Monday, June 30, 2014

Happy Birthday Ethan ... and a "Mordita"!!

Happy Birthday to Ethan!!! He's no longer a teenager -- 20 years ago today he came into the world!! And how thankful and blessed we are to have him in our family!! We have a birthday tradition of doing a "wake-up cake" where the birthday person has to stay in bed until the rest of the family comes in to wake him/her up with a cake, candles, and singing happy birthday! Both Ethan and Andrew have summer birthdays so we've done the wake-up cake in many locations over the years, and with improvised "cakes" as needed (muffins, granola bars, etc.). And, if we've been separated for some reason on their birthdays -- they've been traveling, or we have -- kind friends have kept the tradition going for us! This year, thanks to an email exchange, we were able to let Elder Brian know and he was so nice to surprise Ethan on our behalf! :)) And we are so grateful for many kind church members who took their time and were so thoughtful and generous to celebrate Ethan's birthday with him while he's in Laredo. And we simply love the last line of Ethan's letter today -- that says it all. I'm sure it's a birthday he'll never forget!


June 30, 2014

Hi Familia!

Oh my goodness I can't believe Vandy won that is so sick!!!! PLEASE send me some pics!! Oh, and I got the packages and they are AWESOME!!! The Vandy shirts are super cool and all the snacks were perfect! Thanks so much!! 

"This is our apartment in the Vandy shirts--thanks!"
I love their "game faces" and seeing the orange "E" shorts!
This was another good week, too! It was super hot like always but I love it I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. This morning we got up at 5:20 and played soccer, so when we got home Elder Brian made me get back in bed and then they did wake-up cake (with a brownie), and it was awesome. I've had a few cakes given to me this week and I have another "birthday party" tonight and tomorrow night so I'm pumped about that, too! Mexico lost in the mundial so that's too bad, but it sounds like the USA is playing really well!



So there is this tradition in the Mexican culture that when it's your birthday they sing happy birthday to you and you do a "Mordita" which means like “little bite.” So you bend down and bite a off a little piece of cake and then someone pushes your head into the cake and you get cake and frosting and everything all over your face. So I knew about this and last night we were at a member’s house and I was expecting that to happen. So after we sing happy birthday everyone starts chanting “Mordita! Mordita! Mordita" And so I was about to go down and take a bite, but then this other member who was behind me had filled his whole hand up with icing and then just blindsided me and smeared it all over my face, haha! It was awesome!! It was super fun and I have some pictures, too!

"This is the cake."













"This is the before." 


"This is the after!" :) 

















The mission is still going amazing. Last Sunday we had two people come to church and it was a total miracle because we weren't teaching them. I know it came because Elder Brian and I are working very hard, and as we work hard, the Lord helps us out with miracles, big and small. I love the Lord and I'm so happy I am an official representative of Him on my birthday!! 

Con Amor,
Elder Christiansen

P.S. Please send some pictures from the Vandy games!!!! And the dogpile!!!! 

Monday, June 23, 2014

Obedience, Faith, and Patience ... and Go 'Dores!!

Wonderful technology and kind strangers! I received a random text from a church member in Laredo -- she and her family had Ethan and his companions over for a birthday dinner, her oldest son baked a Lego cake for the celebration, and she wanted to share the fun with us! :) So sweet -- not only that this wonderful family had the missionaries over, and are caring for them, but also that the mom sent us the text and pictures. Such a fun and thoughtful surprise -- we loved this real-time glimpse into Ethan's life, and are so grateful for the kindness of the people around him and his companions. In Ethan's letter today, he's so excited Vanderbilt made it to the College World Series finals! 



























Buenas,

NO WAY!!!!!!!!! Holy cow, I can’t believe that about Vandy – ahhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Take a bunch of pictures of the TV and send them to me! And especially the dog pile if they win!!!!!! That's so sick!!!! A lady at church yesterday showed me the article on her phone and I was going nuts!! I hope they win!!!!!

Everyone loves the World Cup here – it's crazy. Yesterday we knocked on a door and nobody answered. Then we knocked again and this time we just heard a bunch of screaming on the other side of the door, seriously it was a group of people going nuts. Then we hear them chanting, "U-S-A! U-S-A!!" So Elder Brian and I were like, "Well, looks like we just scored!" It was nuts. And, everyone went crazy here when Mexico tied Brazil.

Yea I know, I'm excited for my birthday! Different church members are having Elder Brian and me over for a birthday party almost every day this upcoming week! Ummmm…I don't really want or need anything for my birthday. Maybe a big package of food and snacks for the apartment would be good, but I can't think of anything else. Oh my goodness I can't believe Clay is almost done with his mission, it seems like he just started last week – that just blows my mind!!! Sorry I don't have lots of photos from this week but I'll hopefully have some next week.

This past week was good. It was a hard week though – we talked to so many people and just nobody really panned out/nobody was really interested. It’s ok, though, I am grateful for trials and growing moments like these because the good times always follow the bad ones, I have seen it time and time again. As long as we keep being obedient and faithful to the Gospel, then we will receive the blessings – it’s impossible for us to not to. The only hard part is that sometimes we want them now, now, now instead of in the Lord's time. That's ok though, because then we learn patience, which is a very important Christ-like attribute.

I heard this next week is supposed to be a hot one again so I'm excited! Oh and Dad, I was wondering if you could get four gold or black mechanical engineering shirts for the guys in my apartment? They all think it's sick that you work at Vandy and they would love engineering shirts! Kinda random but that would be cool if you sent those if you can. Oh man Trotter it's almost his time! He'll do great in Vancouver! That sounds super fun that he, Richard and Andrew went camping, too. And Andrew, gosh dangit, email me some cool pics or something, homie!!!

The church is true and God lives and loves us. Have a good week y’all and go ‘Dores!!!!

Con Amor,
Elder Christiansen

Monday, June 16, 2014

Staying in Laredo for Six More Weeks!

In today's letter, we learned that Elder Christiansen will be staying in Laredo for at least another six weeks (the length of a transfer cycle). He's excited about continuing to work in Laredo and with Elder Brian. Lots of sports chatter in today's letter, we had to update Ethan on the latest news. And, a story about the generous cooks / moms who feed the missionaries. Oh my!


June 16, 2014

Buenas,

Yes I got your letter and that's good you got the package. Haha -- yea that's a funny shirt, Lindsay sent it to me in the MTC, I think. (Note: t-shirt says “Don’t mess with Texas girls!” sent by college friend, Linsday, who’s from Texas.) I just had way too many shirts so I sent some home. Yea I got some pictures from Dad in China, too, that’s crazy awesome!! And Vandy is in the College Word Series!!!!!!!!! Man, now that la copa mundial (“the World Cup”) has started its like nuts here when Mexico plays, every single person is watching the game. Ty (note: college friend serving mission in Fortaleza, Brazil) emailed me today and I guess Brazil is playing Mexico tonight or tomorrow,? so hope Mexico pulls it out – haha. That's also super cool about Trot and Evan, good for them. (note: other missionary friends) Yea, everyone here is excited about the Spurs as well. Also, I hope the Texas Rangers do well in baseball this year, that's my new team!!

Yep, Silvia and Janet's letter was super nice, I’m going to write them back. Let's see…so we got the transfer news and I am staying! And I'm staying with Elder Brain! (I'm excited about both of those things!). I’m going to be in the hottest part of the mission for the hottest part of the year, too, haha, so that's exciting. I don’t have any new pictures from this week but I’ll send more next week.

We are getting fed so much, and last week I think I hit my limit. We had two food appointments last Friday, and that's nothing new, we get fed a lot. But the first one was at 3 p.m. and it was just rice and meat and like the usual. And I had two plates. Then we had a dinner appointment at 7 p.m., and I was going into it super, super full. So we get there and this is what we ate: I had two strawberry milkshakes, two plates of lasagna, a couple pieces of bread and then a giant piece of cheesecake and two scoops of ice cream. The house where we were eating – the mom is one who, literally, right when you finish something she is already there giving you more, no questions asked if we wanted more, just eat! And this happens a lot and I normally shoulder the load because I’m a little bit more...*cough cough* …husky and Elder Brian is more thin-boned. But this time, I was just too full and my stomach was making weird noises and about to revolt. So, we just wrap up the visit with prayer, leave and get to the bikes (it was a bike day, of course) and we start riding home. And I was flying, like I don’t even think Lance Armstrong would have kept up with me and then I hear Elder Brian yell at me: "Elder!!!!" so I come to a screaming halt (almost flipped at this point, and had I done that it would have just been game over), but thankfully I didn’t and I look back and he is running towards me and he just goes, "I’m so sorry but my tire just popped." And I look down and his tire was just wrecked. He hit a glass piece and there was no air in it at all. So we then walk 20 minutes home – probably good for us after such a big meal! We eventually made it home and all was well. But it was so funny, and stressful, at the time.

We also had Zone Conference this week, too, and it was super good. Presidente Maluenda talked a lot about 5 major things: Love, Obedience, Hard Work, a Good Attitude, and Animo (“Cheer?” not sure if that’s correct – Google Translate) (I don't know how to say that in English). It was awesome though, it was just the best. He then talked about Peter and about the Savior and their conversation: "do you love me?" The Savior taught that if we love Him, we will feed His sheep and become disciples. It was so good. It reminded me of Elder Holland’s talk in General Conference about discipleship (note: you can read the talk here). 

All is well – I love the mission and I love this Gospel.

Con Amor (“with love”),
Elder Christiansen 

Monday, June 9, 2014

The One-Year Mark!

June 5, 2014 was the one-year mark of Elder Christiansen's two-years of missionary service. Exciting milestone -- we can't believe how fast the time is going!

"This is our district." Ethan is fourth from the right.

"Elder Brian and me after a long day working in Los Llomas
(not in our area but outside of Laredo)."

"A gas station by our apartment: 'Aceptamos Pesos'
significa 'We Accept Pesos.'"



June 9, 2014

Buenas,

This past week was good once again. So to start off I hit my year mark!! It's crazy to think I've been doing this for a year, I still feel like a greenie! So we burned a white shirt that night to commemorate – it was fun! I’ve also been really sick this week but I'm feeling totally fine today, so no worries. But I did throw up yesterday and we came home from church early, but I think it was something I ate. Life is good, though, I'm still loving the mission! We have Zone Conference this week so I am excited about that, it should be a lot of fun and a lot of revelation and learning by the Spirit. Oh and yes, I am drinking tons of water so no worries!

This is the last week of this transfer, too, and I don't know if I’ll get transferred or not. There have been a lot of rumors that they are going to put sister missionaries in our area, but nobody knows exactly so we’ll see what happens.

How is summer going so far? Is it hot in Tennessee yet? How's summer baseball, too? How are the elders and sisters (missionaries) doing in our ward? Do we have elders or sisters, or both? Also, I have a lot of pictures to send home this week, too. I love y’all!!  Que coma mucho Andrew! (“eat much, Andrew”)

Con Amor (“with love”),
Elder Christiansen

P.S. – Oh, and I’m sending home a package today to Mom only, so just be on the lookout. 


Monday, June 2, 2014

A Chilly 105 Degrees ... and a Fast-Growing Branch

Elder Christiansen...gently reminding us to get our email to him so it's there when he gets online (last week, our email missed him and arrived after he had checked his email...so sorry buddy!)... commenting on friends graduating from high school, friends getting married, hilarious comments out of the mouth of his little second cousin, and news about uncle and brother-in-law, Jay, who has been staring down stage 4 colon cancer for 4+ years, and recently made the brave choice to conclude chemo as it is no longer effective. We love you, Uncle Jay!


June 2, 2014

Buenas,

Man, I'm so glad y’all emailed! Remember to email every week!!!!!!! This week was good. It continues to be SO hot here – big surprise. Last week we got in the car and it said 122 on the temperature gauge. But we were out of our mileage allowance, so we went back and got on our bikes, and it cooled off to a chilly 105. It felt like no matter where we went, we were standing next to a giant heater! It was good, though.

Man, sounds like a lot of stuff is going on, I can't believe Richard graduated from high school!! I remember taking him to Ensworth his first day after Seminary! Holy cow and Molly’s wedding this week, that's crazy! Hahaha that is so funny about Maddux, haha. That's too bad about Uncle Jay, though. He and Aunt Susan have done their part in this life so they will have blessings awaiting them in heaven. They are such great examples.

The work is going great though, I love it. The branch we are in right now is the fastest growing one in Laredo, it's on fire and so we just gotta keep it that way. Andrew, go hard in summer workouts you chubby osito (“teddy”). Presidente Maluenda is coming up next week, I think, because we have zone conference, so I'm pumped about that. Life is good here in south Texas! There is nothing better than being a missionary!!!!! I love y'all!!

Con amor (“with love”),
Elder Christiansen


P.S. Andrew – email me!