This Is Peru!

This Is Peru!

May 4, 2011

Hello my dear family, friends, and others...

Well, this week has been pretty average, with not a whole lot to
report. We have been contacting more, and have found some prospective
investigators, as well as some prospective baptisms. We continue to
work with Leonel, Johnny, Janet, and quite a few others that are
working on their way to baptism. So, I am glad to hear that you haven't
sent the package yet. Go ahead and include 2 or even 3 Book of Mormons
in English. I was able to go on splits with Elder Whitton and teach
Johnny the first lesson. He is a Born Again Christian, and had some
very good questions, of which, we were able to answer with ease in
ENGLISH! :) He is 43 years old, his wife is Katia, and he has a son of
2 years, Jacob. They are raising him speaking Spanish and English.
Cool huh? I might do something like that with my kids. But when we
were over at his house visiting him, he pulled out his electric
guitar, WITH amp, and we started playing guitar! Turns out he has
played for churches when he was young, and has continued to play until
today! This guy can PLAY. I took a turn and played a little bit, then
Elder Whitton, but when Johnny started to play Stairway to Heaven,
goodness, I was impressed! He knows it perfectly, and it was so great
to hear that song!!! But anyway, as we continued to talk, he said
jokingly, "Gosh, I don't think we'll ever get to talk about business
will we?" So with that, I sat up, and said, "Alright Johnny, lets talk
about business." We started to ask him questions to figure out where
he is on his "Spiritual Journey", as we were taught from the beginning
in the MTC. He was very open, and we were able to teach him
comfortably. I cannot tell you how amazing it was to teach the first
lesson for the first time in English. It was so great. He is very
smart, was able to follow where we were going, and had some doubts
about the Great Apostasy. We cleared those up, and it felt so good to
be able to bear my testimony to him in English. I invited him to
church, but unfortunately they had to travel to Arequipa to get some
shots for their son there. Apparently the hospital there is the best
and closest. So, he told us to come by when he gets home on Tuesday.
Sweet! He is so open to talking about the gospel, and told us that we
are always welcome in his home. We challenged him to pray to know if
what we were teaching him is true or not, and that by his faith and
desire, he will receive an answer. Things continue to go with him!
Unfortunately, we weren't able to teach his wife, (who also speaks
Spanish) but we hope to be able to teach her as well the next time.
She asked, very uncomfortably, about polygamy and the church, and all
we could do was laugh about that. She is great, so is he, its only
time that's missing before they find the way.

So, this last week is called the Holy Week, or in Spanish, "La Semana
Santa". But, sadly, its not all that holy. People DRINK until they
can't anymore. I don't know if you saw in the last email the photo of
the drunk passed out, but really, that's how it is here. Even the
members call Juliaca the modern day, Sodom and Gomorrah. (sp?) But I
can testify that it really feels like we are living there, and its
quite evident. Drugs, alcohol, robbings, murders, and in fact, not too
far from where I am, a man was burned alive. He was a rapist, and
sometimes the people take the law into their own hands. The police
here are all crooked, you can pay them off for whatever they find you
with. And aside from all of this, it is the dirtiest city I've ever
seen! You should see this "river" that passes through. It is
absolutely filled with trash. Horrible. But, that doesn't hold us back.
We move forward. We still have success according to our obedience,
diligence, and our love for the work. I am so grateful for the
opportunity that we have to be here serving. I have learned more from
being in this city than I ever thought I would. Although it's starting
to get rrrreally cold, I still do like it here. I wouldn't mind going
to the jungle though! :)

Okay, so dad. I will be taking out about 30 or 40 dollars today from
the account. I had to buy a coat. It was 70 soles, or 25 dollars. We
also as a zone made soccer jerseys because we were the zone of
excellence, and that was 25 soles. So, I gotta pay elder Whitton back
for the coat and the jersey. If you could update me to how much is in
my account, I would appreciate that. And, just so you guys know, Dear
Elder still gets to missionaries here. You can use that if you would
like to as well, and its free. So tell the fam if they would like to,
they can write me through there!

Thank you for all of your love and support, I love to read all of your
letters. Okay mom! Mothers day. We will be calling you. We ALWAYS will
be calling home. You never will call us here. It's a lot cheaper, and
yeah! I don't know yet what time we will be calling, sorry! Just be
home all day, k? Be ready to hear some real Spanish! :) I love this
language, and I learn more about it every day. Okay mom, as well, talk
to Sheri Whitton, my Zone Leaders mom about coming down to pick me up.
Her number is, 9517042868. They live in Cali, but will be moving up to
Utah. I hope you haven't forgotten about that, but please seriously
think about it. I have converts and members that would love to meet
you guys! On another note, I hope you are still updating my blog! Keep
the faith, stay strong, and I hope that this letter finds you all
happy and in good health! Give my love to Grandma, I'm so glad she is
feeling better. Keep Johnny and my investigators in your prayers.

Until next week!

Elder Jordan Van Christensen

Great, great letter!!‏

¡¡Holaaa mi bella familia!!....¡y los demás!

So many good things happened this week, I don't know where to start!

So. First off, we were able to baptize Marjhorie!! (I know, it’s a
little strange way of spelling her name) But it ended up happening on
Wednesday. Which, is fine! She finally is baptized, and is a real
convert. So great! Such a good day.

The next thing that happened is something…. I don’t know how to
express my excitement!!! Ok, so here’s what happened. The other day,
Saturday, we were walking by the Plaza de Armas when all of a sudden,
someone at my side started talking to be in English!!! The
conversation went something like this:

He said, “Are you from here?” Suuuper startled to hear English, I
turned to my right to see a white guy!!I told him,
“No, no I’m not from here. I’m from the states!”
“I am too! I’m from Texas.”
“Right on! I’m from Utah.”
“Oh! You’re Mormon right?”
“Ha, I sure am! I’m here serving my mission!”
“Yeah, I kinda figured. I have family from Utah, they’re members as
well. I’m not though. I’m Christian.”
“Oh no way? So, what brings you here to Juliaca?”
“I’m living here with my wife, she’s from here. We actually met up in
Chicago. We went back here to Perù, and then I took her back up to the
states to get married. We were living there for a while, and now we're
living here! We’ve actually been here for 11 months. I think I know
where you guys live actually..
(he then explained how he is the owner of some properties here in
Juliaca, one of which is right on our same street. A big lot where
people guard their trailers, and big diesels.)
“Yup! That’s where we live! Oh, hey, what was your name?”
“Yessir. My name is Johnny Moser. (Pronounced: mozsher) What was yours?
“I’m Elder Christensen. Elder means missionary, haha. Its not my real name.”
“Ohh, I was gonna say! But hey, I gotta run, but come by the house
sometime and we’ll talk! Sound good? I live.. blah blah blah”
“For sure! Hey, It was way good to talk to you! I’ll see you around Johnny!”
“Yeah, take it easy!”

(All of that conversation was with his Texan accent, haha)

You probably don’t have any idea how intensely excited I am to teach
this guy! To know that he lives here, in our ward, and that he knows
about the church and missionary work??! I couldn’t believe it for a
little bit actually. I was SO stunned and it felt great to be talking
in English! Can you believe it? I don’t know, maybe for you guys
reading this, not so much. But for me, its no coincidence. Just before
this, we were wondering and debating on where we should go. My comp
suggested that we go and visit such and such, but I hesitated for some
reason. I told him that I felt like we should go visit such and such
because we were closer to them…. And on the way we found him! Just
another testimony that the Spirit is truly guiding us, and it feels so

The next thing that happened, just happened on Sunday. So, we have
been visiting Pablo Obregon for ever since I have been here.
Missionaries have been teaching him and visiting him for over a year,
with no success. His wife and kids are members, and not him….Until
Sunday!!! I have been praying so hard to know what I need to say to
get this guy to open up and feel the desire to be baptized. Let me
give you some background on this guy. He is a former mayor. He studied
Theology. He was a member of the Catholic Church studying to become a
Priest, until he decided that that church is filled with “greed and
hypocrites”. And now, he is an orthodontist working and living here in
Perù. He loves to talk politics, and topics that actually have worth.
He tells you how it is, and isn’t afraid to do so! He is the SMARTEST
man I have met on my mission thus far. So. Now that you know a little
bit about Pablo, I had been praying and praying every night to know
what I could do for this guy. I came to the conclusion that him, being
the kind of guy that tells you straight how it is, I felt that I also
had to do the same. So, after praying for courage to be able to do it,
we went and visited him. We were with him and his wife, and we started
to talk. We finally got to the topic of baptism, and I put my hand on
his shoulder and asked him, “What is it your missing Pablo?” He just
kinda looked away, folded his arms, and shrugged, raising his
eyebrows. I then started to, well, tell him how it is. I told him
straight up that we’re not just talking about whatever church, but
that this church is the church of Christ. I told him that baptism
wasn’t just a suggestion, but a commandment. Also that because of him,
his family cannot progress in this gospel. I told him many other
things, including my testimony, and he did not say a word. He was shut
up pretty good. Afterwards, sensing that I was pretty harsh on the
guy, I told him that I didn’t want any of this to offend him, but just
that I really know that this decision will not only bless his life
immensely, but his family as well. This man knows that this church is
true. I could feel it. He knows that Joseph Smith was called of God to
restore the church, and that we had the authority to perform the
ordinances of salvation. He said that not to worry, but he really just
sat there. Thinking. Finally he told me, “Okay. I will talk with my
kids and I will let you know when.” FINALLY. Something!! We continued
to talk with him, and he made the decision to do it Sunday morning.
His family were all there, and you should have heard his wife, Amparo,
her testimony that day. That day was fast and testimony meeting, and
she shared with us her supreme gratitude for being persistent, and to
not have left him because he was “hard.” So many people when they
heard that Pablo Obregon was to be baptized, all were soo surprised!
Including a few that said, “It’s a miracle!” How cool? It was so great
to see the whole ward welcome him, and Marjhorie, with open arms. They
were both confirmed members today, and received the Holy Ghost.

So, last night we found out the changes. And..... I'm staying here! I
never thought I would be so happy to stay in Juliaca! But we have
really been starting to have some success, and it feels so good. Last
night in fact, we visited with Leonel, (he wasnt baptized saturday)
and found out he had gotten drunk, so we talked about the Atonement,
and shared my personal testimony. He then told us that he really wants
to keep visiting with us, and that within the next 2 or 3 weeks, he
will be baptized. My comp and I really feel like he has a testimony,
and that he knows that the Book of Mormon is true. He reads it, and
prays. He actually said, "Im praying in the mornings as well, is that
ok?" I laughed a bit, and said, the more that he prays, the better! He
is awesome, and I cant wait to see him in white.

This week has been one of the best in my mission. We are finally
starting to have some real success! I love this work more that I can
express in words. I love my mission, and there is no way that I would
exchange this experience for anything else. I have never found SO much
joy in my life bringing my brothers and sisters here in Perù to the
knowledge of our Savior, and of his restored church. It’s something
one has to experience to be able to understand. Mom and dad, I’m sure
you both know the feeling. All of you who are RM’s know what I’m
talking about as well. Being a missionary, my whole outlook on life
has changed. It’s amazing, really. I’m so much more aware of the
absolute need that the world has for this gospel. I’m determined to
continue to be obedient, and to continue in diligence, bringing more
people to the knowledge of the truth. Missions are the coolest!!! : )

Take care everyone, I pray for your well being constantly. Oh, tell
Jen and Byron congrats for me!! Hug that big guy for me mom. :) Thats
so great, I loved the pics. My foot dad, is still the same. :/ Kinda
bummed, I think I will have to travel back to Cusco, and get it
checked out more. My comp and I are getting along, and he is a good
son. He is obedient, but sometimes I gotta burn him. Now, about the
package... If you can, send some caligraphy pens. My buddy Elder
Whitton was telling me about them, and it would be cool! Also, send
more chapstick!!! The nivia. Starburst, skittles, and the Pilot G-2
pen. Like 5. And about the boot, I think that yes, I would be allowed,
but I don't know if I would trust the mail. Just send some money, and
I'll go buy some. Also, a leatherman! I have one somewhere in my room,
look for it! Also, a little bit of the pancake instant mix. I cant
think of anything else, but use your imagination! :)

Until next week,
Elder Jordan Van Christensen

This last week.‏

Wow, this week sure has been interesting. It has gotten better! Don't
worry. I'm hanging in there but it just seems like right now in my
mission has been tough. But, I'm tough!...or at least I like to think
so. And I know that with the Lord on my side, I can really do all

So to start off, we don't have much time today. Some elders got to our
Zone meeting late, so we all have to pay for it by less time to write.
But, I can tell you that we will have a baptism today! I'm so excited
for her. Her name is Marjhorie.. I know a weird way to spell it, but
that's how it is when you speak Spanish. She truly wants to change her
life, and she will start it today. I always love to see our
investigators change their life around in order to follow our Savior.
We also have been teaching Leonel. I don't know if I have said anything
about him yet, but we have an interesting story with him. So one day
my comp and I were out contacting, and I stopped in my tracks and said
that we should go up this mountain to look for another contact that we
had about 3 weeks before. I looked up, and saw some people looking at
us from their roof, and found his house exactly behind that house. I
don't know how I remembered him, or his direction, but we hiked up, and
knocked his door. Nothing. Sweet. So, looking around, I saw a guy
cleaning his roof with some of his siblings, and realized that they
were the people that I saw when we were down below. I walked over to
him and started talking to him, asking if he knew who lived in that
house, or if he knew what time they would be back. He said he didn't
know, but then started asking about us. I told him that we are
missionaries, and shared a short message about the plan of salvation
with him. He was surprised, because at first, he thought that my comp
was my translator, and that I was a scientist studying the mountain.
Jajaja, I had to laugh. But after that, he invited us into his home.
Wow! I was so stoked! That was how we found Leonel. I know that I
wasn't supposed to look for our other contact, but that God knew, and
led us to him. He told us that we came into his life right when he had
been going through some really hard times, and that when we would
talk, he described it as a "refuge" from his problems. Satan has never
worked so hard on any of my investigators, as he is with him. The
first time we talked, I almost chocked to death on watermelon, we are
always interrupted my someone or something every time we talk, and
even the dogs attack us! We were encircled by 5 huge dogs on our way
to his house, and they were about to attack. Thinking quickly, I
grabbed a rock, chucked it at one of their faces, and dodged the jaws
of the other dogs as we ran past them. I was truly scared! These dogs
honestly looked rabid, and CRAZY! So I was grateful when we had gotten
past them. But that isn't all. Satan does NOT want him to get an
answer. The worst was during a prayer. He started the prayer, and said
something that I will never forget, "Father, please help me find the
way." He is so confused, and truly wants to leave this confusion.
After that he said a few other sentences, and paused, then abruptly
finished his prayer. He told us that he had become "enveloped" in a
darkness that exceeded that of when we simply close our eyes. Things
started to spin, and he was about to lose consciousness. Just then, he
said he saw a faint light... After that he just couldn't continue, but
had to close the prayer. Wow. I was left with my jaw open. After the
prayer, I myself felt dizzy! It was so strange. But I shared the
experience of Joseph Smith with him, and he himself read it. After
reading, wide eyed, he said, "That is almost the same as what happened
to me..." I felt impressed to tell him that Satan truly knows that he
can and will get an answer through his prayers, to the point where he
attacked him during one of them. I told him that he needs to continue
praying, and that by praying he will very soon leave the confusion
that he is in.

Pretty interesting experience. I know that he will soon receive an
answer, and we are preparing to baptize him this Saturday. If he gets
the answer before then, he will be baptized. I am praying with all
that I have, every day and night, that our investigators will
progress, and receive answers to their prayers. I am so grateful for
the opportunity that we have to be teaching him, and that I was
listening to the Spirit. Who knows, if I would have just blown off
that impression, maybe we never would have found him. I know that the
Lord will guide us to those people who are ready and waiting, and
Leonel is a testament of that. He was ready, is progressing, and will
enter the waters of baptism really soon. He will soon leave the
confusion that the world and all of the other religions bring, and I
am so blessed to be apart of that. I am so grateful for these
experiences that I am experiencing, and I know that I will remember
these for my whole life.

Anyway, mom, yes please send me my long johns. I desperately need
them. I have had a constant cold for as long as I can remember. I want
to go somewhere warm! But I know I'm here for a reason, and that's
because people need me here. I will go wherever the Lord sends me, and
I'll do it faithfully. Don't forget to send the bubble Manila
envelopes, 2 or 3. Also, if you can, send my Canon film camera. I
would enjoy using that. Today we have a soccer tournament with 2 other
zones from Puno. I'll get to see my buddies that I left in Puno way
back when. But, I don't know how much I'll play. My ankle has been
bugging me, and when I was in Cusco I talked with the Presidents wife
about it. (All the missionaries go to her for their health problems.)
She set me up an appointment that day, and they put me on some pills
that are supposed to reduce swelling in my ankle. If nothing happens
in about 5 or 4 more days, I need to travel to cusco again to have a
more extensive check up. Pray for me, please. But more than me, pray
for my investigators. Send my congrats to Porter for me! Tell him I
love him. I love you all, thank you for keeping me in your prayers. I
will write those of you who have written me! Don't worry! :) Keep the
faith, and keep reading the Scriptures. Mom, include in the package
the 2 books, "The Missionaries Little Book of Quotes" & "The
Missionaries Little Book of Teaching Tools". I would LOVE to have
them. Also, the usual candies, oh, and some Take 5 candy bars. Send
some really cool plaid, and striped ties! With lots of colors. :) And
something for my best buddy Elder Whitton for his birthday! :) Its on
the 18th. I love you all, I cant express enough how much I love you.
Have a great week,

Elder Jordan Van Christensen

Elder Christensen...!‏

Hello everyone!

So, this week went by really quick. For a couple of reasons. With me
being a trainer, I was able to travel to Cusco with the District and
Zone Leaders for a leadership conference with President. So we left
Thursday afternoon, and got there around 10 at night. Travel here is
purely through tour buses. And its quite cheap! To go to Cusco from
Juliaca, was like 20 soles. That's about... 7 bucks. And we sat on the
first floor with huge seats, that lay back into a bed basically. Not
too shabby. So I learned a lot in our conference, about being an
example to my comp and teaching him good habits now, while he is
starting. I love training, I really do. But after the conference we
went to the Plaza de Armas and.... ate at McDonalds. The first time I
was there, even though I had about 4 months in the mish, I didn't eat
it. But.... I gave in this time. We all went to eat. The Assistants,
and a bunch of other elders. I ordered a McChicken w/bacon. It was
pretty good... I won't lie. Especially the fries. :) We returned to
Juliaca and the ever growing bitter cold at 430am Saturday morning.
The bus ride home was terrible. It was freezing. I'm now paying that
price with a cold. But, what else is new? I've been cold for my whole
mission. And recently winter is coming. Not too stoked to be working
here in the winter. But what is cool about Juliaca is that before,
this zone was the HARDEST zone in the mission. It had a terrible rep
for being impossible to baptize, and every change it was only 2 or 3
baptisms in the entire zone. WE turned that around. This month of
march, we as a zone baptized 26 people, with the highest number of
baptisms in all the zones in the mission. BAM. We are the "Zone of
Excellence". President asked all of the leaders in our zone to stand
up, and they gave us an applause. Then his assistant said, "If Juliaca
can do it, any zone can!" Hahaha. Gotta laugh... But other than that,
its still dusty, rainy, cold, with mud in all the streets. I rarely go
a day without stepping in mud. Haha, oh well, just gotta laugh about

We were indeed able to watch Conference this Saturday and Sunday!! I
was able to see Rachel in the choir! She looked great, and I bet Eric
was super stoked to see her! I was sooo soo stoked to hear it. It
seems like yesterday I was watching it in the CCM with all my awesome
friends I've made there. Yes, I have passed the 7 month mark. Its
pretty easy to remember right? Seeing that I started on the 1st of a
month. I loved all of the talks. I took great notes, and we will
receive the Liahona, or the Ensign in English next month here Dad, so
don't worry about sending me a copy. I don't have much time to talk
about the talks, but we watched it in a tiny room here in our stake
center, because that was the only room with an extra TV, and we did
watch it in English, thankfully!

I am glad to hear that everyone is doing so well! Please send my love
to Grandma Christensen... I am continually praying for her and
grandpa. I miss them oh so much! I am continually working my hardest,
putting my trust in God, and I know He will take care of me. These two
weeks have been pretty... well you know. Not great. But with
Conference I have a renewed confidence that I can do this! I remember
my divine calling as a missionary, and my eternal heritage. I'm
growing through these trials more than I have ever thought, and I
thank my Heavenly Father every day for them. Its hard, its the hardest
thing I've ever done. Even harder than the LOTOJA. But just like that
race, I WILL finish, and nothing will get in my way! I love you all
more than you know. Keep my investigators in your prayers please. They
need it more than I do. When you get the chance, if you can send me my
film camera that I have in my closet.. would be great. Its a Canon. I
want to start using that as well. I am running low on my Mike N Ikes
as well... Just to let you know... Oh, and I'm getting kinda sick of
my usual ties... Hahah. I got the 3 postcards from Jacquie, tell her
Happy Birthday for me!! And get on mike, tell that dude to write me! I
am keeping you all in my prayers! And mom and dad, I always love you
read your advice, and warming thoughts. They always give me a boost
every week. I am so very grateful for you two. Thank you for always
sacrificing for our family. And mom, I'm still keeping my promise to
you. I'm not letting you down, and I never will. I love you oh so
much! Take care everyone. I hope that I hear from you all very soon!

Elder Jordan Van Christensen