun at baseball Andrew – those times go by wayyyyy too fast!

Love y’all!!!
Elder Christiansen

Monday, March 17, 2014

Spring Break, Sick Bay ... and Speaking Spanish

News from Flour Bluff today -- illness, spring breakers, hot weather, upcoming training meetings, and speaking Spanish! And even while on his mission, Elder Christiansen cares deeply about the Ensworth Tigers baseball team and cheering for Andrew (not so thrilled to hear about losing to the in-town rival)! Andrew's team just started its baseball spring break trip to Florida, thus the comment on rooming with seven guys. Loved this picture -- what a beautiful sky. And Elder Christiansen is still smiling after a long, hard day.


"This was at sunset one day. Nothing fancy. I remember I was
very tired that day though because it had been a long day." 

March 17, 2014

Hi Familia,

What?? We got swept by MBA, come on!!!! O well, the new baseball complex sounds sick, though! That also sounds like a beast double play thata kid Andrew!! Send some pics! Yea, it's spring break down here, too...and we’re like right next to the beach so its been kinda nuts, haha. I was waiting for Elder Roth because he was in the bathroom at a Stripes and five way drunk college guys came in and went into the bathroom. One of them walked right into those yellow signs they put up after they mop that say the floor’s wet. One of them wasn’t wearing a shirt or shoes of any kind. And I watched the other 3 by $40 worth of lottery cards, it was pretty funny.

The Perez family was confirmed yesterday so they are officially members of the Church now!!!!!!! They are doing great as well!!!!!!! I was also sick this last week, too, and it was pretty bad on Thursday. I couldn’t sleep all Wednesday night because I was coughing and had the sniffles. So I stayed in for half the day Thursday but I am fine now. Yes I have gotten all of your packages and stuff and I love them! O yea it’s hot here, too, it stopped being cold in like the middle of February. Elder Roth actually shipped all of his sweaters and cold stuff home because this was his last winter in the mission. This past week was great though, I love it. I love how hot and muggy it is down here, aw man it's just the best!

We went by to see la Hermana Petra Mendez (the only Spanish member in our area) this week and it was so good to have a lesson in Spanish. She asked for a blessing as well and Elder Roth did the anointing and I did the blessing and the gift of tongues is for real! It was so cool I just remembered everything I have ever learned about Spanish and so the blessing flowed super well. These next few weeks are going to be great, too, because we have Zone Conference on Wednesday, Stake Conference on Sunday and Elder Jim L. Wright is coming, and then General Conference in a few more weeks!!! I can’t wait!!!!!

All in all, another great week to be a Texas McAllen Misionero. The Lord is preparing people to hear the gospel, we just have to find them (and by "we" that means members and missionaries alike). Have a great spring break! Those baseball trips were always so much fun! I don’t know how in the freak you are rooming with 7 other dudes, Andrew, but don’t get a disease, haha. Tell all the family I say hello, too! And that I love them!

Cuidense y come mucho Andrew, (take care and eat a lot, Andrew)
Elder Christiansen

Monday, March 10, 2014

A Family Baptism!

Thanks to everyone who shared nice comments with us about Elder Christiansen's blog -- we loved hearing from you! And thanks to those who weighed in on the "flock of deer" in the last blog post -- hilarious. We heard about a "parliament of owls" and a "zeal of zebras" and the most popular response was "herd of deer." Yes, that sounds right...a herd! We're going with that!

Here's the news from Flour Bluff today. The color commentary of Ethan's missionary experiences continues to entertain and inspire us. Most important: the baptism of the sweet family he and Elder Roth have been teaching. Awesome.


March 10, 2014

Familia, familia,

The P. family was baptized yesterday!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Ahhhhh!!!!!!!! I’m so glad it worked out and they were all baptized! The daughter wanted me to baptize her, and a member of the bishopric baptized the parents. I’ll try and send a picture after this but the Internet here is wayyy slow, so it might not work (I’ve sent 3 emails in 1 hour). So that was the big event for this past week, and the best event!

Some other funny/crazy/cool stuff es lo siguiente (is the following):

1. I flipped over on my bike again this week (this is the second time this has happened on my mission). I was riding and Elder Roth was in front of me and he kept looking back. So then I looked back to see what he was looking at and then I turned around and he was right in front of me so I yanked on the brakes and flew over the top again. It was pretty funny and I wasn’t hurt at all, my knee was a little bloody, but it was fine.

2. I finished reading Jesus The Christ this week by Elder James E. Talmadge. It was so good, I loved it and I think it is the longest book I have ever read, too. I started reading it in the middle of January. (note: it’s about 800 pages or so…)

3. I was working with another missionary in my area and we were talking as we were riding down the road and he asked me, “Do people yell a lot of mean things at you guys here?" I responded, "Yeah, all the time." Then, seriously 5 seconds later, this massive truck turns onto the road and a guy leans out the window and flips us off and yells “F… you!!!!!!" hahaha it was SO funny, oh my goodness, we were just dying laughing, haha.

Life is good though and I love the mission! We are all still learning the new teaching style and it's pretty hard, but it is very effective and it allows the Spirit to teach the people more in our lessons so that’s good. Also, Jared has an iPad now. (note: "wolf-pack" brother and missionary buddy in Washington, D.C.)

I love you guys and I hope ya’ll have a great week!!! I’ll try and send some pictures!

Cuidense (take care of yourselves),
Elder Christiansen

Monday, March 3, 2014

9 Months In ... and a Top 11 List

This week, specifically March 5th, is Ethan's nine-month mark on his mission -- huge milestone! We feel like the time is flying by! Ethan's letter this week was a list. Fun! Except for #1 and #2...scary, but thankful it's not worse / and so glad it didn't happen. So appreciate sweet friends and #3. Definitely need to discuss #11 with Ethan -- is this really a good idea? (#NoBueno) Item #5 is an inside family joke...we have a total obsession with watching the chubby babies at church, or anywhere, really. OK, yes, perhaps a unique family hobby. But "chubby" has become family shorthand for all kinds of endearments. Item #5 really says: "Andrew, I love you!" Item #8 made me pause. Ethan has been a loyal, passionate Green Bay Packers fan forever. In fact, as I write this, I'm wearing the GBP slippers he left home. They are way too big, but a fun reminder of him. So, his purchase made me smile and shows a great love of his adopted state! Overall, and most important, powerful training and experiences in #4 and #6 -- and great joy that the sweet family he and Elder Roth have been teaching will be getting baptized on March 9th. And finally, #10 -- is it really a "flock"? I think flock of seagulls, flock of geese (or is that a gaggle?)...but not so much about the deer. I'm going to have to look that up, it's just not sounding right -- please feel free to weigh in. :)


March 3, 2014

Familia!

Holy sweet Israel this was by far the craziest week of the mission yet. Here are some of the smaller things:

1. A dog bit me. It was small bite and it didn't really hurt and I was riding my bike while it happened. When dogs come up, I normally just stick my foot out and try to give them a little tap on the nose or face to get them to go away instead of starting right off the bat just whaling them. So, I did that and it somehow caught on and bit my foot. So after it bit me I slowed down just a bit so it was directly next to me, and then I had to stomp the dog off. I’m totally fine though it wasn't very bad at all it just kind of surprised me that's all. There is no bruise or anything.

2. I was almost hit by two cars this week.

3. I got everyone's packages and I loved all of them!!! Please tell the Gawrys’ and the Brewer’s I say hi and thank you!!

4. We had a representative from the Missionary Department come and do a training for the mission on Friday, and it pretty much changed every single thing we do about missionary work. We are the 71st mission to have received this training. It's hard to explain it all over an email but it was HUGE news. We're now trying to teach 7 min. restoration lessons, and pretty much the way we teach now is so, so, so simple, and a bunch of other crazy stuff, but it is sooo cool. The things we learned are more advanced than the stuff in Predicad Mi Evangelio (Preach My Gospel lesson book), I can't even begin to describe how amazing they are. This is the vision that Pres. Hinckley had when PME first came out and they threw out the missionary discussions. Read D&C 88:74 or 75, or somewhere around there. The Lord is hastening His work right now, literally as we speak His work is hastening!! Save this email (well I hope you're saving all of them), but this week pretty much just changed me more than anything. I am so grateful to be a missionary for the Lord's Church and I am especially grateful to be a Texas McAllen Missionary. There is nowhere I would rather be than right here in South Texas. I love this place. I love these people. I love how hot it is. I love all of it! The vision that the Lord has for us right now is so beyond anything we can even begin to imagine, it's insane. But He qualifies us in our weakness and is with us every single step of the way as long as we are obedient to His commandments.

5. Andrew #Chubby

6. I had the most powerful lesson of my mission hands down and the P. family is getting baptized this Sunday. We had fasted and prayed so much for them and so what we decided to do was throw in the towel on the previous lesson and teach the new 7 min. restoration lesson. All we used was the restoration pamphlet and we only talked about the pictures, no scriptures, analogies, personal experiences…not any of that. (This might not make sense to y’all but it is crazy what the people from the Missionary Department told us about shortening the lessons and helping the investigators learn by the Spirit). So, we go in there and it was the most powerful, Spirit-driven lesson ever, oh my goodness, Sis. P. was getting choked up when she read the First Vision and I thought the room was going to catch on fire because the Spirit was so strong. And when we asked them about baptism, Bro. P. just says, "Not tomorrow, but for sure next week." And they all agreed. Oh my goodness!!!!!!!! I couldn't believe, I mean I was just on the edge of my seat and felt like if I had moved my pinkie everything would have fallen apart, oh my gosh it was just amazing!!!!!!! That was like the best moment of my life!!!!!!!!!!!! And so they are down for this Sunday, March 9, 2014!! So please keep praying for them!!

7. A member takes us out eat every Monday to an all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet and if I go there one more time I will literally throw-up everywhere. All I get there is a plate full of salad and chicken nuggets. It is so funny y’all would die, like everyone is eating with chopsticks and stuff and I’m all like: “uh, can you pass the ketchup?” hahaha

8. I bought Dallas Cowboy slippers at the store last week.

9. I don't know what I was sick with last week but I am 100% better now.

10. I saw a flock of deer while we were biking home one day.

11. I honestly believe I could bike for miles without touching the handlebars, I’m like a pro at it by now #NoHands

Les quiero muchisimo y hecho les ganas!!!!!!!!!!
Elder Christiansen.