Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Skibby--bless her--decided to write her entire email to us in Spanish this week.  My mom was so kind to translate it for those of us who are not fluent in Spanish.  If you are in that camp, just scroll down to find the English version.

Date:  January 30, 2017 at 9:52 AM
Subject:  La carta que todos han esperado

Hola Familia!!!

Ya que nuestro querido presidente ha parado español en la red, voy a escribir mi carta en español... Podéis ayudarme a entender lo que está pasando en los estados unidos?

Esta semana ha sido bueno, como todos. Los arribos y los bajos. Lo mas importante es que tuvimos una conferencia para todos los misioneros. Basicamente es una resumen de la conferencia que tenía la iglesia el ano pasado. Fue super genial. Sammy debe saber. Estaba pensando en como Elder Bednar y todos pueden hablar con tanto claridad y poder. Siento que siempre alabamos los lideres que tienen discursos super buenos. Elder Bednar, Uchtdorf, Monson. La lista sigue. Pero, me di cuenta de que realmente es el espíritu que Está guiado sus palabras. Sus ideas tienen tanto poder porque vienen del espiritu. 

En la conferencia, anunciaron un cambio en los horarios de los misioneros. Probablamente este no significa mucho para vosotros, pero bastante para Emily y Sammy. Ahora, tenemos planamiento por las mananas. Podemos escoger en cual orden queremos hacer las cosas (planamiento, estudio personal, desayuno, ejercicios), y estudio companerismo puede durar 30-60 minutos. Tenemos un poquito mas tiempo en el dia de preparacion para hacer todo lo que necesitamos hacer. Creo que los lideres quieren que usemos nuestro albedrio. Nate nunca va a saber algo diferente. A lo mejor, tambien, el nunca va a usar una agenda. Los tiempos cambian supongo, pero felizmente, las verdades no cambian. 

Ahora mismo, estamos en bus yendo a Toledo. WOOHOO! (Creo que no puede traducir eso.. wuju!!) Hay muchos nubes. Ha llovido bastante estes ultimos dias. La tierra es bastante verde. Me imagino que todo esta blanco alli en Utah. 

Hablamos con alguien en la calle que se llama Tecla. Ella, como Carmen, es de Guinea equitorial. Ha venido aqui porque esta enferma y necesita una operacion. Pero, no pueden operar hasta el proximo Noviembre, asi que se va a su pais pronto. Empezamos a hablar con ella, y nos dijo "podemos sentarnos en un banco o algo?" Ella tiene mucha fe en Dios y yo queria compartir la escritura sobre fe y milagros en Eter con ella. Entonces, empezamos hablar sobre el Libro de Mormon, y la Gran Apostasia y todo.  Fue una buena conversacion. Ella se sintio muy agradecida hablar con nosotros porque a ella, le gusta hablar sobre Dios y dijo que nadie en estos 3 meses han hablado con ella en cuanto Dios. Esa manana, mi companera y yo oramos para que las personas pudieran reconocernos como representantes de Jesucristo. Sentimos realmente que ella lo hizo, y que fue una respuesta de nuestra oracion. No hemos vuelto tener contacto con Tecla, pero seguimos intentando. Ella tiene un Libro de Mormon y tiene la oportunidad de leerlo. Estoy agradecida de encontrar las personas en la calle que son amables. Creyentes o no creyentes, se que estas personas tienen la Luz de Cristo y estan tratando de hacer lo bueno. 

Esta carta ya esta super largo. Es porque estamos en bus y no he tenido la oportunidad de descargar sus correos, asi que, no puedo leer nada a menos que las escrituras.  

Este sabado tenemos intercambios. 

como dice nuestra amigo, que paseis pipas, y vayais a la calle cuidadito!!
os quiero! buena suerte esta semana!!

Hermana Christensen 

And now the translation.  The words in parentheses are my mom's questions or comments about the translation:

Hi Family!!!

Now that our dear president has stopped (banned?) Spanish in the net (network?), I'm going to write my letter in Spanish…  Can you help me to understand what is happening in the United States??

This week has been good, like all of them.  The ups and the downs.  The most important thing is that we had a Conference for all the missionaries.  Basically this is a summary (review) of the conference that the church had last year. It was super cool. Sammy should know. I was thinking about how Elder Bednar and all of them are able to speak with such clarity and power.  I feel that we always praise the leaders that have super good talks.  Elder Bednar, Uchtdorf, Monson.  The list goes on.  But, I realized that really it is the spirit that is guiding their words.  Their ideas have such power because they come from the spirit.

In the conference they announced a change in the schedules of the missionaries.  Probably this doesn't mean much to all of you, but a lot to Emily and Sammy.  Now, we have planning time (I think) in the mornings.  We can choose in what order we want to do things (planning, personal study, breakfast, exercise), and companionship study should last 30-60 minutes.  We have a little more time on preparation day to do what we need to do.  I believe that the leaders want us to use our agency.  Nate will never know anything different.  And better, also, he is never going to use an agenda.  Times change, I suppose, but happily, the truths don't change.

Right now we are on a bus going to Toledo. WOOHOO! (I believe you can't translate that..wuju!!)  There are lots of clouds.  It has rained quite a bit these last days.  The ground is quite green.  I imagine that everything is white there in Utah.

We talked with someone in the street whose name is Tecla.  She, like Carmen, is from equatorial Guinea.  She has come here because she is sick and needs an operation.  But, they can't operate until next November, so she is going to her country soon.  We began to talk with her and she said to us "can we sit on a bench or something?"  (I'm guessing a bit here)  She has so much faith in God and I wanted to share the scripture about faith and miracles in Ether with her.  Then we began to talk about the Book of Mormon, and the great apostasy and all.  It was a good conversation.  She felt very grateful to talk with us because for her, she likes to talk about God and she said that nobody in these 3 months have talked with her about God. That morning, my companion and I prayed that people might be able to recognize us as representatives of Jesus Christ.  We really feel that she did that, and that it was an answer to our prayer.  We haven't returned to have a contact with Tecla, but we're going to.  She has a Book of Mormon and has the opportunity to read it.  I am grateful to find people in the street who are friendly. Believers or not believers, I know that these people have the Light of Christ and are trying to do right.

This letter now is super long.  That's because we're on the bus and I haven't had a chance to download your letters, so I can't read anything except the scriptures.

This Saturday we have transfers.
As our friend says,  
como dice nuestra amigo, que paseis pipas, y vayais a la calle cuidadito!! (can’t figure out a translation for this phrase that makes any sense to me)

I love you!  Good luck this week!!
Hermana Christensen 

Monday, January 23, 2017

Skibby sent the following email and photo on Monday, January 23, 2017:

Date:  January 23, 2017 at 6:39 AM
Subject:  The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

The Good:
We had interviews with Presidente Pack this week. They are good people. Very normal and down to earth. They have to interview all the missionaries every 6 weeks now, so it is a little bit crazy for them. Also while we were talking to Hna Pack, we told her how we'd been practicing to teach Mary about the BOM in English, and Hna Pack pretended to be Mary while Hna Quispe explained the BOM in English. She is improving. Hna Pack's imitation of Mary was unforgettable. 

Lots of people at English Classes -- we split up into 3 groups: basics, intermediate, and conversations. Lucky me I got basics, and am doing my best to explain how our language works. I have never taught basic English before, but I'm using Hna Quispe's book to help know how to explain things. I try to make it enjoyable.

Luz made us cheese bunuelos [fried dough balls—a popular snack] on Tuesday with a masa to eat it with. They taste really good. We visited la Hermana Maria Makaya on Thursday who gave us coconut bunuelos that also taste very good. Carmen gives us banana bunuelos all the time. You can never go wrong with bunuelos.

We met a sweet 90 year old man at the bus stop named Vicente. He had thick glasses that magnified his eyes bastante [a lot]. I thought about Bompa Lloyd. How is he doing?

Saturday we taught Mary. We were expecting to do a lot of explaining about the Book of Mormon. When we arrived, we found that she was in 1 Nefi 21. And she had underlined the restoration pamphlet and filled out all of the questions in the back. She wanted me to correct it. Luckily she passed. We basically shared our testimonies about the Book of Mormon and the importance it has. We invited her to be baptized. She said, "Now I have a question about this. I was first baptized when they sprinkled a whole bunch of water over my head. And then the evangelicals told me I needed to be baptized again going all the way down in the water. So how many times do I need to be baptized before it's good?" We explained about the priesthood authority. Mary has a lot of potential. She also told us that she was very grateful for us. We met her December 31. She told us this day was very special to her because we were about to start a new year and she found us. Usually she doesn't talk to people on the street, but she talked to us. She said it brought back Jesus Christ in her life.

We saw Carnita again in the street.

The Bad:
All bunuelos are fried. They have a lot of oil.

Friday night we came home at 9:30 and the lock of the door was a little bit strange. They key didn't fit all the way in, and we had to jiggle the door and key to open the door. Everything seemed to be just fine. There were a few drawers that we didn't remember opening that were left open. We thought maybe we had just forgotten. A little while later I remembered that I hadn't taken my bag with me that day. I always have my bag with me, but I had been carrying around the bible (because if I know we will be using the bible in a lesson I like to have it in paper) and decided to just take a few things in my hands that day. I thought about moving my wallet, but knew I wouldn't need it, so I left it there. That's the only thing we could find that was missing. That and Hna Quispe's hat. The next day we went to the police station and someone came to take fingerprints. There weren't any distinct fingerprints, but there were glove prints (of cloth). A member came that night and replaced our lock with a high quality lock. At least they didn't take my scriptures or anything. That's what would have had the most value. There have been a lot of missionaries robbed lately. Someone was robbed in Chamartin. His whole backpack with all of his personal scriptures and things were taken.

The Ugly:
We've always felt good when people tell us, "sois muy guapas las dos" [you are both very handsome] until we realized only the elderly people walking in the street who should be using glasses tell us that.

Que tenga una buena semana!! Espero que todos esten bien y feliz. les quiero!  [Have a good week!!  I hope you all are well and happy.  I love you all!]

Hna Christensen
Luz (on the left) made the empanadas Skibby & Hermana Quispe are holding

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Skibby sent us the following email on Monday, January 16, 2017:

Date:  January 16, 2017 at 10:27 AM
Subject:  mis pensamientos en quanto el mundo [I think this translates to something like, “my thoughts on the world”... maybe…]

Hello Familia!
Bueno, Esta semana ha sido muy bien. las experiencias que queria compartir Miercoles..  
[translation:  Well, this week has been great. The experiences I wanted to share Wednesday ..]

About 2 weeks ago we had a lesson with Juan Carlos(ma) and we were sitting on a bench, all of us with our libros de mormon out and open. There were people walking past every now and then, and I thought about their perspective and I thought -- "They probably think we're some weird kind of book club or something." It's true. We kind of are like a giant book club that talks about and rereads and has conferences and everything you can think of on the best book in the world/heavens. The Book of Mormon is the best. And now I feel like the church is a giant book club. --You don't have to put any of this in the email if it sounds too weird.

There are lots of people we talk to on the street that say they believe in themselves only. They say they don't believe there are any good people in the world. None. About 2 weeks ago we were boarding the bus to head to a pueblo. There was someone waiting in a wheelchair. All of the buses have 2 doors: one to enter and one to leave. The exit door is in the middle of the bus. So the lady in the wheelchair was waiting at the exit doors to enter there (because there is a place to seat belt wheelchairs there), and we had all been waiting there for a while. It takes a little bit of time to load everybody because you have to pay or swipe your abono [Google translates this word as “fertilizer,” so I’m thinking something’s lost in the translation…], but finally we were all loaded except the lady in the wheelchair. Either the conductor didn't see her, or he forgot she was there, but he started pulling away. Immediately there was an uproar from the entire bus to stop. They got her on, and while the person who was with her was paying, a lady, already sitting down, got up and buckled her wheelchair in. This is a really small example, but I feel like it shows that all people are generally good. That lady was none of anybody's business, and we would have left a little bit faster had they not said anything. But instead of just zoning into their phones or starting to take a nap, they worried about her and were ready to cry out when the driver forgot her. I firmly believe it is the Light of Christ that helps people be good. It's sad to see people who are rude or mean because I think they've had enough trials in their life that have hardened their hearts enough to push aside their Light of Christ. They become so hardened that they can't see the good in other people or any good in the world. I believe in people. And I believe in God. The more we believe in God, the more we are able to see our potential as people, and the more we are able to spread good (which is the Light of Christ) and help others. The hard part is making sure our selfishness, struggles, or fear doesn't hinder our Light of Christ (ability to do good). Anyway, it's an experience that really proved to me that people are good. We live in a fallen world, and there are lots of bad things, but most people are good and strive to do the right thing.

This week we had intercambios [exchanges]. We went to Barrio 3. I was with Hna. Schriever. She dies this transfer.  I know this part of my life is really important and that it will go by fast. It is going by fast. I'm trying my best to do everything that God wants me to do. But there are so many things I need to do better.

Diana and Family
Diana is an old investigator who we dropped because she said she was always working and hung up on us when we would call. Luckily Hna Quispe is from Peru. Diana is also from Peru. We meet so many people from Peru it is ridiculous. I think I have only met one person here who is from the United States who is not an Elder/Hna. Anyway, we ran into her and her husband a few months ago and started teaching her/them again (and I think it has a lot to do with the fact that they are Paisanos [a peasant of Spanish or Italian ethnic origin].). I feel a little left out sometimes, but it's ok. Anyway! This week we shared the plan of salvation with all of them. It was awesome because they have 2 kids and their kids were really interested and asking lots of questions, Tatiana: "Yeah, this is something I've always questioned.. Why are we here, and where are we going after this life??" -- well, that is why we are here.. (sometimes I feel a little like Inigo Montoya with these questions -- lemme explain.. no no, there is too much, lemme sumup). It was the first time I shared the plan of salvation with an entire family. We gave them the Proclamation on the Family and asked them to pray as a family. I really hope they can progress as a family because they would love the Celestial Kingdom.

Friday: we visited Carmen. She sometimes feels really sad because she has a lot of hard things in her life. This was one of those days. Her faith in God is huge, but so are her pains. We shared Alma 28:4-6 (I love this scripture), and we decided to fast all together Saturday and Sunday.

Saturday: We start our fast. I fasted especially for Aurelio (Carmen's son) to see the example of his mom. I called Mary to see if she could come to church, but her friend was still with her. She was going to leave in the morning, so we said we would get in contact with Mary later.

Sunday: Diana was going to come to church, and we went to pick her up, but she called us when we rang her bell and failed us. Luz, her son Gustavo, and her cousin Wilmer came to Sacrament Meeting. But they always leave right afterwards. So in Gospel Principles, Hna Quispe and I were sitting alone. About 10 minutes in, the door opens and who walks in? Aurelio. We didn't even officially invite him. About 20 seconds later the door opens again. Would you believe Mary came? That was amazing for me because I really saw the importance and the power of fasting. It showed me that God loves his kids a lot. I don't know what motivated them to come because Hna Quispe and I were not pushing them, but I know I was so grateful I had fasted that day for Carmen. It's the best place they could have been spending their time, and if they can stick with it, it will change their lives.

Sorry if this email was really long and boring and missionary-ish. I hope all you people are well and happy. I miss you, but I'm glad I'm here. Have a great week, y no hagan ninguna cosa peligrosa [and do nothing dangerous].
con carino [fondly]

Hna Skibby Christensen