Monday, March 14, 2011

3/1/2011 Hermana Christensen

hello my querida familia.

i feel really calm and peaceful as i'm writing you, which is abnormal. usually it's a cluster and i'm real rushed.. but today i just feel still.

i've been having trouble sleeping lately, but it's not anything i need help with. my mind is just so full and i hear my watch beep several times before i fall asleep; this past week has been hard. in a beautiful way. a beautiful kind of hard? that. my heart... ah, just feels so full. i have been absolutely blown away by the.. by the time, by the changes, and by the LOVE that i feel. I dont' know how to explain what i'm feeling. I just feel like life is moving so quickly and all these changes are coming so quickly and making me realize how overflowingly FULL my little heart is and how grateful i am for this singular opportunity to be on a mission, and be a representative of christ.

 my eight hermanas left this morning. i've been worried about it; it's difficult to describe how close i've gotten to them over this short little time, and--once again--i just don't do so great with change. but heavenly father is so gracious and has heard my pleadings and has enlightened my mind on how i can improve, how i can be happy despite all these changes, and how i can help those around me and be the example for these new sisters. it's bizzare to think that i'm now to the point in my mission where these new sisters tomorrow will see me like i saw my eight. once again, what is time? the point is that heavenly father strengthens us when we ask and when we need it. we don't realize when we have it all--we just don't recognize that stability until it's gone. we're all in different places in our lives, but we HAVE to appreciate it because it will soon be over and we won't have it again. i have mixed feelings about the line, "live the mission with no regrets," but i think that definitely applies here. no regrets my friends. cherish those who are around you!

One of my favorite parts in preach my gospel says that we receive answers to our prayers por sentimientos y pensamientos--thoughts and feelings--and that we receive personal revelation as we read the scriptures. that has been happening to me so much this past week! this morning was particularly enlightening and EXACTLy what i needed. go read almoa 34:17-19, 27, 38. i bet we'll all see it differently. i love the scriptures. my time to read and study them is like gold. those of you in the land of perpetual preparation days... oh, please be drinking deeply from your scripts!

i realized last week that i always write in my journal about how the work is going and that i don't really keep you all super tuned in. you always ask, but i just feel like/assume you know. so i realized i need to be better about that since you're so wonderful about keeping me up to date--which i am SO grateful for! hands down, i love my little branch. my? ha ha. but i love them. so much! they are so strong and such good missionaries! we have a beautiful area and just such neat people to work with. they are all so generous--yesterday i was given a coat. like a literal coat, from hermana garcia, the rs president and her family. remember how everyone told me how it was always 75 in sd? false. and i've been on the coldy side, but haven't had the desire to buy a coat. well, she gave me one! and it's BEAUTIFUL. i just can't get over how GOOD people are. sister mendoza is awesome. she's such a strong missionary and teaches me so much! she's jumped right into the work. the program is going well and we are both learning a ton as we study these new fundamental principles that will make up the new preach my gospel. it is definitely inspired. we're blessed to get an extra hour of studying--which we sometimes get because of the battalion haha--but we feel like heavenly father makes up the difference with what we don't get. our investigators are... they are AWESOME they are just using their agency to choose the right much much muuuuch more slowly than we'd like, but i'm trying to have a vision of this work for these people. i don't know if i ever shared this--but when i was in chula vista, my old district leader was hounding us to get a vision for the work, a long term view of the work. so we were praying for some answers, and i started having these almost-visions of people dressed in temple clothes. wow. goosebumps. it took me a little while, but then i realized that was my vision. a little while i heard that our investigators need to see the temple spires from the baptismal font. is this sounding familiar? anyway, the temple. i'm trying to have that vision, that goal in mind as we have these poco investigadores who aren't erally progressing. the kingdom of god or nothing! we'll get em! and the battalion... ahhh i love the battalion. it is my haven. it's like the one constancy in my mission. the other day i was pretty down, and in walks this guy with an awesome accent. (remember how i wanted to serve in austria/deutschland? well heavenly father is so gracious to send them to me in the place that's actually where i need to be. what a tm!) even just hearing their thick german accent makes my heart race, not to mention that eckhaut and his wife pedra were the NICEST germans i've ever met, but they just... how they were uplifted me. i know that they were sent to me in that moment from heavenly father so he could be like, "hey, hermana, it's okay. keep going. be happy. these two will cheer you up and remind you of my love for you. and for them. they need the gospel! get to it!" ha. so they referred and my freund schwester sister mccall in berlin may just get the referral to drop das buch mormon off at their house....!

i'm tellin you. i'm all over the place. but i have a testimony. and i am GRATEFUL. i can't believe all these emotions fit inside me, but they do. i am so thankful for this gift, this precious time to be a missionary and feel this consuming love. i can't even imagine what our heavenly father feels! i love Him. i love His plan. i love my Savior and His gospel. i am so thankful for the way. I know that there is only one way, and that my fellow sanDiegans are being prepared for us to throw down. i love being a missionary. it is SO cliche to say that it's the hardest but the best (i used to haaaaate when people said that! is there really nothing else they can say?!)--but no, there really are no other words. i didn't know how hard it would be or how it would be hard, nor did i understand how incredibly good and satisfying and wonderful it would be. i am just so thankful. thank you for supporting me to come out on a mission and for all your support thus far!

ay, this is long. i'm sorry. a few things:

*tomorrow is transfers. we're safe for another one because of the pilot. but as of april whatever anything's fair game.

*our new mission president will be balla (as broseph would say). turns out his wife is elder ballard's daughter. nbd. aka no big deal. president donaldson is such a stud though, and i will always and forevermore be grateful that he agreed to be my mission president in the preexistence because i've needed him. ah, sorry, quick story time. do you remember the semester i got back from austria--my first winter semester at byu? you probably don't. you thought i was crazy because i signed up for way early classes? well i signed up for them not only to avoid many a people driving in the snow, but i always wanted to get to campus early because i felt like--my WHOLE time in austria--that the spirit was really prompting me to study the atonement... i was filled with such desire to understand it more fully and it just.. i couldn't stop thinking about it. so i would get to campus at like 7 or whatever and just read all these books about the atonement. i learned a LOT, but i didn't learn how it applied to me. president donaldson has focused SO MUCH on the atonement, and i am only just beginnnnnnnnnnning to see it and understand it. but that's only because he's focused on it so much. i bet all mission presidents talk about the atonement (hopefully), but none do it like he does. all the hebrew and greek and... AH. get out. heavenly father has prepared the way for us. my pbless says that he has prepared the "times and the bounds of my habitation here," and i am certain that includes the timing of being here with him JUST so i can learn a little more about the atonement. and about that--go read 1ne 9:6. He's in charge. Heavenly father that is.

*connan and kris are awesome--they totally made my day in the battalion! tell them thanks!

i'm so glad that everyone is well. the pictures are all adorable. it's unreal to me that she's real. and the kitty? wow. i have no idea. see? life is just changing! for that i'm grateful to be on the mission and be immune to all of it. it just doesn't feel real to me. i'm just in this little bubble, and i am happy to be here. so happy.

i love you all deeply. be expecting some visits from sisters story and ploeger. :)

hermana christensen

joan you cute sweet thing i'm holding a letter from you. stop outdoing yourself! i know it's tiring to write letters so don't stress about it! i just saw the most adorable woman at the grocery store that looked just like you! i love you mucho gusto and am excited to read your letter! stay strong and healthy and WARM!!!

all of us at the thomas' for a bbq