Monday, December 26, 2016

This week has been so full of joy!

Hello Everybody!!! 

I hope you all had the BEST Christmas in the whole entire world! I know I sure did!!! 
This week has been so full of joy! And the Light of Christ!!! Ahhh, I could just cry it was so perfect!!! So a sum up of my Christmas, I felt so much love of my Savior, so much love shared through all of our members and investigators! And so much love from my Heavenly Father!!!! So much love shared singing hymns to the elderly, sharing stories of the life of Christ with everyone, and seeing all the love in all the sweet simple gifts of time, love, and friendship! Rauquen has my heart! I love my life!!! 

Christmas Eve at members' home

Christmas Eve dinner

With that being said, I just wanted to let you all know how much I love my Savior Jesus Christ. It literally astonishes me every time I think about all the love he must have for us, to be able to carry out the Atonement, and there is SO much power in the atonement! God loves us so much! So incredibly much! I literally don´t even understand how much he loves us! I know without a doubt he is in every single little detail of our lives! Every second of everyday! I love this gospel so much! It is the only way! There´s just no other way! 

WOOOHOO!!! But I will be staying here for another cambio in Rauquen with my amazing companion! AHHH I AM SO EXCITED!!! We have so much work to do! We are ready to bring in this New Year with a BANG!!!! Watch out Curico! Hermana Christensen y Hermana Gardanier 2.0 are coming in strong!!! :) 

I don´t have much to say, but just that I love you all so much! I love this gospel with all of my heart! My mission has completely changed my life, and I am so so so incredibly grateful that I still have lots of chances to share the love of Christ, and share my testimony with literally every person here in Chile! I love my Savior, and I love you all! 

Happy New Year! 
Hermana Christensen :) 

Here is a little email I got on Christmas Eve:  "Hello, my name is K., I am 14 years old, I am a young member of the church in the current sector of her daughter, Sister Christensen. Our family invited to celebrate Christmas to your daughter and her companion, Sister Gardanier. I am very grateful for your wonderful daughter, she is a great person, certainly an example to follow. We had a dinner and then we gave them their presents, it has been a real pleasure to share this beautiful occasion with a member of your family. We hope you are well and make a beautiful time. Thank you for letting your daughter preach the gospel. I love you very much Christensen Family, I hope to meet you. Goodbye with love, K."
Christmas breakfast

Christmas cookeis

Ilumina El Mundo hoodies

Little gifts to give out

Christmas Skype!

Monday, December 19, 2016

Coros celestiales, Ninja Ashley, and a crazy adventure with life-sized dolls!

Hello Everybody!! 

This week has been crazy! From highs to lows, but it´s all good! I am so excited to continue working hard this week of Christmas!! The mission is magical during December I decided!!! I love love LOVE my Savior Jesus Christ and this gospel so much! And I love sharing the hope he gives with every person! I am so lucky to be a missionary! 

Wow. This week has been a rollercoaster!! But it´s been so good! So we found out definitely that E and O, their marriage papers, well turns out they actually weren´t married, but they went to get a marriage date in the Civil, and they are getting married the 15th of February! So that´s good! They participated in the Christmas program in the ward, they are practically members! But that´s okay! We are just going to try to keep them good until February!! 

This week was so full of miracles! Somehow the Holy Ghost inspired me and my companion on the same day to read about faith, and he pumped us up a little bit! We set some high goals! Especially with the Book of Mormon with return appointments! And we set out! With hearts full of faith! We talked to EVERY person! And at the end of the day we had two new investigators and we had 5 return appointments with people who we gave the Book of Mormon!!! All we did was pray with faith and work! God really wants to bless us!! It´s just us that sometimes get in the way! It really amazes me how much we are capable of doing with God´s help, we really have unlimited potential! But we limit ourselves! Just imagine all the miraculous things we can accomplish according to our faith!!  But I KNOW when we pray with faith, he always fulfills! So it´s like, why am I not praying with that much faith in every prayer?! I don´t know! Haha I don´t!! But I am truly astonished with how much the Lord loves us! He loves us so much!!! In every little detail of my life I see his love! In fact, the reason we are here, the reason for Christ, the reason for this earth, plan, the Atonement, and everything, is because God just loves us that much! As we grow to understand his love, it´s impossible not to love him back! I love the Lord with all my heart!!! :) 

I hope you guys all have the most wonderful Christmas! Keep showing your love for the Lord, and I promise he will show even more love for you as you do so! He just loves you that much!!! 

I love you all! Have the best week! 

All my love, 
 Hermana Christensen :) 

Of her Christmas zone conference, Ashley said, "OH MY HEAVENS!  IT WAS THE BEST DAY EVER!  So cute!  So much fun!  So much spirit!  So much love!  Oh my, I love singing, I've decided!  We went to the old folks home and oh my, they were the CUTEST people ever!  I LOVED talking to them!  They are amazing!  So sweet!  And the program turned out great!  I will never forget the solo my compi did to "Mando a su Hijo".  Ahh! So good!  And then...the MOST POWERFUL MOMENT!  We sang "Savior Redeemer of my Soul" in Spanish and Hermana Harris played her violin and OH MY, I'VE NEVER FELT THE SPIRIT SO STRONG!  It brought tears to my eyes!  And everyone's!  We were singing with our whole souls!  Elder C, President, Hna. S, Elder Y., and everyone was crying because it was SO powerful! It was literally one of those moments that you never want to leave!  That you could re-live a million times.  In the end where it says, "And fit me for the life above" I just imagined all of us up in heaven singing for our Savior and our Heavenly Father, "Coros Celestiales", singing praises!"

And I just have to share a couple of great stories that Ashley's companion shared in her email this week!  (They were also in Ashley's journal, but Hermana G.'s version of the stories are already typed up!):
 Yesterday was so crazy! We gave away 5 copies of the Book of Mormon with appointments to return. It was amazing to see what God is willing to do when we ask and are willing to do what He requires. We prayed so many times throughout the day to find more and more people.
  We contacted this house and a lady named Mary came out. She had the door ½ opened but 4 dogs inside were all trying to escape, so she got rid of the noise and distraction to talk to us by shutting the door. We talked for a little, gave her a BoM and said goodbye. Then she turned around and realized what she had done. The keys were inside. The thing about the front doors in Chile is that they don’t have door handles. If it is shut, you have to put the key in and use the key as a door handle. But the keys were inside. AND she hadn’t opened the gate outside so she was stuck in the tiny space between her front door and the gate where we were standing. She had just got done telling us that her daughter lives here but she doesn’t get home from work until midnight… It was 5:00 in the afternoon… so even though we already said bye – we couldn’t just leave her. As we looked around for a solution, it took 2 seconds to tell my companion that the window on the upstairs floor was open. It took less than 1 second for Hermana Christensen to climb the gate, get onto the roof, climb across a burning hot roof, jump through the window, run downstairs, open the door, and save the day. Mary was so happy and grateful that even being in a skirt, she was willing to climb to the roof to save the day. [Ashley added in her account, "Then...the moment of truth..a stranger- a foreigner- alone in the house with 4 barking dogs! AHH!  I almost died, but managed to open the door and escape without a scratch!  That's right, I'm practically a ninja!"] The good news is 2 girls saw and were laughing so afterwards we walked over to them and used the incident as an icebreaker and they both ended up being super interested in the church. God’s plan is perfectly detailed. 

 Hermana J. called us so we headed over to her house which is at the very back corner of our sector. She told us that she was cleaning out her stuff and found 2 dolls and thought that the daughters of O. and E. (J.and S.) would love them as a Christmas present. She told us that we could take the dolls to our apartment, clean them up, and give them to J. and S. We agreed and followed her to where she was keeping the dolls. Well I had imagined that the dolls were Barbie dolls, but to my surprise, no. They weren’t Polly Pocket size, not baby sized, not even those baby dolls that Lindsay used to push around in her mini stroller. They were real life toddler sized. One is 2 feet tall and the other is a solid yard stick tall! I’m 99% sure that they are taller than J. and S. Still, they will LOVE the dolls. As we thanked Hermana J. and said goodbye, we looked at our watches and realized that we had to be in the apartment in 10 minutes and we were at least 15 minutes away. So we hurried up and put on our helmets and reflector jackets and then quickly realized that these dolls were not going to fit in our baskets. So without time to think of a better plan, we each took a doll in our one arm while driving the bike with the other. We started hauling to be able to make it back in time. – And OH MY GOODNESS – the looks we got were PRICELESS! Just imagine: 2 North Americans, speed racing on beach cruisers, with skirts, wearing helmets that were never meant for public appearance, with hideous fluorescent jackets that reflect every light, in a time of year where EVERY house is lit, CARRYING 2 SMALL CHILDREN (half dressed). I can’t say that I blame them for looking twice, or honking 6 times, or the taxi driver that drove next to us yelling, “THE DOLL’S PANTS ARE FALLING DOWN” for a solid minute straight. I hope people will talk to us tomorrow… But it all paid off when we got back to the apartment (on time BTW, super impressive), and put the dolls up against the door of the other Hermana’s room. I’m pretty sure the family in Utah heard the scream of Hermana Ellingson. I would say that today was a success.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Thank you, thank you, thank you! And a Thanksgiving tender mercy story!

Wooooohooooo another AMAZING week in the best country in the whole wide world!!! :) I love Chile! SO much! 

But first I wanted to say thank you thank you thank you so much for all the birthday wishes! I felt so much love from everyone! You can ask anyone, I was the happiest lil’ missionary the day of my birthday! We even bought ice cream from the states to celebrate at night! :) 
Birthday Fun!

But wow. So much has happened this week! I don´t even know! All I know is I am so happy to be a missionary! And it doesn´t matter what´s ahead because with faith, anything can happen! :) And will happen! Haha :)

Okay so with O. and E., E. wants to get baptized.  He´s so ready! But O. is getting more and more depressed with everything going on in her life, and there´s been some crazy things happening ... so we are going to talk with them today to see what´s going on! Oh man. Chile is crazy. 

But on the bright side, our investigator S. talked to her husband and he´s totally okay with getting married, so they are going to get married! And that is great because she wants to get baptized! AHHHH I love the gospel! And M., our investigator with 8 years wants to get baptized too! And 2 Haitians just moved to our sector that the Hermanas were teaching and they accepted the invitation to baptism too! THE WHOLE WORLD WANTS TO GET BAPTIZED!!! It´s so incredible!!! I love missionary work! It´s so crazy! I feel like we don´t do anything, and these incredible people just pop up out of nowhere!!! God is so perfect! :) 

But we are praying so much for O., and E., I didn´t know before my mission it was possible to love others so much in so little time! I love them, and I just feel so blessed God has let me feel a little bit of the love he feels for them. This gospel is amazing! And oh so true! I love my Savior! I feel so privileged to stand as a witness of him at all times! 

Keep sharing the light with everyone around you! I promise if you do, you will find the light of Christ in you! I love you guys SO MUCH, YOU CAN´T IMAGINE!!!! Thank you thank you!!! 

All the love in this Chilean´s heart, 

Hermana Christensen :) 

A Thanksgiving Tender Mercy:
****The first part of this story is taken from Ashley's journal pages a couple of weeks ago and the second part is from her friend's email***

Ashley:  ".....We went another way to get back to the street we needed and we were literally talking about how PERFECT God's timing is!  And just wait... a car passed up and then stopped and said, "Hermanas!" and we were like, what?  It was a returned missionary that served in Ranquen 6 years ago and he was with his wife, going around his mission!  They're from Utah!  And we were all talking in English and it was SO COOL!  His name was Elder Doxey and they were SO nice!  They asked us for cards to give out and stuff!  And in the end the wife was like, "Here, take a snack!" and she gave us fruit snacks from the States!  And said "Happy Thanksgiving from Utah!" AWWW!  It really hit the heart!  And they said they are always praying for the missionaries in Chile!  Well, we left and we were like, GOD LOVES US SO MUCH!  We were literally talking about how perfect God's timing is, and then we ran into them!  They were SO excited!  They were hoping to run into some missionaries! And they offered to give us a ride anywhere.  They were SO nice!  God really loves us!"

And I got this from one of Ashley's very best friends, Karina Holt, in her missionary email:

Karina:  "Okay, you’re not gonna believe this: On Thursday [Thanksgiving] at 3:30pm we leave the house, go to a house and the lesson falls through, so we go to the main street to go to our next lesson. Then out of the blue some gringos in a car are like "HERMANAS."They were this really cute young married couple. This man, Elder Doxey was talking to us because when he served his mission he worked in the sector next door, but lived in our sector, where anciently there were Elders. Well, he said he from Pleasant Grove, and I was like "No way, I’m from Lindon"! Then his cute wife was like, "NO WAY, this morning we were in Ranquen and talked with a missionary from Lindon too, but she’s in the Rancagua Mission". I was like, “Was it Hermana Christensen?” She said YES, and then I freaked out 'cause I was like, that's my best friend!!!! IT’S A SMALL WORLD!!! They were nice, wished us a Happy Thanksgiving and gave us granola bars from the States. But it was crazy to think that someone saw Ashley then me in the same day...we are so close, man! Also, they laughed because I asked them if they knew Lindsey Doxey, and they said “Hermana Christensen asked the same thing...” We’re just the same person!"

  ***For those of you that don't know, Karina and Ashley have been friends since we moved here when she was 5.  They've grown up together and they were college roommates at BYU before their missions.  Ashley got her mission call to the Chile Rancagua Mission and then a month later, Karina got her mission call to the Chile Conception Mission, which borders Ashley's mission to the south.  So even though they are fairly close geographically in Chile, they have not seen each other since they both left on their missions in January!  The fact that out of all the missionaries in Ashley's mission they ran into ASHLEY and then out of all the missionaries in Karina's mission, they happened to run into KARINA, and both on the SAME DAY and on THANKSGIVING of all days, is truly miraculous and I believe, a "tender mercy" from God!
Karina and Ashley after Karina's farewell back in January!

Monday, December 5, 2016

Happy 20th Birthday! "This year has been a year of the most growth in probably my whole life!"

Ashley didn’t have time to write an email letter this week (I think because she was responding to birthday greetings), but she did send me her journal pages, so I will share a little from those!  She is super happy, she LOVES her companion and she says that the Lord has really blessed this past week. One thing she shared in her journal this week is her testimony.

 “This year has been a year of the most growth in probably my whole life!  I left on a mission and I thought I left to help others, and I have, but more than anything I feel that the Lord has helped me.  He has opened my eyes and heart to really understand and feel the realness of this gospel in a way I have never felt before!  I have seen so many hearts touched, and lives changed from this gospel.  I have seen my life change completely!  I know God is my Heavenly Father, and He loves me SO SO much!  So many times I have been astonished by the love He has for me!  He has a perfect plan for me and He is always giving me second chances, moments of hope and he’s placing people in my path to help me get back to him!  But the biggest reason why I know He loves me SO much is because He has sent his son, his perfect son, to suffer for me so I could have someone who perfectly understood my challenges, my problems and my weaknesses in a way that no one else can understand.  The atonement of Christ is real.  If there’s one thing I know it’s that there is power in the atonement of Christ.  And I have felt it, I have seen it, I have lived it, and I can’t deny it!  And because of the grace of God, and mercy of this plan, I can be happy!  I can have hope!  And I am happy!  

I feel joy in my life every day!  And nothing brings me more joy than sharing this light that I have discovered!  I never thought I could be so happy!  I love this gospel!  I know it is true!  I am so grateful to know it!  I know the Book of Mormon is true and that God talks to his children today!  He is a God of miracles!  I see miracles every day of my life!  I am a disciple of Christ!  And I know I am far from perfect, but I know the Lord really blesses me in my efforts to be obedient and keep his commandments!  I just love Him.  I just love Him so much!  It’s true!  It’s just all true!  There’s no other way to be so happy!  And that’s my lil’ testimony!”  J

And one more excerpt from her journal:

…It’s just little things like that that make the mission amazing!  I feel like I don’t have crazy huge miracles or anything but man, it’s a sequence of mini miracles constantly!  I can’t believe it!  I found B!  Her face lit up when we shared the Book of Mormon with her!  And we contacted this lady, who was awesome and really Christian, and she was going to let us in, but she couldn’t find her keys.  And she was calling her husband and everything.  So I said a little prayer of faith in my head and 2 seconds later I heard, “Oh, here they are!” and I had just finished my prayer!  I can’t even believe it!  And yesterday!  Talk about miracles!  Hermana R is amazing!  She wanted us to contact her neighbors with her!  And at one home, the whole family came out and we watched the Christmas video!  And we are going to visit them next week!....”

Her roommates surprised her with some birthday cake to the face!
Cake Face Ashley!