Monday, July 29, 2013

The Mayon and Mango Tarts

"To believe in God is to know that all the rules will be fair, and that there will be wonderful surprises." - Ugo Betti

Hello hello dear family! well we had a most wonderful jam packed week here in Goa Town - and other places. The overview is that we spent lots of time on a bus.  The lack of sleep led to laughing fits every night on our long walks home. We also have been living off of Ritz crackers because there is not enough time to cook. We had my favorite mango tarts at zone conference. We literally had to run home after our Sunday morning appt because of a compressed schedule. The other highlight is that I find that I always find comfort in the scriptures.  

We were back to Iriga for 2 days on Tuesday and Wednesday for splits with the missionaries there. That meant we had 2 days of full on tracting; which I have never done in my whole mission. I have tracted but usually in between lessons or when appointments fall through. This was full on no lessons were scheduled so we had "tao po-ing" (which means person) at every door all day every day. With so many missionaries coming in they are doubling and tripling up companionships in nearly every area which means lots of newly opened areas.  It is a fun energy having so many missionaries and being a part of the Lords work as it hastens onward! I was also able to see the Mayon Volcano again which I have missed seeing since I served in Ligao.  

Thursday morning we woke up early and said bye to the Mayon and headed back to Goa on one of the Harry Potter like buses that I think I have referenced in an earlier letter - they literally can shrink in and out of traffic. 

Friday we had Zone Conference in Goa and we were in charge of the catering.  We decided to put in some extra effort and wear makeup which turned out to be a bad choice.  It was a really warm day and makeup and hair down doesn’t mesh well with hauling tables and moving large bins of rice. We had a small eatery cater the Zone Conference lunch: rice (of course), BBQ chicken breast, mixed veggies kind of in a stir fry type way and then this mango tart that is so delish!  But the conference was wonderful and we were able to rewatch the world wide missionary broadcast as part of our Zone Conference. It is wonderful how missionary work is changing to a focus on working with all members.  

It was a tough week as far as investigators go.  It seemed that our faith has been tested over and over again as we are placed into moments when we must make our stand and bare testimony. We seemed to teach about the plan of salvation quite often this week.  This is one of the most difficult lessons for me to teach because there is so much that can be taught but I love it because we can teach about the atonement and eternal families.  Some times it is so hard for me to understand why things go so wrong out here; why people stray from commitments; or decide they don’t want us not to come back.  I have begun to understand how fully committed God is to this plan, he gave us agency and no matter how difficult it is for him to watch his children suffer, he is not going back on his promise to let us chose.  His full commitment also gives me a comforting understanding that if we do the best we can, nothing can go permanently wrong.  He truly is always there to catch me.  

She thinks her dog is a stuffed animal
Yesterday morning we went to go contact a referral that ended up being way up in the mountains and it took much longer than we had anticipated.  When we got out of the lesson we had 40 minutes to get home, eat and get to church.  So we grabbed our bags in our arms and literally took off in a run.  Good thing we were in the mountains and there were no people but I am sure we were quite the sight. One tall American and one small Filipina in skirts full on sprinting through the hills of rice.  

Well I am grateful for another wonderful week to wear the name of Jesus Christ.  I am grateful for the hope His atonement gives me.  Like it says in Ether my hope in Him is the anchor for my soul. It gives me strength and it brings me joy.  

Have a wonderful week! 

padanga ko kamo 

Sister Christensen  





Monday, July 22, 2013

Sister Simbol

Hi fam!!!

I am back to my 24 hrs per day, all day every day, speaking in Tagalog and it's lovely. But of course I miss Sister Farnes. My new companion is Sister Simbol and she is literally one of the smartest people I know.  She is my walking dictionary and not only in Tagalog - her photographic memory is incredible and has come in quite handy for scriptures.  Life is super busy but so much fun! We are in Naga right now cause my new comp had Dengai fever two weeks ago and we are here for a follow up check up. Tomorrow we head on more exchanges. We are using Off mosquito spray now because there is a lot of Dengai going around in Goa. I guess the Bikol region is now marked as a Dengai spot - so thats great haha.

I have been thinking about the knowledge of my companion and knowledge in general this week. 

Sister simbol and I have one part in our area that is extremly far away and there are only about 3 people at the moment that we are teaching up there.  this past friday we journeyed up to Buyo only to find all 3 of our appointments unavaiable.  we decided to try to increase the number of people we are teaching up there making the 45 minute walk through rice field tresses not so long. so we started talking to any one that was outside of their home.  it is an incredible leap of faith each time we open our mouth and say "hi how are you we are missionaries!" this last week we were able to meet one woman that we had actually met before through our landlord.  We sat down and began to talk and she informed us that both she and her husband were teachers for the catholic church.  oh boy, was my first thought.  the lesson went alright until we got to the restoration.  i was able to explain the first vision and as soon as i was finished speaking she stopped. saying sisters i have no interest in this but thank you any way. Sister Simbol and i looked at one another and then with all the faith I could muster said I know that you have your own beliefs but we want to bear testimony that we know Joseph Smith is a prophet and that God's church has been restored to the earth.

She didnt want to hear one word but as we walked 45 minutes down through the miles of rice terraces, I thought how grateful I was for this expereince.  I have knowledge of the true church of Jesus Christ.  I was thinking of this woman.  There  is inside her a hunger for more truth.  I was thinking of the difference of her knowledge compared to the knowledge of my darling 5 foot nothing filipina compaion. I know, if needed, Sister Simbol could run scriptures around this woman . But she wouldn't and she didn't. She simply bore her testimony of what she knows. 
We now start exchanges for this next six week period and tomorrow we head to Iriga for 2 days and then have zone conference on Friday! The rain comes and goes but when it comes we are drenched within moments.  

I am grateful for the knowledge i have of my savior.  I can say that i have come to know him a little better as a person. The more I serve among my friends here the more I want to know the savior, who he was as a person, as a friend.  how he treated his parents and his co-workers.  I am grateful that we have knowlege of him, his life and his plan for us. 

I love you all!!! Eat a TK for me at the beach!!! Congrats to Anna the wedding looked beautiful!

Love sister C!

Monday, July 15, 2013


Musta kayo dyan? Well transfers have arrived.  I can’t believe 3 months has come and gone since my dear Sister Farnes came into my life. I am so grateful for her.  She taught me so much… including the words “I don’t care.” I am grateful for how laid back and able to roll with the punches she is.  In the last few weeks that little catch phrase was taken a little too literal, with always moving around and on the go; it has been busy, busy, but my dear companion is always so upbeat and willing.   I am grateful for the nights of no-bake cookies and attempts at grilled cheese sandwiches and stove pop corn.  I am grateful for the miracles we have witnessed and the laughs we have had.  She helped me survive a bagio (typhoon) and taught me how to be a better missionary; a better representative of Christ and I love her dearly.  I will stay in Goa and she is moving on to her next step.

We traveled to Iriga on Tuesday and Wednesday for exchanges with the sisters; including my old companion Sister Abarabar! It is funny that after you have lived with someone for 3 months you can pick up so quick right where you left off.  We may or may not have stayed up laughing and catching up after the lights went off Tuesday night.  I have realized once again this week that this work; the work of our heavenly father is about people.  It is about his children. 

These people include the little ones traveling to elementary school at 7 am each morning; the girls always in blue pleated skirts and white shirts and the boys in their school pants; their hair usually wet, fresh from the recent faucet bath; their overly large backpacks bouncing up and down as the morning traffic rushes by.  It also includes the little boy Jaypee, maybe 2 or 3 years old, who lives next to our house and greets us with an enthusiastic “Hi Sisters!” each time we go out to work.  It also includes Xhyne Enciso, with her long curly black hair that let me help zip-up her baptismal suit and roll the bottoms and sleeves before she entered the font.  She is only 9, but she comes to church each week with her grandma.  She forgot what it meant to “bare your testimony” so she said a prayer instead when she went to the front of the room, thanking heavenly father for letting her be baptized.  It also includes Sister Bella; the new Relief Society President who was baptized in March, 2012.  She is a single mother and both of her children have grown and gone off to their own lives.  She has a Suzy Cushing enthusiasm to her that makes everything more fun and everyone happier. We sat after church in the chapel discussing name by name the less active sisters in her new 'society.' It also includes Brother Hector who says: “I just have a lot of questions about Gods plan for me and can’t find answers in the Catholic religion; maybe you have answers.” He is 20 years old and he came to church with two of his friends who are preparing to serve missions. Each Sunday he is the first one there; waiting outside for others to arrive.  We entered the church doors on Sunday to find him helping set up the rooms; Book of Mormon in hand. That 20 year old boy with questions now has a baptismal date for August as parts of the truth gradually come to his memory. 

I have been turned inward this week if I am honest.  I have been thinking about how I am not able to do all that I need to.  I feel that it is too difficult, for me; that I can’t do it well enough. Yes.  It is difficult.  Yes, there is much to be done.  But, it really has nothing to do about me.  It is about the beautiful dark eyes that I meet each day. And I am not doing this on my own. There is a power far greater than anything that I could muster lifting me and carrying me forward. 

As Alex Boye sings, “there’s a peace I’ve come to know.  Though my heart and flesh may fail; there’s an anchor for my soul. I can say, ‘Its His will.’ Jesus has overcome and the grave is overwhelmed.  The victory is won.  He is risen from the death.  And I will rise when he calls my name.  No more sorrow.  No more pain.  I will rise on Eagles wings, before my God fall on my knees.”

I know that Jesus is the Christ.  I know that this is his work.  I know that it is not easy, and that it’s not supposed to be. It’s not easy for us as missionaries. And it is not easy for the leaders, or the recent converts or the investigators.  But as the lyrics to this song say – we will rise.  I am grateful for the opportunity to spread this message of peace and hope.  I hope you are all safe and well. Have fun at the beach, eat a TK for me.  I love you.


Sister Christensen 


Monday, July 8, 2013

Corazon Loma and the Reeder's

The Loma Boys
Hello pamilya ko! Musta kayo dyan?  Well i think things are getting busier and busier but we have seen so many wonderful miracles this week. I am such a happy missionary. We went to Naga on Tuesday and were able to meet President and Sister Reeder during mission leadership conference and they are so wonderful.  It is sad to say bye to the Bliesner’s but the Reeder’s are just as easy to love.  I can tell President Reeder has run companies before and he has a wonderful vision for missionary work and he has a talent for inspiring others to see that same vision.  He adores Sister Reeder and they are both fun to be around; such exciting energy. He is also down to earth.  Sister Reeder is so kind and has a fun personality. We were with Sister Reeder the whole day for the leadership meeting and then we had interviews with President Reeder. I am so grateful I was able to be with the Reeder’s and the Bliesner’s

Sister Reeder
On Wednesday we went on exchanges with the Goa 2nd sisters - I went in their area with Sister Webster and Sister Farnes stayed in our area with Sister Morales.  I am so proud of sister Farnes she has been such a trooper through all the pandemonium of exchanges and traveling.  I am so grateful for her.  We have transfer announcements on Saturday and I will be so sad to transfer away from her. It is quite remarkable how close you can get to someone in a short amount of time. It is also fun to go on splits with the other sisters. It’s hard because we really are not teaching enough in our own area and it stresses me out but the lord is blessing us. This week I was with Sister Webster on splits. I love her so much! We have gotten really close and it was fun to be together the whole day. Sometimes I feel like I can’t do it all but somehow things work out.

On Saturday Sister Corazon Loma was baptized! It was such an incredible experience. It was one of the most spiritual baptisms I have been a part of. So wonderful! 

Corazon Loma
When I first got to this area six months ago, she was one of the first people I taught. At that time we taught about the Book of Mormon and I remember leaving the lesson so happy and full of hope.  Over the following months we extended a baptismal goal date for her which she agreed to and then cancelled, telling us she was not ready.  She then experienced heavy pressure to not continue taking the lessons from her mother who is a devout catholic.  The ups and downs continued as we tried to teach her and her seven sons about the Restored Gospel.  I remember perfectly the day we sat on a small wooden bench and she explained to us that she knew this was the truth.  Her sons were throwing rocks at a lizard in a tree. We were a sweaty in the summer heat and our hearts were full as this wonderful woman shared her testimony of the truth. Even though she would be the only one and her family didn’t support her; she knew it was right and she was ready.  

Sister Loma and Her Boys
On Saturday after her baptism she went up to bare her testimony and was overcome with emotion.  She could barely speak through her tears.  After she asked what that was and we explained it was the spirit and that it was common for people to cry when they feel the spirit.  She expressed thanks to the Sisters for being patient.  She said she knew there would be more trials because she is the only one in her family but that she also knows she has now entered Gods kingdom and so she will continue on.  I gave her my pink skirt so she would have something to wear for her confirmation.  I was thinking about how there is a new journey for that pink skirt.  I hope when she wears it she will think of a blonde missionary who loves her very much and can’t wait to see her again.  I had a picture of our family in the front of my Tagalog scriptures and they loved to look at it so I gave it to them.  I noticed last week that they had put it in the front of their Tagalog scriptures.  I am so grateful for the path that has led me to work with people like Corazon Loma.  

Since the 4th is one of my favorite holidays I insisted we have a party.  We decided the easiest American food would be french toast.  Our two filipinas loved it!!! We sang the national anthem and I felt such gratitude for the freedom of religion and for the 2 cultures that I now feel I belong to.  I love being here and am so grateful for the wonderful experiences I am having.  

Sister Webster
Well, more exchanges to come this week.  Never a dull moment.  We are living life to the fullest and loving every minute!!! 
Tell Chad and Kristin thanks for the surprise. I loved it.

I love you all and hope you are having a wonderful summer! 
mahal ko kayo love from the pines

Sister Meish   

Monday, July 1, 2013

Wax Candles and Wet Scriptures

Happy 4th of July!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! in advance of course.  we have already fully planned out our 4th of july party food.  We are thinking of maybe a Denny's Grandslam breakfast because a hamburger bbq just really isn’t possible haha.  

So much happened this week.  We left for Libmanan early on Tuesday morning and after traveling for 5 hours we arrived at the sisters 3 story pink and blue apartment.  We had a wonderful time.  On Tuesday we went with two sisters that are both from Pakistan; Sister Pervaiz and Sister Sharif.  They are amazing and both had to learn english and tagalog... I am just grateful I don’t have to learn Urdo (their native language.) Sister Sharif would carry a Book of Mormon in Urdo, Tagalog and English to all of our appointments.  I am so impressed with her.  Then on Wednesday we went with sister Sanft and Sister Andres.  Sis Sanft is from Hawaii and taught me how to hula in the kitchen after planning meeting on Wednesday night.  Sister Andres, who was my temp companion is from Quezon City and speaks incredible English. She also studied in Hawaii for 3 years. I kept getting mad at her for speaking english - I need to take advantage of speaking 24 hours of Tagalog again.  The exchange was complete with a trip to 7-11 for slurpees. Who knew there were 7-11’s in the Philippines.  What a fantastic find. 


While we were in Libmana I was able to meet a woman named sister Rebuckuio.  If the production team for "I'm a morman" come here, they need to make a stop in Libmanan and create a profile about this woman.  She is the mother of 4 boys and 1 girl and is 100% blind.  She still cooks and cleans for them and is very active in the gospel.  Before we began to talk about member missionaries we sang "the lord is my light."  Sister Rebuckio knew every word. I thought how applicable this song is for this sweet woman whose world and literal eye sight are only filled with shadows.  

"The lord is my light, tho clouds may arise, faith stronger than sight looks up thru the skies.... The lord is my light, my all and in all.  There is in his sight no darkness at all.  He is my Redeemer my Savior and king."


When I walked into this woman's small home she asked me to describe myself, nationality, height - basic physical appearance. She would not see me for who I am physically; only spiritually and for the kind of message I could bring into their home. I realized that when the Lord is our light we have perfect sight. Sister Rebuckio has no vision for things of the world but can see perfectly her Savior and his path for her and her children.  It is this spiritual sight that gives her a reason to endure.  I think that when we have spiritual sight we can see past the dark shadows.  We can see over the hills that stand in our way because we trust in God and his plan for us.  

In John 14 we are given this promise: 

17: Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you and shall be in you.

 18 I will not leave you acomfortless: I will bcome to you.

 19 Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also.

We will never be left alone if we are seeking our Savior.  On Saturday morning we got a text from the zone leaders saying that our area was in a Tropical Storm Warning - Category 2. Later on in the day the winds and rains were predicted to pick up as the tropical storm gained speed. We were told to still work but to be safe, smart and listen to the spirit.  Oh yeah and make sure our 72 hr kits were stocked.  We had to go out to one of our farthest areas because sister Loma's Baptismal interview was the next day and we hadn’t been able to get out there due to exchanges.  Around 5 pm the rains and winds picked up and two American girls found themselves trudging through mid calf deep water trying to get back to the main highway. Rain was literally coming from all directions and my already broken umbrella went from about 20% affective to 0% affective.  The electricity was out everywhere and we stood on the pitch black highway fighting off the typhoon with nothing more than wire on our umbrella. We tried to get passing buses to see us.  Soaking wet, we finally made it home and were able to heat up water on our gas stove and take warm bucket showers.  That was by far the coldest I have been in the Pines. Sister Farnes just laughed at me and told me I am going to die in SLC.  It was such an adventure. Our scriptures and pera (money) are still lying in front of the fan trying to dry. I really love living here! Never a dull day. I honestly think I have never laughed so hard in my life.  

Sister Loma passed her interview yesterday!! To think that only a few months ago she was trying to avoid us; it is amazing what wonderful progress that family has made.  John Paul was given the priesthood yesterday and is so excited to be able to pass the sacrament.  

We sent our last good bye text to the Bliesners on Sunday.  Tomorrow sister Farnes and I head to Naga for Mission Leadership Training where we get to meet the Reeders! It will be so fun to meet them and I feel a little spoiled that we get to meet them early and in a much more personal setting.  Then on Friday we head back to Naga with the whole mission for the "meet the President Conference."  On Wednesday we have exchanges with 1 set of the Goa 2 sisters.  It will be fun to see more of the area around Goa.  Things are so busy but so fun.  

We were able to watch the missionary broadcast last night.  I loved every minute of it! The brethren have such a wonderful vision of where missionary work can go.  I had chills during the video segment about missionary work; thinking of my family that is spread throughout the world wearing the name of our Savior. One of my favorite things was from the bishop in one of the wards that Elder Anderson visited.  He said: "we are just a group of imperfect people but this is his work and he will not let us fail.  He works upon our faith."  We are all imperfect; there is no perfect teacher or perfect person, but if we just try the Lord helps us and strengthens us.  It was such a boost of energy and despite the many ways I feel incompetent, somehow I know there will be a way to succeed; as long as the Lord remains my light.  

Happy Happy 4th. Eat a nice juicy hamburger for me. We will probably be lighting as many matches but not for fireworks. Ours will be to light our house. :)  


mahal ko kayo

Sister Meish