Monday, December 26, 2011

12/26/2011 Elder Christensen "Bah Humbug!"

White elephant extravaganza. Its two pictures
 because its two tables full of gifts!
 Merrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrryyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy Christmas to you all!!!!!!!!!! Man it`s still too dang weird to have a hot Christmas. This is the 3rd hot Christmas of my life and I still don`t really know what to think of it. Once again this year I forgot on various occasions that it was even Christmas.. only to be reminded by some ghetto decor and the smell of beer. Haha. Actually I think this has been one of the best Christmases I`ve ever had. The ward has been really..... warm.. Does that work? They´ve just LOVED us. We got a mountain of gifts as well from the members which is something I never had even thought of! Everything from ties to scripture cases to MOUNTAINS of food. I honestly was blown away by them... everyone... not to mention the spirit of Christ that they have really determines the way they live their Christmas. It`s interesting to see the difference between the members and the non members.... the difference in both spirit and atmosphere only separated by a chain link fence. We, being members of Christ`s church, have EVERYTHING it seems like. I dunno... kinda weird to describe. I just love our gospel and what it does in our lives. On Christmas eve and Christmas day we just shared with all the members we possibly could about the Atonement.. Although we went with roughly the same lesson plan for every one, the lessons all turned out different and special for different reasons. We also tried to sing all the Christmas songs we possibly could with EVERYONE. As I`ve written in previous letters, the Spirit of Christmas is the spirit of Christ... and we tried to take it to EVERYONE during this special time. Excellent.
As a mission, we got together in a chapel here in la cisterna. WOW it was hotttt there honesty. 180 missionaries in a fairly small chapel. We listened to talks, choirs of missionaires, and watched " A Christmas Carol" together. Man WHY have I never seen that movie??! Honestly I loved it. Simple story but it has a very powerful message. This man HATED Christmas... you could even go far enough to say that he hated charity... but as he was reminded of his past and saw things in the present and future, he changed. He promised himself to remember Christmas forever... Past, present, and future. Thats honestly something that each of us could do. Obviously we won`t keep the tree and lights up year round but we CAN maintain that same spirit and respect for what our Savior, Jesus Christ did for us. Thats something I plan on doing... In turn, I believe that will help us live with a spirit of Gratitude like the prophet has asked.

One little thought I`d like to share before I wrap up, about the atonement... I find it very interesting that in verse 11 it says.... "laying it aside.."

11 And now remember, my son, if it were not for the plan of redemption, (laying it aside) as soon as they were dead their souls were miserable, being cut off from the presence of the Lord.

12 And now, there was no means to reclaim men from this fallen state, which man had brought upon himself because of his own disobedience;

13 Therefore, according to justice, the plan of redemption could not be brought about, only on conditions of repentance of men in this probationary state, yea, this preparatory state; for except it were for these conditions, mercy could not take effect except it should destroy the work of justice. Now the work of justice could not be destroyed; if so, God would cease to be God.

14 And thus we see that all mankind were fallen, and they were in the grasp of justice; yea, the justice of God, which consigned them forever to be cut off from his presence.

15 And now, the plan of mercy could not be brought about except an atonement should be made; therefore God himself atoneth for the sins of the world, to bring about the plan of mercy, to appease the demands of justice, that God might be a perfect, just God, and a merciful God also.

Elders Monsen, Christensen, and CRIST... The Utah 3 Party. At the Christmas Party.
 The atonement is amazing... My understanding of that great merciful act is one of the key pillars of my personal testimony as a member of this church. Sometimes, we as members, "Lay it aside", we take Christ and his atonement for granted... We sin. We stray from the straight and narrow path.... But, at one point or another, we recognize once again how NECESSARY the atonement is in our lives.... As the scriptures say, without it, we have no way to be reclaimed. We have no way to be rescued. The entire plan of salvation is voided.... What a miracle it is to have a Father in heaven who loves us.... as John 3:16 says, he loves us SO much that he sacrificed his SON for us.... so that WE could have eternal life. Amazing. Bliss. Love. That is how I`m feeling during this time of the year. Grateful.. Maybe I even feel a little bad because I`ve neglected these same feelings for YEARS. Being a missionary has opened my eyes and changed the way I see with them. I used to trade time with the family or friends for time playing xbox or even just time alone. I would think about myself... what I needed. What I could do. Why I wasn`t happy. But now, I don`t even know who I am anymore. I hope to never re-discover that either. I`m happy with who I am now. I`m happy with what I`m doing now... I KNOW that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is GODS KINGDOM ON THE EARTH. I know it. I know that he sent his son as a great part of his eternal and loving plan for us. I know that through Christ and his atonement, we can once again find the peace and joy that is eternal... That lasts... I know that the backpack of pain, sorrow, and grief, can be taken from our shoulders if we just submit ourselves to our fathers will and agree to take it off.... to live a higher law. That is why we make covenants.... to sign the contract and agree to change. It`s so clear to me... it`s so perfect to me. I`m converted. This is the best time of the year to really count your many blessings and plan for the future. So do it. Kneel down and thank Heavenly father for all of your blessings, then, by the spirit, set some worthwhile goals for this year. If its by the spirit, it`s God`s will. Remember that. Bueno. I`m wayyy outta time now... but I love you all. I wish you all a Merry Christmas (belated), and a Happy new year.

Christmas BREAKFAST! Actually I made that today
 because I wasn`t hungry on Christmas Morning... Haha.

Much love,

Elder Christensen.