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! :))