Tuesday, May 27, 2014

"The Best Experience of My Whole Life"

News and commentary from Laredo today -- Elder Christiansen is loving on all his grandparents, including my mom, who he named "Gar-Gar," when he was little, who had a big birthday (it was the one right before 80!); and an awesome letter from Doug's dad. And on two sweet friends who are natives of Mexico and love to hear about all the great Mexican food Ethan is eating and loving! They have this great culinary connection through his mission experience and are already planning what they want to cook for him when he gets home. :) Ok, a little concerned about his fascination (obsession?) with Whataburger...what even is that? :) Most of all, so special to hear about another baptism, and that Elder Christiansen is having the "best experience of my whole life." Pretty amazing.


May 27, 2014

Familia,

This week was super good again! And, yes, I didn't email yesterday because of Memorial Day. Cesar was baptized!!!!!!! His friend, Miguel, baptized him and it was really great – there was a really sweet spirit there. As for your question: no I don't want/need anything special for my year-mark – haha. It’ll just come and go. Oh man, Silvia and Janet, I can’t wait to see them, too! They will make me feel like I'm back in the mission once I get home! Ok, I'll send Gar-Gar a letter. I got a letter from Grandpa this week, too, and he sounds like he is doing well. I love getting letters from all the grandparents, their letters are always so nice and uplifting (not that yours aren’t though). :)

Not a whole lot else happened this week that was too crazy, though. A giant dog almost bit me but that was because I didn’t see it and accidentally walked right by it. But Elder Brian was like: "Dude look at that beast!" And I looked down and then it jumped up and ran after me so I bolted into the street and before it got me, the chain caught the dog and pulled it back. It was pretty funny, some people across the street were laughing at me!

Life is good though, and especially life in the mission. I'm just having the best experience of my whole life I can't believe everything I'm learning and the way I'm growing – it’s just the best. Oh, the guy I'm next to in that picture is Hermano (Brother) Flores and he is a baller. He gives the Morales family a ride to church every week and so we asked him to baptize them and he was thrilled to do it. Wow, I can't believe Andrew is going to be a senior, he’s so small though how can this be?!?!?!?! It's still super hot as always, I sweat so much it's not even funny, it's terrible but I wouldn't want it any other way! God is good and keep reading the Book of Mormon!!! 

A penas comi whataburger y realmente me lo encanto muchisimo #PattyMelt (something about eating, loving Whataburger…??)
Elder Christiansen



Monday, May 19, 2014

A Baptism and Yard Work ... "Life is Good!"

Here's the news from Laredo today!


May 19, 2014

Buenas,

So this week was another awesome week!!! The Morales family got baptized!!!!!! It was awesome and they are doing great! They are such a great, humble family and they were so ready for the gospel nothing could have stopped them!! Also Brian (the guy we baptized two weeks ago) received the Aaronic priesthood!!! And I got to give it to him! It was such a cool experience I had never done that before.


It's still extremely hot. Oh, and so we went and did yard work for a sister in the Spanish Rama (Branch) this past week and it was crazy. The grass/weeds hadn’t been cut since February and so the they were seriously taller than I am. So Elder Brian, two men from the Rama, and I went over and just went nuts on her lawn, we were just ripping weeds up and one of the guys had a machete he was using and the other had a giant walking weed-eater and so we were all getting pelted by like rocks and stuff. Oh, and I saw the biggest spider of my life, seriously it was the size of my palm I couldn’t believe, it Elder Brian and I were like "Oh my gosh!!!!!!" It was awesome, though, because she did a huge carne ("meat"?) for us so when all the work was done we all went inside and ate sooo much food, I probably gained 5 lbs just while I was there alone, it was so good though.

I'm not sure what I’m going to do when I get home because I LOVE Mexican food it's seriously the best ever. Life is good though I'm happy I'm a missionary and I'm happy that I get to do what I do everyday. There's really nothing like it; it's just the best! Oh, and we had another miracle this week!!!!! So one of the youth in the Spanish Rama brings his friend to church every week. So I saw him and went up and introduced myself and he told me that he wanted to get baptized!!! So we've had a few lessons and he's going to get baptized on Friday!!!!!! His name is Cesar. Pray for him!!

Keep on keeping on y'all – life is good! Be happy!!

Les amo!!!! (“I love you!”)
Elder Christiansen

Monday, May 12, 2014

The Day After Mother's Day ... all About Brothers!

This was the family email we got today -- responding to our email, which was paragraphs long, talking in colorful detail about everything we didn't get to talk about the day before! :))

A man of few words, but he covered the most important -- love. He wrote a long email to Andrew today, and that was awesome. Love these brothers!!



May 12, 2014

Familia,

Yep, it was super fun! I love y’all!! Yea, the serenade was fun. I love you Andrew!!!!!!! I don’t really have anything else to say because we just talked! Have a great week! 

Con Amor, ("with love")
Elder Christiansen




 























Sunday, May 11, 2014

'Twas the Night Before Mother's Day ... and the Mother's Day Skype!

May 10 & 11, 2014

So, the night before Mother's Day, I watched our Christmas Skype call with Elder Christiansen -- what fun! It was a special time to see him and visit with him and hear all about his adventures and experiences, and it was so fun to relive it. I asked Doug and Andrew if they wanted to watch it with me, to which Doug replied that he's watched pieces of it lots of times while he's flying all over the world. Who knew? That's so sweet! And then Andrew said: "I don't need to watch it, I was there." There you go -- very matter-of-fact. So, I had Ethan all to myself, it was so fun to listen to him again, and I was even more excited for our Mother's Day conversation!

As on Christmas Day, we got everything set up, ready to Skype and record. Ethan was going to be calling between 5:00 and 6:00 p.m. so we were ready! At 6:10 p.m., the familiar ring and "hola familia" from Elder Christiansen!

He was Skyping from a church member's home, and we got to say hello to all of their family. And we got to meet Ethan's companion, Elder Brian, as well before he also Skyped his family. It was a little bit chaotic with everyone Skyping at once from the same room, but they finally went into separate rooms where it was quieter and we could talk.

So, here he is! And a screen shot is our take-away from this call -- early on, the ipad started giving warnings that there wasn't any more space to record!! Really?? So, this one will just be emblazoned in our memories. :) He looked and sounded happy!


We covered lots of ground with Elder Christiansen -- he's happy, healthy, always hot, working hard, loving the people he's meeting and teaching, loving his roommates and companions, loving the church members, and loving this opportunity to serve. He didn't sound homesick. He loves Laredo! He loves Mexican food! He loves the sweet mothers who cook for them all the time.

The family they are teaching is planning to be baptized and join the church and they are so excited about that. He feels safe as a missionary, though there are dangerous parts of town and they are careful. They don't go into Mexico. And naive me, asking why they don't have sister missionaries in his zone? Elder Christiansen, Doug, and Andrew said, almost in unison: "probably too dangerous." Ethan's first apartment in Donna, Texas was robbed. The missionaries who live there now weren't home and no one was hurt, thankfully. The culprits took whatever they could find, which was some clothes, and books, etc.

We all couldn't believe that Elder Christiansen has been serving for almost a year. The time has flown! He was talking about the date he'll finish up -- likely the end of May 2015. And, he's thinking about going back to school for summer term instead of waiting until fall 2015. Lots of time between now and then, but interesting and great to hear him talking about future plans.

We got to chat for about an hour, which was so fun. One of my favorite parts of the whole Skype was hearing Ethan and Andrew talk away -- so precious!! Another part was hearing Elder Christiansen speak fluent, and rapid, Spanish with the family who had graciously provided their home and laptops. As we were finishing up our conversation, the dad came in to talk to Ethan and I was just wide-eyed and impressed! Couldn't understand anything, but was amazed and delighted to see and hear him speaking Spanish so well.

The dad wanted both Elder Christiansen and Elder Brian to come to the living room, still with their families on Skype, so his family all could wave and say hi to us, and so they could play us a recording of a special Mother's Day performance by a Mariachi band that came in earlier to serenade the mom of the family. They wanted to share that with the moms and families of Elder Brian and Elder Christiansen -- it was so sweet!

As on Christmas, Elder Christiansen shared his testimony and faith in God and Jesus Christ. It was beautiful. He also shared his belief that there isn't a problem that reading the scriptures, and particularly the Book of Mormon, can't help us solve. Pretty cool.

So, next Skype Christmas 2014. I wonder where Elder Christiansen will be then. Can't wait to find out. (Oh, and note to the ipad owner: please delete some files between now and then! :))

Monday, May 5, 2014

"I Wouldn't Want to be Anywhere Else (No Offense)"

One more week until the Mother's Day Skype call -- so excited! And not offended -- read below. So sweet -- and so glad he is loving his mission service! :)



May 5, 2014

Buenas,

So this past week was awesome!! We got news about transfers and I'm staying in Laredo for another six weeks (yessss)!!!!! I'm also staying with Elder Brian so I was excited about that as well. Brian was confirmed yesterday and so that was great, too! I did the confirmation and it was my first time doing one in English so that was cool! Also, right now we are teaching a family! We have been teaching them for about 2 to 2 1/2 weeks now and they are doing great! It is a mom, a 15-yr old boy, 14-yr old boy, and then a 6-yr old girl, 3-yr old girl, and a 11-month old girl (super, super chubby). They are awesome I love them so much! It has been a little bit of a struggle to get them to church because they don't have a car and they have 6 people in their family but thankfully we found someone to give them a ride and so they all came yesterday! They are also a very poor family. None of them have phones, their little trailito (trailer) has no AC and when we went over on Saturday night their lights had been cut off so please pray for them. For their job they sell tamales y watermelon at the pulga (flea market) so it's been hard for them but they are reading, praying, and coming to church so I know the Lord will bless them.

It was hot this past week – so what's new? Oh, and we got the details for Skype. It will be the same thing we did for Christmas so it will be 45 minutes. And I already talked to a church member and it will be from their house this Sunday sometime between 5-6ish so sean listos! (be ready!). I honestly can't believe it's already May, holy cow, it can't be real ahhhh!!! Also, I won a pair of sunglasses this week at our zone meeting so I’m sending them home to Andrew and it is your birthday present. They are pink and I'm writing a Spanish phrase on the side that everyone says here. Nothing else too super crazy happened this week though. The work is going great – hard as always – but I wouldn't want to be anywhere else (no offense). :)) I'll send some more pictures. Send me y'alls Skype name, too. 

Come mucho y #ILoveWhataburger
Elder Christiansen


"This is our zone at a meeting where I won the pink sunglasses
(that I'm wearing -- haha!). We call this the 'Bro Zone'
because it's the only one in the Texas McAllen
 Mission that doesn't have sister missionaries."
(Note: Elder Christiansen is on the back row, second from left.)