Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Skibby sent the following email on Monday, August 28, 2017.  At the beginning of her email, when she mentions our family's "crazy and really busy week," she is referring primarily to our exciting news that Emily got engaged last Saturday night to a wonderful guy named Michael Stirling, and Nate had his missionary farewell last Sunday!

Date:  August 28, 2017 at 9:17 AM
Subject:  not that busy of a week

Well. I've heard that all of your weeks have been crazy and really busy. That's great!

I feel like this week was a little bit slow, and I'm not sure why. We visited with a recent convert and talked about how she could share the Gospel with people. All of her family members kind of judge her for her decision and she feels like they make fun of her, or complain that she is different. But the Gospel makes her feel good, and she has a really strong testimony.

We met with Adrian on Tuesday. We were all sooo excited, because we were finally going to teach him the plan of salvation. Long story short, his friend came and started asking questions about religion and Adrian answered a few of them. He is just genuinely so cool. So then, we were going to meet him Saturday, but surprise! I had to play for the baptism of b8 elders, and they were like, “Hey! Do you know the Savior Redeemer of My Soul song?” We'll, I didn't, but we went over and plunked it out and it turned out well. So we didn't see Adrian. But we are going right now to see him.

We met la pareja de Maria. His name is Angel and he is a stud. He had a lot of questions and, even though they came to church 2 hours late, really enjoyed the elders Quorum lesson. We'll meet with them Tuesday. He said he would figure out if our message was true, when we asked if he would ask.

That's about it.

Love you all!! Have a great week!

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Skibby sent the following email and photos last Monday, August 21, 2017.  I'm sorry to be so late getting this posted!

Date:  August 21, 2017 at 10:36 AM
Subject:  It’s a jungle out there

Hello family!
Last week, all of a sudden, I got the Monk theme song stuck in my head. And I realized it's true. It's a jungle out there. A concrete jungle where dreams are made of. Disorder and confusion everywhere. No one seems to care-- well I do!  

Well, since I hardly wrote what happened last week, I'll try to fill you in.

Moratalaz-- aka Lima Peru:
Last Monday on our way to the castle, we got a call from Maria. We didn't remember who she was, but she said she was coming to the church. We asked if she could come on Tuesday. No problem. So we met with them on Tuesday: Maria and Vicky. We found them in the retiro park a few days before that and had left them with our card. They came from Peru and have been here a month. They are looking for work and a different piso. Well we shared with them about how God is our Heavenly Father. We gave them both a BOM and they said they would read it. We introduced them to Raul (our mission leader--Peru). We set up another appointment to see them on Friday. Which they came to. Just 2 hours late! So we explained a little bit about the BOM and then they stayed for the baptism the Elders of a different barrio had. I was asked right before if I would do a musical number. So I just played the John the Baptist song. Props of playing the piano. We invited them to an appointment. We told them to meet us at 5:30 so we could get there by 6:30 because they always came late. We only got there 10 minutes late. We shared the restauracion, and they came to church yesterday. We also helped them move from their piso to a hotel on Friday. (The matrimony couple helped us with their car.) At the same baptism we invited a girl named Jeisel (Peru) and her friend Pierro (Peru) to come. They got there late, but we planned to eat with them on Monday. Well we did, and it was delicious, but we didn't have time to share anything. We lost Lourdes for about a week and a half. On Friday, I asked Heavenly Father to help us have some kind of contact with her that day. It didn't happen. But the next day, we saw her in the metro, and we went quickly to get on the same train. She came to church yesterday and then came to eat with us at Raul and Lily' s house (Peru). Bishop (Peru), 1st counselor (Peru), we visited a member, Gloria (Peru), and shared the restauracion. At Zone conference the hermanas told us that they were visiting Cynthia and her Family (Peru) (do you remember them?) And Andrés (11) said he wanted to be baptized!! I don't think he told his dad yet. Then on Saturday, they came to Pavones to play basketball and I got to see him. He ran over to me with the biggest grin on his face. Man was I happy to see him. Saturday, Diego (Peru) was baptized, and we did a little musical number. Cuando me bautice con mas cerca Dios de ti. La mayoria de Las cantantes siendo... peruanos.  Yo esperaba servir en Perú, pero no sabía que mi Perú sería Pavones. [… musical number.  “When I Am Baptized” along with “Nearer, My God, to Thee.”  Most of the singers were Peruvian.  I hoped to serve in Peru, but I did not know that my Peru would be Pavones.]

Tuesday we had zone conference and that was a lifesaver. President talked about the restoration. We are supposed to be teaching it to all members in 4 minutes. It's what President calls a message with a lot of meat. He's not joking. Anyway, so we went out with renewed energy and on Wednesday, we shared the restoration with a family. They said they really liked the message because God has 2 attributes: amor y alegria [love and joy]. They said Hna Eckel was amor and I was alegria. Go figure. Then we started walking around and talking to people and we stopped a guy walking his dog. Turns out his name is Toby (the dog), but I thought he said Dobby. He has the coloring of Cubby, but he's just not as cute, darnit. The guy's name is Adrian. I said, "You live around here don't you? Haven’t you ever had any curiosity about this giant white building over there?" Adrian: Si, what is your religion about? Yo: well to be able to understand what we believe, first you need to understand who God is for us ... and we did the restoration in 4 minutes. It was nice to have just practiced it. He had some really good questions about knowing if the Bible was true, or how can you know if you've chosen the right path. I feel like we just had a really good heart to heart chat. And then he asked, "Ok, so why are we here?" we said: “Ahh! We would love to explain this, but maybe tomorrow. So we met with him the next day with some rm members and we talked some more about the restoration, then met with him yesterday. On Wednesday, we’ll talk about the plan of salvation. He is so cool. I really think God made our paths cross, and at a time when we were ready to share.

Yesterday we also met with a girl named Jesse. She has a friend in the US that told her how happy she is, and told her it was because of the church. 
I think that's about it. We are sad about Barcelona. Maybe this will make Spain a little more united.

If you paid attention you'd be worried too. You better pay attention all this work we love so much, might just kill you...
Some days are hard, and some days I don't know how we'll make it. But it is all worth it.

love you all!!

Hna Christensen

Friday, August 18, 2017

Skibby sent the following email & photos on Wednesday, August 16, 2017:

Date:  August 16, 2017 at 11:00 AM

Hi Family,

It's been a hard week. We met a lot of people. We met someone made Ignacio who was atheist and so happy. He was so fun to talk to. I couldn't figure out why he could be so happy.

We had zone conference and it lifted my spirits so, so much. I think things are looking up.

This is all for this week. Sorry! I wanted to write more, but we were playing frisbee and an Elder fell and ran into the wall and had to go get stitches and so we made him yogurt fruit pie, but the time flew. Hna Eckel is awesome.  We will talk on Monday. Love you!   

Photo:  first procession..... Virgin Maria

Madrid Temple--Elders with Hna. Eckel & Skibby

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Skibby sent the following email & photos on Monday, August 7, 2017.  My translation attempts are italicized and in brackets:

Date:  August 7, 2017 at 9:46 AM
Subject:  Dios se quiso comer una pizza, por el calor que hay, parece que se le olvidó apagar el horno  [Translation:  God wanted to eat a pizza, because of the heat there is, it seems that he forgot to turn off the oven]

Hola! Esta semana hacía mucho calor. Pero bueno.  [Hello!  This week was very hot.  But good.]

We just finished week 2 as a companionship! 

Here is the story of Yvonne:
She is a Peruvian that came here with 2 of her 3 kids last October. She came to live with her oldest sister who has been a member of the church for about 13 years now. Her sister's name is Elizabeth. Anyway, the hermanas taught Yvonne a little bit in December, but her kids were so unreceptive and she was working interna (which means you live with an old lady and take care of her about 24/7. Working interna is brutal on missionary work because you can never meet). And all of a sudden, she would never pick up her phone. So when I arrived in B6, my companion pointed out Yvonne, who always came to church, but apparently didn't want to have contact with us. I asked when we could come and visit, and she said in about 3 weeks on Monday we could come by. 3 weeks is a long time to wait, so we were a little bummed. Well, as we were trying to help her kids get a little more integrated into the ward, we found out that we didn't have her right phone number. So now we could communicate with her through telefono. Then! The next Sunday she and her sister told us she wanted to get baptized as soon as possible. I was so stunned. Well, we agreed we should start teaching her from the beginning. So that's what we did. Every Sunday and Monday we taught her. And we put the date for August 5 a little less than one month before, so we felt like we didn't have very much time. But every time we went, it was awesome. I love her sister because she is this cute little Peruvian full of spiritual experiences. I love it because she tells her stories like she's just going along, minding her own business, trying to figure out what to do and then ploomf! All these cool miracles always happen to her. I don't know what goes on in that house, but it is one of the places that I have felt the spirit the strongest. I think it's a combination of Yvonne being so pure at heart, and Elizabeth having such a strong testimony. We always leave very well fed spiritually and physically... Los peruanos aprovechan de su derecho de comer rico... [Peruvians take advantage of their right to eat rich…]

Also, the picture of morir soñando [the literal translation is “die dreaming,” but it is a popular beverage of the Dominican Republic made of orange juice, milk, sugar, and chopped ice] I sent a few weeks ago is from Yvonne's house. Their friend Hna Digna was there for a lot of our lessons. She is Dominicana.

One day we sent Yvonne Alma 5:62 to read, and the next time we talked to her, she said she had read the whole chapter but had lost where it was. She said it talked about how to make a happy family and how she needed to be baptized to help her kids. We have looked all over for this chapter, but I have yet to find it. I don't know what she read that day, but I really think she received straight revelation.

Anyway, we found out that Yvonne has had a past bastante duro [pretty tough]. She is very quiet and sweet, and lived for a long time with everything that happened alone. She carried around a big burden. She was really nervous right before we started the baptismal program. She said she was feeling better, but still felt this burden. We promised her that when she was baptized, she would be able to leave all of those things behind and that she could leave freed. Well, we were a little stressed and rushed for the baptism, and we forgot to plug the drain before we filled up the font. The water was really hot at the beginning, so we put it on cold, thinking it would even out. But all the hot water drained and when we plugged it, it was all cold. So her baptism was a little more authentic to Jesus Christ's than the rest of ours. Afterwards we asked her how she felt, and she said, "pues, ustedes tenían razón, los dos tenían toda la razón." [“Well, you were right, the two of you were absolutely right.”]  I know that it is thanks to Jesus Christ that we can discard the things of the past and rejoice in the future. I know that what the scriptures teach are true. I know that Yvonne has felt even more the love that God has for her.

So the water was a little cold, but we ate aji de gallina [a Peruvian dish of spicy, creamed chicken] afterwards, Yvonne was happy, and I think everything turned out well.

Here is a tender mercy I got today: we went with the b1 hermanas (hnas Sam y Quispe) to a castle in their area today. Well, the bad news is that all castles in Madrid are closed every Monday. BUT, we went anyway. It was fun, and as we were talking they mentioned something about their recent convert Victor. I was like, wait a minute..... where is Victor from?? Nigeria, they told me. Do you remember about 6 months ago how I told about a guy I contacted on the bus even though I was scared? That was Victor. He got baptized 2 weeks ago. He wants to serve a mission. I'm really grateful I was able to play a small part in his process of coming to find the gospel. I know that God rejoices in the joy of just one saved soul, and even though we look for millions, and find few, I also rejoice that they have found the gospel.

Sorry this email is so long, but I wanted to let you know a little bit more about Yvonne. The rest of the week was doing little bits of service with English, and piano. And trying to find more people. We really need to find more people. 

Thanks for all the support you give me back at home. I love you and miss you all, and hope you have a great week, y que no pase frío [and do not get cold] !

Hna Christensen 
Yvonne (center) at her baptism

Above & below:  Visiting a castle in Spain
Skibby and her new companion, Hermana Eckel.
Skibby has been her trainer for the past two weeks, and she loves her!

Victor (second from the left) at his baptism 2 weeks ago

Skibby first met him on a bus last March.  She told us she had been trying to muster up the courage to talk to him.  Here's what she wrote in her March 13, 2017 letter: 
"So, I thought about it for a while. I decided that I was going to have to do it. There's a whole bunch of scriptures in DyC [D&C] that say if you open your mouth, the words will just flow out. So, I sat there with my mouth open for about 2 minutes, and then finally got up the nerve to say something. I talked to Victor from Nigeria who is learning Spanish. Just when we had to leave I was explaining about who we were and why we're here. Then the bus doors were opening and I threw him a card and said, "Call us, and we'll give you a Book of Mormon in English!!" and went out. Well, that night or the next night, guess who called? Victor. He was a little distraught that we didn't remember him at first. We set up an appointment, and he called the next day to confirm with us. I don't know what it is about Nigeria, but everyone there loves God. If everybody in Utah loved God as much as everyone in Nigeria, there would be no less actives. So, we met with him and he said he loves to talk about God. He has a whole bunch of friends who like talking about futbol and sports and he says he gets tired of that, but he never gets tired of God. Unfortunately he doesn't live in our area, so we passed him along to the missionaries in Alcobendas. It's amazing to me that he used his agency to call us. It could make the biggest change in his life."