Monday, August 26, 2013

Week 12 at MSU

Hi all! First things first, I got transferred! I'm leaving MSU :( When I think about leaving all the wonderful people on this campus and in our ward, it makes me want to cry! Especially when I think about leaving our recent converts, Bruce and Yifan. They are so great and all the elders say they are the most solid converts they've ever met. It's so true. They have such strong faith. It's going to be hard to leave them but I know that they are in good hands because Sister Dixon is staying at MSU and she is a pro.

On Sunday, Yifan was able to baptize a Chinese girl named Lina that the elders have been teaching. It warmed our heart! When she came up out of the water, he said, "Welcome to the kingdom of God." IT WAS SO AWESOME!

My companions and I sang at that baptism, too, and all the elders were crying which made US want to cry! It was an emotional day. I'm going to miss this ward so much.

But guess where I am being transferred! HOLT! That's the area I visited last week on exchanges! I am sad to leave MSU but so happy to go to this area that I've already fallen in love with! Holt has kittens, ice cream, and A KFC RIGHT BY OUR APARTMENT. For those of you who don't know, KFC is like, my favorite restaurant. What more could you ask for?! 

I will also have a full-time car and be in a family ward. So many changes! I liked walking around campus and going to church with people my own age, but it will be nice to be able to drive to visit people far away, and also to have church with little kids and older people! 

One of my favorite things about the Holt missionaries' apartment (from when I visited) is that at night, when you turn off the lights in the bedroom, there are hundreds of glow in the dark stars on the wall! I can't wait to fall asleep surrounded by that every night!

Another perk is that Holt is only 15 minutes away from East Lansing and in the same stake as the University Ward! This means I'll get to visit everyone again in 3 weeks when we have stake conference! I'll also be able to come back if any of the people I've helped teach get baptized!

Looking back at my time at MSU, I feel so blessed to have been able to serve here. In my 12 weeks here, we've talked to 775 people from a total of 53 countries. Crazy! I love MSU so much, especially its massive amounts of diversity. However, I know that Holt is where God needs me right now, and I can't wait to get there and start serving with all my heart!

Before I forget, my new address is:
Sister Carly Christiansen
2141 N. Aurelius Rd. Apt. 64
Holt, MI 48842

Now I want to attach some pictures! I don't know what I'm doing in this picture but this is my district trying to think of funny faces to make. The guy on my right is our district leader, Elder Lyman. He is so rad! I will miss all of them!

This is me and Dennis!!! I love him SO MUCH! He is from Uganda and is on date to be baptized! I can't wait to come back to East Lansing for his baptism!

In the Living Center, our neighbors are this adorable family with two little girls. We knew we needed a picture with them before we left!

My favorite picture ever. From left to right: Sis. Dixon, Sis. Probert, Bruce, Yifan, and me!
I will miss these people so much!
 The East Lansing University Ward missionaries! The elders are the Assistants to the President (APs). They're awesome (Elders Snow, Masters, and Larsen). We've loved serving this ward!
Thanks for reading my updates! And thanks for all the continuing support! Missionary work is hard sometimes and I really appreciate all your letters and love! This work also brings you the greatest joy in the world. I am so blessed to be on a mission!

I love you all! The Church is true!

<3 Sister Christiansen

Week 11 in Heaven!

Hello all! This week was incredible.

From Monday night to Wednesday morning I was on exchanges (where you swap companions with other sister missionaries) in an area called Holt. I can sum up that experience with some numbers...

Number of cats at this one investigator's house: 15
Number of kittens I had on my lap during that lesson: 4
Number of scratches I got on my face from a kitten trying to play with my hair: 3
Number of Daft Punk bumper stickers I saw: 2
Number of scoops of ice cream I had: 5
Number of fingers I jammed from trying to catch a frozen loaf of bread thrown down to me from a third floor balcony: 2
Number of minutes I spent meditating about what my spirit animal is: 30

That's right, I officially have a spirit animal. Sister Smith is who I was with for exchanges. She is our Sister Training Leader and she loves helping people find out what their "spirit animal" is. It's just a funny activity we did to find out what animals represent us. We jokingly take it way too seriously. Anyways, after much contemplation, I discovered that I am a COCKATOO!!! Woohoo!

On a more spiritual note, Bruce (our first baptism) gave an amazing talk about God on Sunday and he is ALSO speaking about his conversion in stake conference next month! He is SO COOL.

Yifan is doing so great as well! This week he surprised us with two videos he'd made for us!!! I will paste the links at the bottom. They're super embarrassing because they both involve me singing but hopefully the beautiful voices of my companions drown me out!

Also, I got Chinese names this week! One of our investigators, John Ni, gave them to us! Mine is Jia Li which is the Chinese name of Scarlet from "Gone With the Wind" and means "beautiful girl".... He chose Chinese names that sound kind of similar to our American names.

THEN Bruce gave me another Chinese name that represents me! 
Bruce's Chinese name for me is sounds like "Uu Jo" and it means HAPPY UNIVERSE!!! 

Anyways, I guess I can end it there. Michigan is amazing. Here are the Youtube links to Yifan's videos!

Have an amazing week!

<3 Sister Christiansen
ps Sorry for the millions of emails but I just saw this and thought it would be cool for those of you who want to know what a day in the life of a missionary is like!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Week 10? No way!

I love MSU so much!

I don't have much time this week to email, so I have to make this quick, but just trust that this week was incredible!

Our friend Yiming got baptized! The elders were teaching him. He's from China and is so awesome. Soon at church, we are going to have headsets and a translator so that during sacrament meeting, the talks can be translated into Chinese for all our new members! We are also starting up a Sunday School class taught entirely in Chinese. This place is so awesome. I'm trying to learn Chinese but I'm really bad at it!

We've seen so many miracles in this work. I love being a missionary and talking to strangers every day! People really open up to us. We are in such a unique position as missionaries. I never want to take off my name tag!

The highlight of my week was when Frank (a recent convert from China) made a comic for me and my companions. I am "C," Sister Dixon is "D," and Sister Probert is "P." I'm attaching a picture of it below. It is the best thing ever. It is what would happen if we met a robber in the park!

I'm sorry I can't write more but know that I love you all and miss you a lot! I am in love with East Lansing! Have an amazing week! Watch this video!

Here's Frank's comic!

<3 Sister Christiansen

Week 9 in Michigan!

Once again - Amazing week!

Yifan passed the sacrament and Bruce blessed it! I love them so much!

This week we had another baptism! Brooke is AWESOME. She's kind of been a group project with the missionaries since her schedule is crazy. We've all been able to get to know and love her and on Saturday she was baptized! She has an AMAZING story. 

She's had ideas about the nature of God and stuff since she was 5 and her preachers used to just shut her up and tell her not to talk about it. However, when she was 15, her dad told her she could join any church she wanted so she left her church and started exploring. She investigated so many religions including Baptist, Muslim, Buddhist, Catholic, and more. 

One day, she was walking by our church building and just decided to walk in. She immediately felt the Spirit. She found the first person she could and asked them how she could learn more about the Church because it was the first place she had felt that Spirit of God. She started meeting with the missionaries and told them her ideas about God. 

She felt like she had lived with God before coming to earth, and that's what her preachers had always told her not to talk about. When the elders taught her the Plan of Salvation, she burst into tears. We know that we lived with God before we came down to this earth. She had known it too, her whole life, and finally could express her feelings about her divine nature. She continued to pray and ask if this was the true church, and developed an unshakable testimony. At her baptism, she talked about how this church has no gaps. She knows it is truly God's church and that while she felt some truth with other churches, this is the only church that has the fullness of the truth restored.

I love Brooke! I'm attaching a picture of me, her, and Sister Probert into this email. My companions and I sang at her baptism and Bruce played the piano for us! Brooke started crying as we sang, which started a domino effect and by the end of Brooke's baptism everyone was crying tears of joy! It was incredible.

This week we also had dinner appointments! Those don't happen super often in a Single's Ward, but when they do we are SO GRATEFUL! This week we had authentic southern food from a guy who served his mission in Georgia. It. Was. AMAZING. Dry rub chicken, collard greens with bacon, strawberry cornbread, and fried okra... YUM! We also had Burmese food! It was delicious. I love food!

Sorry this email was kind of long but this week was just an amazing week! Michigan is beautiful and every single day we have our breath taken away by the gorgeous scenery. The sky and clouds are always especially lovely! 

My invitation for you all this week is to look up Vocal point's version of "Nearer My God To Thee" on YouTube! Do it!!! You will NOT regret it!!!

I hope you all have a great week! 

<3 Sister Christiansen

P.S. Brooke is the one in the middle. I LOVE HER!

Week 8 in the Great Lakes State!

Okay, AMAZING week.

Bruce and Yifan are such solid recent converts. Everyone in the ward is so impressed by them and their testimonies are so inspiring. They are rekindling everyone's excitement about the gospel!

So we keep track every time we talk to someone new (on the bus, on the street, on campus, etc.) and get to know more about them and invite them to learn more about the church. We added it up this week and since getting to Michigan I have talked to 475 people! I love talking to strangers. You meet people who are at all sorts of different places in their lives. I love also being able to see how the gospel relates to every single person I meet. It's amazing.

This week we sang in church with the ward choir and it was actually such an incredible experience! I can't sing at all, but I was luckily drowned out by the beautiful voices surrounding me. I might be biased, but holy cow it sounded amazing. It was so cool to look out at the people sitting in the congregation and watching their reactions to our voices. Yifan got so excited and had a huge smile on his face the whole time! 

This week our miracle was Dennis! He has been taking the lessons from the missionaries for almost a year but has never committed to be baptized. This week, we got to know him better which was a blessing. He is from Uganda! So I got to talk to him about how I used to tutor girls in Uganda over Skype. He got really excited about that and started telling us all about Africa. It was such a tender mercy because he finally started opening up to us as missionaries. And get this - HE COMMITTED TO A BAPTISM DATE! I was so grateful to be able to apply my past experiences to my missionary work here. Another blessing of tutoring those girls is that my companions have never been able to understand Dennis's thick Ugandan accent on the phone, but I have a lot of practice with that! So now they just make me answer every time he calls, haha. We love Dennis.

Overall, it's been an incredible week and an incredible mission. I am learning so much and at such an accelerated rate! There's no place I'd rather be right now. I love Michigan!
For this week's spiritual message, I want all of you to check out this AWESOME article from the August Ensign. IT TALKS ABOUT SPACE! I was freaking out when I saw it. Here's the link!

Have an amazing week!

<3 Sister Christiansen

Week 7 in Michigan!

This has been a truly incredible week!

YIFAN WAS BAPTIZED ON SATURDAY! Bruce baptized him! They are both from Shanghai. The Spirit was SO strong at the baptism. Everyone was crying tears of joy. Yifan bore his testimony at the end even though he was really nervous about his English. But he was amazing! For those of you who know the story of Lehi's dream from 1 Nephi chapter 8, you will love this. Yifan looked out at everyone and said, "I will always hold to the iron rod and happily wave goodbye to those guys in the strange building." It was so awesome!

This week has just been FULL of miracles. I try to keep these emails short so people will actually read them, so I won't go into detail, but just trust me when I say that GOD IS REAL! He hears our prayers and always answers them when we have faith.

One quick funny story - There's a recent convert in our ward named Frank. He is from central China and is HILARIOUS. I think I sent out a picture of him from Bruce's baptism where his mouth is open SUPER wide. 
Anyways, the weather has been really warm here and the sun is out every day. Frank rides his bike everywhere and doesn't like how bright the sun is. He doesn't have sunglasses, so instead, he's been riding around town wearing a Darth Vader mask. He just figured it was the most reasonable thing to do. WE LOVE HIM SO MUCH! He is awesome.

Also, can we talk about how HOSTESS IS BACK?! TWINKIES HAVE RETURNED!!! At the grocery store this morning though, the three shelves they had designated for Twinkies were empty :( But alas! Below it, hidden on the very back of the shelf, was a box of HOSTESS CUPCAKES! MY FAVORITE!!! Needless to say, I was very excited.

I hope you all have an amazing week!
Make every day an adventure!

<3 Sister Christiansen

P.S. This is Yifan! We love him!