Monday, February 29, 2016

$300 for mangos

1. What is the very best thing you eat on a regular basis?
That is kind of a hard question. Most consistently we eat not very good food because it is cheap and I am saving money for mango season. Right now I have about 10,000 Taiwan dollars saved up just for mango season. We eat 鍋貼 quite often which is kind of like a dumpling but it is long and fried. Very cheap and unhealthy. We only do that when we are really poor or looking for trouble.

2. What is the grossest thing you have eaten in Taiwan?
Stinky tofu or pigs skin because they leave the hair in it and I hate eating hair and stinky things.

3. Are you still on bikes, or do you walk or take public transportation?
We bike if we are going to certain places but mostly just walk.

4. What have you learned over the past 19 months about the gospel that you really did not understand before?
The Atonement. I know at least a little more how it works and why it is so crucial. 

5. What is your favorite thing to teach from Preach My Gospel?
The restoration is central to everything that we teach. 

6. Do you like your Mission President?
Yes, he is awesome.

I started ponderizing for the first time this last week and I actually have enjoyed having a scripture on my mind all week to keep my thoughts in line with the work. I chose Jeremiah 29:12-14 which reads, "Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. And I will be found of you, saith the Lord..." 

I have been trying to focus on my prayers recently because I feel that a lot of the time they are just done to pray and not to actually communicate with our Father in Heaven. We are praying all day everyday and it is really easy to say a meaningless prayer. The scriptures have this role to remind and teach us about simple but precious blessings such as prayer. 
Mission Leader Conference was fun this last week. It felt almost like we were in a business conference for part of it haha. I enjoyed it and learned a lot. I still feel like I don't really belong in the circle of awesome missionaries. I know most if not all of the missionaries in attendance and they are those who I have looked up to, who have always been examples to me, and I don't feel I quite fit in. 

A guy from main land china surprise attack kissed me the other day.


Elder Henry David Christensen 

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Henry's Daily Routine and Some Questions Answered

Every day we wake up at 6:30 and exercise till 7:00, shower, eat breakfast and then have studies for three hours. We are usually out the door by 11:00 and just get going. Schedule wise we are pretty much the same as every other missionary. 

As far as differences do go, we have the responsibility to go with everyone in the zone on exchanges. We go on about two 24 hour exchanges every week where both companion-ships stay at our house and we sleep on mats (just like the pads we use while hiking but not as soft). That is always tiring. 

One of our biggest responsibilities is to lift, inspire, and motivate and it is hard to know how to do that and then lead by example as well. It is super fun, but it is really tiring and I am stressed more than ever. I am learning on the go.

My companion Elder Sessions will have nine siblings by the time he gets home. He is the oldest and is a wonderful definition of leading by example. I have never before personally met anyone who is as thoughtful about his deeds as Elder Sessions. An astute example of a wonderful missionary. I love him a lot.

My apartment is pretty nice. Here we only get baby cockroaches and no big ones thank goodness. And the shower is usually lukewarm which is better than cold. Our washer and dryer are the best I've had and we live in the middle of the biggest night market in the mission. We walk outside at night and there are billions of people. But none of them live here. Great area nonetheless.

Both of the assistants to the president (AP's) are my age on the mission and we will all head out at the same time. It has been fun working with them and learning from them. They are really funny and don't ever miss a chance to compliment someone while on the road. 

Another great responsibility we have is that we are held responsible for every member in our zone and when they struggle it is our job to help. This also means when we report, we report directly to President, which can be nerve racking. I am enjoying it all nevertheless. My district is awesome. My companion is awesome. My area is beautiful and also pretty convenient.

I love you all and I hope you have a great week!
Elder Henry David Christensen 

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Happy Chinese New Year

First things first. I miss milk so much. Crepes too. I am dying for avocado. I miss milk.
Selfie and my desk
This week for almost every meal we ate at a different member's house to celebrate the Chinese New Year and it was fun at first, but I was sick of eating pizza for every meal after the 2nd time but still had pizza for 4 more meals after that. Haha. Still I am grateful. 
It was fun but stressful because we are supposed to keep it (the dinner and share) under an hour.  But a lot of the time the members think that is just a loose rule and they aren't even done cooking by the time we get there. It is stressful! So be wary of missionaries time when they come over! It took away a lot of time we could have used in other places more effectively.
saki! Don't worry, it is not Japanese alcohol... it is cream soda
Eating was not too bad though. Most of the food was great and it is fun to get to know the members better. The worst part of it all was that all of our conversations ended up being about marriage and what we are going to do after the mission and all that stuff and it was distracting. Our finding time was very ineffective as our hearts and thoughts were carried away in after mission thoughts. 
pikachu surfing
Sunday was a little better because we did not meet with any members and therefore were not full of fattening foods and 要回家的思想s. It is funny however that we as missionaries spend so much time focusing on other families and their importance but are not to think of it for ourselves yet. I think missions are like a 2 year prep. for marriage haha.
There is a place here called "jiu fen" and we are going there today. It is the grassy field scene in Spirited Away when they come out of the red building and enter the other world. So it will be cool to see. 
We were able to present what was my first ever zone meeting last week and while it took a lot of work and we were both very nervous it went pretty well. 
We also were able to go on exchanges with a struggling companionship and help them. It was cool seeing how just after the exchange they were able to turn their area around. Super cool.
Here are some of my favorite lines from a favorite hymn:

More holiness give me, 
More patience in suff'ring,
More sorrow for sin,
More faith in my Savior,
More sense of his care,
More joy in his service,
More purpose in prayer.
More gratitude give me,
More trust in the Lord,
More pride in his glory,
More hope in his word,
More tears for his sorrows,
More pain at his grief,
More purity give me,
More strength to o'ercome,
More longing for home.
More fit for the kingdom,
More used would I be,
More blessed and holy--
More, Savior, like thee.

Elder Henry David Christensen 
my new guitar (got it off the streets but it is super nice haha)


Monday, February 8, 2016

Mice and Men

The amount of pressure I am feeling is hard to describe as I have endeavored to become a role model for the missionaries within my zone. It is a very different amount than being a district leader. I am ever humbled by the amazing missionaries I am serving with and also worried for those under mine and Elder Sessions jurisdiction whom are struggling.
We had a lot happen this last week including the missionary leadership conference. I learned an incredible amount about the missions goals and how we hope to attain them, moreover, how important it is for me to lead by example. No matter how great the pain, tiredness, sadness or fear that I feel is, I must not break. 
I have my companion by my side, although there is a great half that remains on my shoulders. A stanza written by one of my favorite musical artists states perfectly my thoughts on leading this zone. 

They say:
I ponder of something great. 
My lungs will fill and then deflate.
They fill with fire exhale desire. 
I know it is dire, my time today.
My time is short but my desire is great. I hope to be able to bring this great vision and desire to those with which I serve. I invite you to pray everyday. I invite you to read the words of the prophets every day. I invite you to love others and do your best to improve daily. In essence, I invite you to follow the message of our current prophet and seer, President Thomas S. Monson, which is, "Keep the commandments!"

Elder Henry David Christensen 

sorry this is all I took pictures of this week


Monday, February 1, 2016

Northern Ranger

seal hydration mask
This last week I got a call on from President Jergensen. He asked if I would be willing to move up to Taibei's North Zone. I accepted. I packed Wednesday night and then left the next morning. I was a little pressed for time but other than that it was pretty smooth. The transfers changed a little so now we just travel solo to our new area. It was pretty weird being alone especially because my ticket put me right next to a sister. 
my new comp
Besides that and the 30 minute delay on my train, I made it to my new area. I am now in Shi Lin and I am the new Zone Leader here. I am excited partly for the new experience and because this zone was just recently created, but mostly because I will get to work with and learn from many other missionaries.
Shi Lin is known mostly for its night market, which is huge and takes up a great portion of our area. One the weekends about 5-10 thousand people will come to it. So it is a pretty popular place. We "find" there in the day, when there are more locals for us to teach, but don't really go into it very often unless we are eating dinner there. 
In the future we will be doing about 2 exchanges a week, so I will have plenty of time to really figure out the area. I am still trying to get used to the towering buildings and bright lights. It is very different here from anywhere else I have served, but I already like it a lot. It is fun because earlier in my mission this area was my ZL's area and I would come here on exchanges from time to time, so I already feel like I know some people and places.
Elder Sessions is my new companion. I have already learned a lot from him and still have a ton that I need to learn from him. He is very kind, thoughtful and open. He is a hard worker and a great missionary. I am honored to be serving with him. I anticipate that I will stay here until my time in Taiwan ends, and will probably have one more companion. I am anxious but also very excited to help the members and people here! 

Elder Henry David Christensen 
last district meeting in miao li

you could say we went all out