Tuesday, April 23, 2013

April 23, 2013, Final Message

Dear Faj, Mom, Kai, Niels, Finn, Lars and all my bestie cousins, aunts, uncles, grandma/grandpa, and friends,

Oh man. I can't believe I'm leaving my mission. It's the most surreal feeling in the entire world. I felt like I would be on my mission for 7 years, at least, so it's crazier than crazy that it's actually coming up. Faj, duh, would love it if Aunt Grady came to the airport.

Gah, don't even know what to write. And also only have like 13 minutes because we've got to catch an early train to Taipei. My mission president is the best and is letting me go visit zhongli before I go. So I have plans to hang with members and old investigators all day.

The past couple weeks have been great. Last week, we saw a lot of miracles and a lot of new investigators. Even though I wasn't perfect, I tried hard to stay focused, and it's hard to not stay focused because you're still just out doing all the same missionary stuff, every day. On Sunday, the entire Ma family (including grandma and grandpa) showed up to church. I was so happy to see all of them. We visited them last night, and they knew it was my last time to see them. We talked about prophets and temples. We had a cute, young grandpa member come with us - he really hits if off with the Ma grandpa because they are both aboriginals. After the lesson, they took pictures of me with them wearing a big aboriginal hat. The grandpa is so precious, and he told us that he's liking church more and more. This family is the greatest. So grateful I could meet them and get to teach them the gospel.

Chen jiemei got confirmed and she is doing so good. Really humble and has a lot of sincere intent.

I love teaching so much. My mission has made me realize even more how much I love teaching. And I really do love teaching people the gospel. It's funny because you teach the same things so much, but you really never get sick of teaching those things.

Oh, man. I feel so weird.

Anyways, I am so grateful everyday for my mission. Even when I have felt tired or stressed or whatever, I'm still so grateful every single day that I'm here and able to serve a mission. I feel like I've truly become converted to the Lord. I feel like before my mission, I had a testimony, but wasn't truly converted. Now I feel like I'm converted and I do things for the right reasons and I love to keep the commandments. They don't feel like a burden at all. I feel like God is more real and tangible than He has ever felt before. I feel like He truly is watching out for me and truly knows what is going on in my life and in everyone's life. My knowledge and testimony of God and the gospel is truly the most important, most special thing I have. I truly know that Jesus Christ lives. I know that because He lived and died for us, we might also live again. I know that this life is not all there is. I absolutely know that the Plan of Salvation is real and true. We will live again, with our families, eternally, if we just do what God commands. I absolutely know that the Book of Mormon is true. I absolutely know that Prophet Monson is the prophet on earth today. He is literally God's spoke's person. Having a prophet on the earth gives me more comfort and guidance than practically anything else. dear family, thanks for all your love and support. So much of my conversion has truly come from your examples, especially of your strength in trial. The examples you have set have made deep impressions in who I am.

Oh, man. Everyone help me be spiritual and not weird when I get home, okay? I love you all dearly.

Sister Natalie Christensen.

ps, kai, come to the airport! love you.
pps, niels. your letter was THE BEST. totally in my scriptures, and i have re-read it like 7 times.

Monday, April 22, 2013

April 15, 2013

Dear Faj, Mom, Kai, Niels, Finn, and Larf.

This week, our investigator Chen jiemei got baptized. I'm really grateful that I've had the privilege of teaching her and getting to know her. She is soft-spoken and dignified. She seeks personal revelation and gets it and really has had a change of heart. When I first met her, she wasn't very faithful (according to her) and seemed like she had a lot of things to work through. I'm not sure if I thought I would see her get baptized. When we first invited her to set a baptismal date, she thought really long and hard about it. But, she has grown and learned so much. And changed so much. It's cool to see the power of God, and the influence the Holy Ghost has on people and how they can literally change. After passing her baptismal interview, she all the sudden started feeling really unpeaceful and uncalm and was really upset. We met with her about every day this week and tried really hard to strengthen her. By the time Saturday came around, she felt calm and ready and excited to get baptized. Her baptismal service was simple and sweet. So, this will be the last baptism I see as a missionary here.

We visited the Ma family on Tuesday night. I was feeling kind of strange in the lesson and like something was up and I needed to figure out what it was. I was trying to cover this other stuff, but at the end I finally asked them how they were feeling about baptism and the oldest son said that his parents told him he needs to wait until he is 18 to get baptized. BUMMER. They want him to focus more on school. That was a big bummer, but they're still doing good. This Sunday, they came to church and watched general conference. Luckily, they watched the session where President Monson talked about the fire in Vivian Canyon and they really liked it. 

This week we had a FHE with our mm leader (love him! so great and so supportive) and his 3 kids and wife and their 3 teenage nephews. We sharaded scripture stories, and I loved being with a bunch of loud, rowdy teenage boys. Made me miss you boys. kai, niels, finn, lars. At the end of the lesson, one of them accidentally exploded a squishy ball thing, so white goop exploded over everything.

This week, I went on exchanges twice. Once in my area with Taidong sisters, and once in Hualian with Sister Huang. I still love Sister Huang. She's one of the funniest people I've ever met in my life. Last night she was getting mad at us for flushing our toilet paper down the toilet (a lot of Taiwanese people don't flush their toilet paper) and we were like, "No way are we not flushing it!" She was getting all worked up and was like, "C'mon!" Oh, man, I'll do impersonations of her when I get home. She's the best. Anyway, we went to visit one of their investigators, Xu jiemei. She's one of my favorites - she's the one who told her husband they should get baptized because she wanted to be with him forever. She's pregnant, so we/they haven't met with her in a long time because she's been feeling sick, but we just stopped by the other day, and she was there and really happy to see us and visit with us. I love these Taiwanese people. I love sitting with them in their homes and chatting with them and then listening to their concerns and what's going on and then sharing gospel to help them. I hope I always use the gospel to solve all problems in my life. Before my mission, I think i relied more heavily on my own wisdom and on others' advice rather than on the gospel and God. The mission has brought some good changes. Anyway, she's been having some trials and has been really sad and we shared in Jacob, how the people came to hear the pleasing word of God, the word which heals and wounded soul. So beautiful.

This week, we also met with a member's little cousin. She is about 12 and super, SUPER shy. When we asked her to say the closing prayer, she started crying. ah! stressful. But, she's really cute and the member says she has a strong desire to learn and have an eternal family. 

Two Hualian families had us over for dinner on Saturday and Sunday nights for little goodbye dinners. It was great to see so many members and get to hang out with them. I'll miss the power and authority I have as a missionary.

Li Qiu Feng, one of my bestie new converts from Zhongli came here to hang out with us. She rented a bike and has been biking and proselyting with us. It's so fun to hang out with her.

Little boys, missions really are the best. You'll love your missions.

I'm trying to care more about what God thinks about me than anyone else. I loved General Conference. I loved Elaine Dalton. She is such a powerful, empowering, ennobling woman. I love that she said, "I shall ever praise Him for the privilege of being a woman." Jesus Christ was the greatest champion of womanhood. The church and God holds women so high and empowers and ennobles them. I'm so grateful to be a part of this great church and have God as my literal Father in Heaven. Wah. We are so blessed and so lucky. 

I love you all dearly. See you NEXT WEEK. Crazy.

Love, Sister Nad.

April 8, 2013

Editors Note: Sorry for the delay in posting this. I have been in China where I do not have access to Natalie's blog.

Hey, dearest Mom, Faj, Kai, Niels, Finn and Lars.

I can't WAIT to see you guys. You guys all looked so cool in your camping pictures. I want to go camping. What fun stuff are we doing this summer? Lars, you looked so awesome with your pocket square. Seriously, you guys, are the classiest, coolest little brothers. 

Our investigators are doing good. But, our investigators are few, so we are really trying to be good finders and get more investigators. We have two new converts who are like 17 and 15 and we've recently been meeting with their older sister and their mom. Usually separately. The sister came to all of church yesterday and liked it. She's been really influenced by seeing her sisters pray and she wants to try it out. She is curious about whether this is all true. I think it's so cool that peope really do wonder if all of this is true or not, and that they can test it out and try it out and know that it is all true. All of it. It's so cool. We are so blessed and lucky to have the truth and to know the truth. Anyway, we went over to their house the other night and just read the book of mormon together with the two convert daughters and the mom. We would just take turns reading (Faj, I carry around my chinese book of mormon and a little english one in case I have to look stuff up. So when I read outloud, I read from the Chinese one. There are still a bunch of characters I don't know, but sometimes I get through whole verses without needing any help. Yay, becoming a little literate! But, writing, not as good. There's a few I know, but when I write letters, I usually need to look a bunch up.) Anyway, we took turns reading and discussing the things we read. The sister has been stuck on 1 ne chapter 2, so we read that together. It was the first time they had all ever read the scriptures together, and they loved it. They were like, "Whoa! We're already on chapter 3!" And then we all discussed what we learned and we all learned different things; one learned about prayer, one about faith, and one about the importance of keeping the commandments. I feel like the book of mormon and the Spirit totally did all the teaching. It was cool. Also, there really is power in the family. I have definitely taken that for granted - having a strong family that does spiritual activities together. Honestly, what a huge blessing. I testify that the peace and contentment we feel from the gospel is impossible to find in outside sources. 

On Tuesday, we visited the precious Ma's. They're doing so good, but keep them in your prayers, okay? Their parents and grandparents are extremely supportive, but they're still just kids, coming to church on their own and we want them to get really solid testimonies. We taught the ten commandments. When we taught about the sabbath day, we had the littlest one do an activity where we made him run all around. He was so tired and panting afterwards. Oh, I love him so much. On Saturday, we stopped by their house, and the kids and grandparents were there. The grandpa was cute - kept talking a lot and the boys were cracking up a little in the background. But, the grandpa kept thanking us and said he's wanted his grandchildren to become Christians for a long time. I invited him to come to church again, and he was like, "I'll come! To the doorway to drop my kids off." We all started cracking up. Ah, their whole family is so good; I believe in the future, they'll get baptized. 

This week, me and Sister Evans spent a day plus in Yuli on exchanges with the sisters. Me and Sister Wu (I love her! I tried on all her clothes and took a skirt home with me and ate a ton of her chocolate - ha! she's the best!) spent the day in Rui Shui. There is NO ONE there. Haha. Sister Wu and her companion are the first sisters to ever serve there. It's like a little country town with a couple mental hospitals. So everyone either works at the hospitals or are farmers. We rented bikes in Rui Shui (because we took the train there). Mine had tiny tires and hers had no gears, so we just biked really slowly around to visit 2 less-actives and one really stalwart member. It was really fun.  Oh, we did have a sort of lesson with this guy. We contacted this woman outside her house, and she let us in, but she wasn't interested in even talking to us. (I guess everyone there just lets you in their house.) She watched TV and her 30 something year old son was half playing the computer/half talking to us. He had met with missionaries before, but thought not being able to drink tea was too hard. It was awesome, because for some reason I was just really bold with him and told him like it is. I told him he was relying on his own strength and not on God's. And lightly got after him for paying more attention to the computer than to me and he laughed and listened a little better after that. 

This week, I also went on exchanges to hualian with sister parker (we live together, and have practically the same area). It was great fun. As we were headed to do service at a member's house, we ran into this Philippino guy who is a member but hasn't been to church since he's lived here. We detoured to take him to th church house, and when we got there, my companion and Sister Huang were teaching a lesson, but Huang jiemei was basically just taking care of our investigator's daughter who. let's just say, has a TON of energy. 

Our investigator C jiemei passed her baptismal interview, but praaaay for her. Ever since she passed her interview, she's been feeling really sad and dark. I think Satan is hitting her hard, so really remember her in your prayers. She's supposed to get baptized this week. 

Also, this week a child was trying to bite my thigh, and so was biting my skirt and I tried to get my skirt away and it totally ripped. Yeah. Started my mission with a dog biting my cutest skirt, and ending with a child biting a hole in my second cutest skirt.

A bunch of people were at church yesterday -= 5! The people we have are so good. Oh, man, love this mission thing. 

Love you guys dearly, 

Sister Natalie

pictures - exchanges in rui shui