This Is Peru!

This Is Peru!

August 3, 2012

The Torch is Raised

Hey team! Its Monday morning and I'm writing you for the last time as a missionary. It seems more real to me now. It kinda hit me today when I said, "this week I'll be home." Wow... I cannot believe that my time as a missionary is coming to an end. This last week or so has been... well... interesting, painful (in many different ways, will explain at home), sad, and nostalgic. I have had some time this week to think about my mission and each sector and all that I've learned. Two years have really passed by! I look around me and try to take in all the sights, sounds, and smells that in a few short days I wont be around anymore. I wont be able to do the same things I have done during these two years. I have thoroughly enjoyed my mission experience and I'm sad its coming to an end. My time as a representative and missionary of our Lord Jesus Christ is ending... But at the same time I'm beyond stoked to see my family and friends after so long.
It has truly been an honor in serving my Heavenly Father and my Savior in their work, this glorious work. I have carried Christs name on my chest proudly for two years, and I will miss that. I love this work with all my heart, and I have been so very blessed to be here. I have a genuine love for the Peruvian people, this land, and the food! (Even though some of it is horrible). But honestly, I know that my call has been inspired of a prophet of God, and I know that I was meant to be here.
I will be forever grateful for the testimony that has been burned into my heart or the truthfulness of the Gospel here on my mission. Deep inside me, etched upon my soul, I know that Christ is the Son of God, the Savior and Redeemer of the world. He sent me to Peru, He guided me through thick and thin, He knows that I could take what he put me through and the purpose for which He did it. I have seen the growth that has come through putting my trust in the Lord and letting Him steer. My eyes have been opened very widely these last two years, and I have gained a grand appreciation for the United States of America. I love this country, but I am so proud to be an American now more than ever. How blessed are we to live where we do, and to be free.
 I didn't see him work miracles on the roads of Jerusalem, but I know he lives, I have felt his love. And that is what its all about, he did it all because of Love.....I know that Joseph Smith was his chosen prophet, I know without a doubt in my heart, that the book of Mormon is the word of God, and anyone who reads it WILL come closer to Jesus Christ than any other book on this earth.
I remember saying goodbye at the MTC two years ago, not really knowing what I was about to get myself into. I was a rather young, scared boy. But with the help of the Lord, He has turned me into the man that I am now. I feel like the same person I was when I left, but at the same time, not at all. I have seen with my spiritual eyes, and I know what matters most! I am not perfect, nor even close to it, so don't be expecting a perfect son when I'm home! But I am much better than I was when I left. That much is true. How grateful I am for my Heavenly Father and His perfect Plan in my life.  I know that He lives and loves every one of us.
I love you all, more than you know. I'll see you in a few days! Get ready for the biggest hug of your life mom!!!
This is Elder Christensen, a proud (in a good way) missionary in the foreign land of Peru, signing off for the last time.....
The torch has been raised.

2 Timothy 4:7

July 26, 2012

No sleep, "goodbyes", Machu Picchu, and the Last Supper.

July 24, 2012

Well team, this is almost it! My second to last email in the mission. I'm running on about 10 hours of sleep for the past 3 days..... here goes...

So, last week was an interesting week. Lets see if I can explain why. So, Roberto and Francisca aren't married yet. Its a long story, but to make it really short, we just need to have a meeting at the RENIEC (the department in charge of issuing ID's) to find out something that will let us know if they can get married right away, or later. So, his problem is basically solved, but all they need to do is have that meeting and according to what they tell him, he can either get married on THIS Saturday (28th), or might have to wait longer. There is a small possibility that they can be baptized on Saturday, so we'll see... But Its just a matter of time before they are baptized. I feel content because I have done all that I possibly could do to help them get to where they are today. If they aren't baptized right away, so be it. They are already converted to the gospel, its just (unfortunately) a small inconvenience that they are facing that is keeping them from already being baptized. I am so happy I was able to have met them here on the mission and to have taught them the true Evangelio de Jesucristo. 

My last Sunday in Sicuani was pretty rushed. I got a call on Saturday night from the office saying that I had to be in Cusco on Sunday at 5pm for my last interview with President. Crap, I thought to myself, I had already made plans to leave Sunday night... but oh well. I finished packing my bags that night to be ready to leave at 1. So, at the end of church the second counselor of our ward (Alberto) stood up and publically thanked me for all I have done for the ward and said some other things that almost brought tears to my eyes. He then "se abusó de su confianza" and asked Elder Ryan and I right then and there to sing something to finish the meeting. Well, what could we do? We thankfully had a song memorized from the Musical Recital that we were able to sing, and it came out great! Alberto also speaks fluent Quechua, so I took a video of him talking in Quechua so you guys can hear what it sounds like. He is a really great guy. So, I rushed to get my bags packed on Saturday night and was at the bus terminal at 1 o'clock ready to travel with Elder Jensen (also finishing the mission). We got on the bus, the whole zone (almost) came to say "bye", and we were off. Elder Jensen and I talked for a while, just about how crazy and surreal this all feels, and shared a few of our mission stories with each other. He is such a great missionary, I'll be seeing him back at home seeing that he is from Sugarhouse, SLC. We got to the mission offices, and waited for President to get there to do our interviews. We waited about 2 hours, but it was really an awesome interview. I wont go over what he said on the email though. But just so you know, I really enjoyed it and I love President Calderón. Such an amazing man. 

So after the interviews, we got back to the office house and ended up "sleeping" at 12am, and woke up at 1am to go to Machu Picchu! Yeah, one hour of sleep. We got up and started the trip. I'll have to tell you all about it next week!! But this time was AWESOME. I can't believe the difference from going while being sick, to not being sick and being able to notice and appreciate things I wasn't able to back in December. I'm SO glad I was able to go again. I feel so blessed to be able to visit a Wonder of the World in my own mission. Were the only missionaries in the world who have that priviledge. Machu Picchu is incredible in so many ways. I took some legit pictures to show you all. I hope that one day you all will be able to see it. I cant get over how cool it is.

We got back from Machu Picchu at 6:30pm, had a quick shower, and were on our way up to the mission home for the "last supper" where they prepared beef stroganoff, baked marinated chicken, rice, potatoe salad and Inka Kola to top it off. It was DELICIOUS. Seriously, so good. After dinner, we had a testimony meeting, and after that we watched a slideshow of pictures of all the missionaries who are finishing. It was pretty cool and they gave us a copy. We went to bed at around 1am last night, and woke up at 7 ish... So I'm dead right now. Literally I'm nodding a bit. But wow, its just so weird that all of this is happening! I still dont feel like I'm coming home in just about a week... But I have one last week here in Cusco where I will be until I leave. I'm stoked to visit a bunch of converts before I leave and to see a few more things that I haven't seen yet in Cusco. But I plan to work and enjoy it every minute till I'm getting on that plane. I have been feeling so strange these last few days... I came up with a close comparison to how I feel: Like I'm about to go under a surgery. A big one. Thats the closest I can come to it. Hahaha.

Next week I'll write my last email as a missionary. Thats weird to think about. Till then, "pajkarincama!"

Elder Jordan Van Christensen

PS, when do I speak in sacrament? Do I have a topic, or could I pick my own?
PSS, the machu picchu picture is just to warm you up for the pictures you'll see next week! 
The other is of Elder Jensen and I right before getting on our bus to Cusco.
And President and I last night at the last supper.

July 16, 2012

Leave It All On The Field

Wow.                                                                                                                                                July 16, 2012
+p`hkjpñ lku7yh6j´-Ç
¨_uyh76-lkjhhc vbh cvjxjhkklhbfdyug´çñç`´´'´ç`ñ´çlñ´lkfyuighlgfcdsf`+rftyhujy7809rf65tykuiuopup`´igbn jlñmmjy´ñ´lpgvtestx rw
I just wrote that with my face. Thats about how I feel right now. 2 ish weeks, and counting.
So anyway! This week passed by FAST. Crazy fast. We have been doing a lot of preparations for Roberto and Franciscas marriage on Saturday! We have got to know the boss of the department at City Hall (I just recently remembered that that is what that building is called) that is in charge of civil marriages, and has been a HUGE help to us. Ever since the meeting with the Mayor, she has been making everything 110% easier than before. We are 98.978% sure that they will be able to be married on Saturday. She has been pulling A LOT of strings to say the least. That has also in itself been an answer to my prayers. Funny story, so Mirella, the boss, and being the boss of the department in charge of marriages is not married. Hahahaha Elder Jensen was with me when we found out and he was about ready to make the joke: "Well, if you get married with us, you get half off!" Hahahaha I was rolling. But he didnt. But her boyfriend is a member of the church!!! Inactive, but a member! So, she agreed that we can come to her house and visit with them and chat a bit! Yes, she lives in our sector. Legit. Elder Jensen and I have planned to look for the mayor again and give him a Book of Mormon, and try to take an appt out with his family. Unfortunately this week he was always busy when we looked for him. So, after they are married, its possible that they be baptized the same day, or, Sunday morning. But I am positive that things are going to work out. We can always use extra prayers though! Its pretty tiring, trying to get everything done, helping them financially, literally running to different places, just to get all of their requirements done for marriage. I would say that these last two months ish, I have been literally exhausted. I am just so tired every day. But I am still working my hardest to leave my sector better than it was when I got here. Its hard being a missionary thats about to finish the mission, because if I could go back and start over with all of the knowledge I have now, things would be SO much easier. But thats part of the mission. Its a learning process, and luckily I can give advice to those missionaries that are starting the mission to help them in one way or another. I wish I knew then, what I know now. But then again, I wouldnt change anything in my mission. I am content, but it would have been nice to know! Haha. I'm stoked to help the boys prepare for their missions once I'm home.
So, this being my last week here in Sicuani, I am ready to give my all. To leave it all on the field. I am determined to leave my sector much better than it was when I got here. I hope that whoever comes in my place can have much more success than I had, and that the work here in Sicuani can continue to grow.
Aside from all that, there isn't much news. We continue to work with our investigators that are progressing, and we have been visiting an inactive family that came to church for the first time in a long time yesterday! Its something special to help activate a family and see them all in the chapel. Its like a baptism, obviously not the same, but you feel GREAT! They have a son that isn't baptized yet, and he might be baptized this week.
Its a strange feeling that in a week I'll be in Cusco! On Monday, all of the missionaries that are finishing the mission go to the mission home to have dinner and a small meeting. Its so crazy that this is all happening! Where has the time gone??! I will miss the mission, this country, these people, etc, but on the other hand, I am stoked to be home. Dont get me wrong, I will miss being a missionary having the calling to bring people unto Christ is something so special. But I am excited to see everyone again and just continue on in my life. This isnt the last email, so I dont want to include everything I have to say yet, so I'll cut it here! Cant wait to hear from everyone next week! I'll be writing on Tuesday, seeing that I'll be chillin in Machu Picchu on Monday! Booyah. Take care!!
Elder Jordan Van Christensen

"Fuente de mis Bendiciones"

Wow.                                                                                                                                                        July 9, 2012
This week was REALLY good. To be honest, lots of miracles happened this week, and I'm so grateful. I dont even know where to start!!! Goodness.
Happy 4th of July! Wow, I truly am SO PROUD to be an American. Me and Elder Jensen celebrated with pizza (the only somewhat american food here), a paper mache american flag, sang the national anthem, pledged alliegance, and very festive ties. See photo 4098. It was a really good day, and I'm stoked to be back on US soil soon!
So, on Monday (last week), my comp and I traveled to Cusco for my LAST Zone Leader Council. Pretty weird... But it was really good and I always learn something different, or good ideas come to me about how i can help my zone. After the meeting, my companion stayed in Cusco with Elder Bennington (ZL in the Cusco Zone), and his companion, Elder Galvez, came with me to Sicuani because he is one of the pianists that play in the Musical Recital. So, this week our time was saturated running around doing things to get ready for this event! He had to practice every day with the stake choir, and I also sang, so I had to be there to practice as well. Yeah, I sang! Hahaha, I sang a trio with Elder Ryan and Hermana Martinez (I was her DL in Quillabamba!) the song "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing" in spanish! Which translated is, "Fuente de mis Bendiciones". Hermana Martinez will be going to all the zones in the mission (almost) to direct the music in the recital(s) that will be happening throughout the mission! I also sang a small solo during the song "His Hands", and a duo as well with Elder Ryan for a song called "Te Hallare Mi Amigo". Now, to just give you an idea of the magnitude of this event, 600-700 people came and FILLED the chapel to the rafters. Yeah, I was nervous. President seemed to be impressed with how I sang, because after the recital he came up to me and said, "Elder Christensen, how is it that you have to leave now? We would have made you famous sending you with Hna. Martinez throughout the mission to sing! Too bad you're finishing."  And whats better, you guys will be able to hear it when I'm home! They recorded the whole thing. Audio seperately, professionally, and then filmed it in HD. SO, it was a big deal. President came, along with his wife, President Rojas came as well with his family (counselor to Presidente Calderon). A sister that is from Highland, UT came to sing all the way from Puerto Maldonado! Yeah, Pres flew her to Cusco and sent her here to sing. She has a beautiful voice. After the recital, all of us missionaries got references from the people who visited. Its hard to explain what it is we did, but it resulted in about 90 references for all of the zone!!! Obviously these people are the people who are really interested! We met an entire family that wants us to teach them! They all came and loved the recital. So this should really explode the work here in Sicuani. Were, well, they're hoping to see a lot of success here in the next month or so... seeing that I'm not gonna be here! But after everything, President took the whole zone to eat. It was an AWESOME day.
Next, I took the initiative to talk to the Mayor of Sicuani last week. I went to him with the objective to get cheaper marriages here for the people WE as missionaries bring to get married. I started off explaining to him who we were (even though he pretty much already knew), and what we teach as missionaries. I taught him about the family, and how important it is for the church and the society. I told him that in order for these people we teach who are not married, to live justly or uprightly before God, the society, and to progress in their lives, that they must be married. However, most of the couples we teach do not have the funds to spend on a marriage, and its for that very reason that at times they aren't married in the first place. So, I proposed that we (as missionaries do in other zones) offer community service every other week for and hour and a half to two hours in exchange for cheaper marriages. He was impressed with the idea and he said, "Of course! There is not a problem with that. One moment.." He then called his secretary to call the boss of the department in charge of civil marriages to his office. She walked in within a few minutes and told her whats going down and the deal we are making. He also told her, "Make it as easy as possible for these missionaries to help the people that they have to get married. We will give them a 50% discount on every marriage they bring in." YES! Mission accomplished? Almost.... Elder Jensen and I are going back to meet with him, but this time, to teach/take out an appointment to have a FHE in his home. I felt a little like Aaron from the Book of Mormon that day, but we are stoked to teach the mayor before we leave Sicuani. Even if its just to give him a Book of Mormon, I can say that we tried.
Now, for another miracle! Are you ready for this? Robertos problem with his DNI........... has disappeared. We talked with him on Sunday (his family came to the recital) and this week we are going to help him get all the papers for his marriage ready!! Seriously, I almost cried when he told me that its resolved, and he can move forward to his marriage! Miracles really do happen when you fast. How amazing is that? They will be getting baptized before I leave here. My prayers are being answered left and right, and I am so grateful that these things are happening here before I finish my mission. SO grateful.
I still cant believe that im in my last weeks. How has time gone by so quickly? To be honest, mom, I feel different than I thought I would feel. I still am focused, truly, and I dont think it has fully registered in my mind that in just three weeks I'll be landing in SLC.... Everyone always kids with me like, man, you're probably SO trunky right now.... When in reality, I'm not. I'm just stoked to "die" working hard. I am really happy with whats been happening here these last few weeks. Life is good! I hope you are all doing wel, and have bought tickets to the new Batman movie for the day after I get home... Saturday the 4th! Hahaha I saw a preview and I'm dying to see it. Anyway, I love you all so much! Thanks for all of the support!
Till next week!
Elder Jordan Van Christensen


Hello family and friends!                                                                                                                 July 2, 2012
Well, this week went by quite quickly! First of all, we had interviews and a Zone Conference with President Calderon this week. He first asked about my health, because I was pretty sick last week, then he asked if I was trunky yet. Hahaha I just laughed a said "no", and assured him that Elder Agazzani and I are working hard. We are also, with Presidents help, organizing a huge activity this Sunday! Its a Musical Recital that will include the stake choir, as well as special numbers done by missionaries! So, Hna. Martinez, who was in my district in Quillabamba, will be coming to direct the music and help organize everything. Elder Ryan and I will be singing a duet, which I'm stoked about. Hna. Martinez always told me that I needed to share my talents more, and I did quite a lot in Quillabamba with her. So, she'll be happy that I am going to help out in the presentation. It's gonna be awesome. We printed out 2,000 invitations and got all the wards involved. Should be a great turnout.
It has been a hard week as far as sacrament meeting attendance. We only had 3 people come to church. We can't seem to find Miguel and Ayde in their house... We have gone by at least 5 times this last week, with no luck. We are almost positive they have moved. With our cell phone lost, (yup, thats my bad) we have been trying to find other ways of coming in contact with them. But we talked with her good friend, Rossi, who is a member, and she was almost positive that they moved in with Ayde's family. They are really low on income, and cannot afford their rent. So we are going to try and visit them there... even though they are all JWs. We'll see how that goes.
Thanks so much for fasting for Roberto and Francisca!! We were hoping so much that it would help them, and yesterday when we visited them, we found out that it did!!!! Roberto started to do some researching, and had an idea to speed up the process. I cant explain it right now, cuz its a really long story, but he is going today to see if his idea will work. If this works, he will be able to apply for his ID, and then shortly afterward he can get married and baptized! Their whole family is so great. Honestly. Roberto got up in sacrament yesterday and bore his testimony of how he knows that this is the true church, and he thanked us over and over again for being there for his family, and for showing them the light. He also payed tithing today, and is showing his faith in such amazing ways. As is his son, Frank! He is determined to serve a mission. Yesterday he received the Aaronic Priesthood as a priest, and has already been talking to the bishop and members about preparing for a mission. He is attending Mission Prep now every saturday, and is studying the scriptures and everything so much! Its really so wonderful that he has such a great desire to serve. I can't wait for him!!!!! So stoked. The ward has really helped them feel comfortable, and now they feel right at home.
Oh, before I forget, if you could send space bags, that might help with extra room in my luggage... What do you think? I have given all mine away to other missionaries who have returned home, and now I'm the one needing them to return home! I dont think I will need more than 2, seeing that I'm not going to be taking many things home. But, its just an idea.
I hope that everyone has a wonderful week! You all are in my prayers.
Elder Christensen