Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Skibby sent us the following email on Tuesday, August 30, 2016.  I have added a couple of notes and italicized them.

Date:  August 30, 2016 at 4:59 AM
Subject:  they say the best way to learn how to swim is simply to throw you in the water

Hola from afar!!

First off, I want to know who "they" are, and what gives them the authority to make such outrageous statements?

But here I am. President Pack said there would be a lot of ojt (on the job training).  So far this statement has held true....

Sorry if this long winded, but so goes the week.

A year ago Saturday (I think Skibby's phrase "a year ago" is meant to be tongue in cheek; it probably just feels that long ago to her!), I went to the park for the last time. Nothing super spectacular happened. But my companion and I decided to wait for the next metro stop because there were a lot of missionaries boarding. After the doors shut, the metro rushed past. Every car was like a window passing by. The metro is really fast so when it left, I only got a glimpse into each car, but in each car I saw young men and women in white shirts, suits and ties/ skirts trying to spread the gospel. And for a moment, I felt a little like Alma or Isaiah, or some other prophet who prophesied of missionary work. How cool that they really could have seen me, or what I saw at the metro. It’s crazy that we’re really fulfilling the words of the prophets of old.

All right. Monday, my companion and I said goodbye to all the other elders and hermanas early in the morning to catch a train to malaga/barcelona. At 9:00, our Madrid group met President and Hermana Pack at a view point of Madrid. We had a little devotional, and later in the mission home, we had "orientation" mas o menos. Pres told us that the church has been in Spain for about 40 years, so in reality, it’s pretty much 1870 here. Talk about a time change.

Then we headed back to the stake center to meet our companions. Naturally I was placed in the best area with the mejor companion. Her name is Hermana Mendoza, she’s originally from Bolivia, and she’s been out for 6 months. We are serving in Barrio Mostoles! It’s about an hour south of Madrid. I love it here. It’s beautiful, and the streets are full of people.

Right away we started contacting and trying to have lessons with people I don’t know, in a language I can’t speak. I feel right at home. So far we’ve had some great lessons. Hma Mendoza says it’s the time of the Nigerians because pretty much all our investigators are from Africa. True. Our best investigators are Kingsley and Carmen- from Nigeria and Guinea.  I saw a miracle on Sunday. Carmen came to church. She has a lot of pain in her knees and walks with a cane. After church was over she had a huge amount of pain in her leg and could hardly walk. The Elders gave her a blessing. Her faith is grand. After the blessing she stood up and shook her leg and laughed at how good it felt!! Basically the lesson of the week is that your faith determines your miracles.

Our district is amazing!! There are six of us serving in Mostoles, my companion and me, and 4 elders. Our leader’s name is Elder Smurthwaite, but the members call him "Elder Es muy guay" translation: “is really cool.” Your challenge for the week: substitute “guay” for the word “cool”....... because it’s way more guay. We eat at members’ houses for mediodia every day. The members are great!!! There are about 150 members in our barrio. Anyway, there is always a lot of really good food and lots of laughter. You remember that joke about the penguins?  I feel about like that 90% of the time. (This joke Skibby is referring to is kind of a reverse joke.  A group of insiders who already know the joke tell it to an outsider to watch his/her reaction.  The joke really isn't funny it all.  It is a stupid little story about a penguin, and it has a totally meaningless "punchline" about a radio.  But right after telling the "punchline," the insiders all laugh hysterically as if it was the funniest joke ever, and they watch the outsider's reaction to see if he or she will try to laugh along with the group pretending to "get" the joke, or say honestly, "I don't get it."  So, I think what Skibby means is that, because of her language barrier, she is really not understanding much of what people are saying, but when they say something and then laugh, 90% of the time, she just joins in laughing too, in an attempt to appear to be understanding.  That's my take on it anyway.  And just for the record: I hate the penguin joke.)

Here is what you need to try to make this week:
-your pie crust, but instead of sprinkling cinnamon sugar on it, put nutella on it and wrap it up. You won’t be disappointed!
- make squash soup with french fries. --- I know it sounds terrible, but I promise it’s not
-can you freeze whip cream and then eat it later with fruit? Will the whip cream be more solidish?

We taught a lesson to a woman named Josepha Smith. Just kidding!! Her name is Angela, but as we were talking about the first lesson she said, "I don’t understand why there are so many different churches, and how you’re supposed to know which one is true." I pretty much said, "Yes. You are right. That is the question. You are Joseph Smith." Except I didn’t say the last sentence out loud.

Well, I feel like I had so much more to say, but I can’t think of anything else right now, so it will have to wait!! I’m loving it here and hoping all is going well at home.

Love you all, and have an amazing week!!
Hermana skibby christensen

Sunday, August 28, 2016

We received the following email and photos from Skibby's mission president and his wife last Wednesday, August 24, 2016:

Subject:  Hermana Christensen has arrived!

Dear Family of Hermana Christensen,

We had the great pleasure today of welcoming your daughter to the Spain Madrid Mission. We spent the day together at the mission home where she received training and orientation on her missionary assignment.  We thoroughly enjoyed our time together and felt a wonderful spirit present.  We appreciate all that you have done to prepare your daughter to serve the Lord and for the sacrifice you are making in giving her to the Lord for a time. 

Hermana Christensen has been assigned to labor in Móstoles with Hermana Mendoza. 

We thought you might enjoy these pictures that we took in the backyard during our lunch break.

May the Lord bless you and your family in all of your endeavors.


President and Hermana Pack

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Skibby sent us the following email and photo on Thursday, August 18, 2016:

Date:  August 18, 2016 at 5:00 AM
Subject:  my days here are numbered!

Well, it’s a good thing I don’t have much longer here in the ccm, because I don’t have much to report.

We have been teaching fake investigators, and tomorrow is our last day.

On Saturday I went to the park with a Russian sister named Sister Parkhomenko. She’s great. We brought an Italian bom with us just in case. It was the first bom we gave out. Luckily this lady spoke Italian. I’m not sure she was completely with it, but we gave her the book and took her number. What are the chances we bring a bom on the only day we met someone who spoke Italian?? Obviously none.

Also at the park, we met this incredibly nice lady named Maria. I was trying to be smart and tell her it was funny that we were all talking together because she spoke Spanish. I spoke English, and my companion spoke Russian, and we communicated using the little bit of other languages we knew (me knowing a little Spanish and my companion knowing a lot of English) when we found out she could speak almost perfect English. Yep. But then she told us she was going to speak Spanish. We talked for a solid 40 minutes. Her speaking Spanish, me trying to translate back and forth to English for my Russian companion back to Spanish, and her knowing English the whole time. You’d think there would be an easier way. She’s been here for 43 years all alone. I hope she accepts the gospel. Ugh. She is a great lady.

Besides companionship study, language study, and scripture study, physical activity is one of my favorite things to do here. There are 2 places to play. We call them the pit, and the cage. They are both very rundown and great. We usually play futbol or soccer. Yeah. It’s pretty much just futbol. But it’s always really fun and I’ll miss playing with everyone when I leave. I’ll really miss all the other sisters and the dynamic we have here. I feel a bit like Moses when God called him to go get the Jews. We’ve been speaking only Spanish this week, and I’ve realized that I don’t know the language.  Good thing I already know God’s answer. I’m just going to keep working hard and trust in him. And I know I’ll get there eventually, and I’m excited for the change the field will bring with everything!!

Love and miss you all,
hma Christensen (skibby)

Bring on the field!!

My district in front of the Prado museum.  
Good thing we’re all looking at the same camera.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Skibby sent the following email and pictures on Thursday, August 11, 2016.  My notes are in italics.

Date:  August 11, 2016 at 7:03 AM

Hola familia!!

Well this week was another good one. The park was amazing. I was with hma Cummings.  We were walking on a path and I looked behind me to a different path and saw a lady walking away. I said, "I kind of feel like we should talk to her," and the next thing I know, hma Cummings has whipped around and is running after the lady. So we went. She had a dog and we tried to make small talk but she gave us the famous Spanish finger wave which means go away, and we left. Walking back, we saw a guy with a restoration pamphlet. We tried to talk to him about it, but couldn't really understand what he said. We left, but then decided to go back and understand what he was saying. He was with a girl and was borrowing her phone.  So we talked to her. Maria, age 15. She came to the park that day looking for guidance or direction or answers or something. I don't know what because I can't speak or understand Spanish.  But she was so receptive and so ready. We gave her a bom, and shared the first vision and Moroni 10:4-5 with her. That's my first time for a real person. It was awesome. There's no way God didn't make that happen because there were so many variables that would have changed that outcome way too easily. God answers prayers. Also we got a referral here. Our whole ccm got 32 referrals that day. I hope it makes a difference in their lives.

Every day we go to the park or anywhere for p-day, we ride the metro. We pass a sign that says it takes one to change the world, or something like that. It's a good reminder. I love the metro. Today we went to the palace real which was incredible. Incredible. We saw 24 of the 2800 rooms there. Paintings, tapestries, chandeliers, silk walls, thrones, ancient paintings on every ceiling. You name it, they've got it. Unless it's ac.  Then they don't.

But even more amazing was the metro ride there. I met a lady from Brazil working as a cleaning lady. Her name was Vanusa. I gave her a bom and got a referral from her. God must have prepared her, because she was so nice to me. Most of the people on the metro laugh when we talk to people because no one talks to each other. I love it though.  What's the point of being there if we're not going to talk?

So we missed our metro stop talking to Vanusa, but it was good because my companion and I got to ride the metro without a flock of white shirted boys with ties following us everywhere. It was refreshing.

People play instruments everywhere on the streets. How about that?

How are Cubby and Bernard ["Bernard" is the bonsai tree Nate gave Skibby last Christmas.]?

OK, time’s up for this week. Talk to you next week!! The church must be true because miracles happen every day!!

Much amor,

Last week we went to the Prada. The Prada. The famous museum. It was cool. Goya is a famous artist. We saw some of his paintings in the Prada, and some today in the Palacios Real!!!  A real palace. The picture of the trees and buildings (below) is taken from a lookout point at the palace.
Que guay!!

(Uno.  Number of people necessary for changing the world)