This is probably the only post that will be from THE Elder Christensen.

If you are reading this you probably know me and are close to me so I won't really describe myself...

But today is Sunday May 02, 2010. I get set apart tomorrow as a MISSIONARY for the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints at 8:30 P.M. These last couple days have been a whirl-wind but I still have yet to fully grasp the concept of flying to Brazil Tuesday morning so I'm betting the coming days will just OWN me from the inside out as far as craziness goes. I am so excited to head off into the unknown, and am ready to tackle any challenge that comes my way. My mom and dad taught me right, and I am so thankful to you all of you that prepared me for getting this far. You all know who you are

Anyways the blog that follows will pretty much just be a post of Emails that are from me to my family and friends, and it will be a good way to see me progress through my mission first hand. Even if my emails aren't necessarily to you don't feel weird about reading them. I want as many people to share this experience with me as I can.

God be with all of you until we meet again. You'll need it while you don't have me to bestow my presence upon you. haha. I'll see you all in a couple years.


Send Me A Letter, I Miss You.

Elder Michael Scott Christensen
Brazil São Paulo Interlagos Mission
R. Euzébio de Souza, 121
Jardim Londrina
05638-100 São Paulo - SP

Nov 29, 2010

Bobelisk... blairskkkk‏

So this week was yet another week here. We had a Multi-zone conference which is something that only happens every 3 months and that was spiritually uplifting and I got to mess around with the other missionaries so that was pretty fun. Apparently ``Christmas Time´´ in Brazil is code for ``Welcome to Your Fiery Doom Time´´ It´s seriously sooo hot. I don´t think that I´ve been 100% dry for a couple of weeks. But it´s cool. The drone of a cheap oscilating fan puts me to sleep and the fact that my skin is sufficiently hydrated by my own sweat at all times is just down right convenient.

And I don´t know if anyone has heard, but the army of brazil which rarely/never gets used was deployed to Rio de Janeiro to kill some drug traffickers and that is a big deal to everyone around here. I´m glad the favela where I am is super tranquil. In 5 months here my companion has never been robbed, and when you consider that he is dressed in a shirt and tie and walks with americans that is pretty sweet. But the police here aren´t so trusting of the members of ``the community´´ (code name for the favela because no one likes that word). There are sooo many cops here. Cops on motorcycles, cops in cars, cops in SUV´s, cops on foot, cops in sox... they have it all. The funny part about that to me is they roll around way too heavily armed. The other day an SUV rolled by with 4 policeman in it and they all had uzi´s and assault rifles. But no worries, they think we´re super cool. they are always like ``if all the kids were like you, I wouldn´t have a job´´ and then they laugh and try to speak english to me. ``wuts my nameey?´´ uhhh... gandolf. I like them. I seriously have a lot of respect for the police here because they do a good job.

The other day though we did see a robbery. It wasn´t anything too special. There is a road that runs close to the favela where lots of cars stop and some kids ran up and broke a car window and took their purse and took off. It was pretty legit, because they were legitly sprinting in flip flops. I was impressed. it all happened in like 10 seconds or less and they were gone. all about 12 years old too.

But really this week wasn´t anything toooooooooooo crazy. I´m finally getting the hang of the mountain of names and faces in the ward and of the people we teach and the rediculous number of roads and alley ways here. It´s nice because I finally feel like I can stop worrying about getting lost and start focusing more on the spirit and what we should be doing to help specific people. Seriously though, look at my area on google earth. There is a big road called Giovonni Gronchi that I´m pretty sure connects my area to the Morumbi Stadium here in Sâo Paulo. It´s pretty close to the mission office too so you can use that address to get close, then find the Avenue Giovonni Gronchi, and there is a huge area of houses that are not apartment buildings and will probably be mostly black from the sky because of the type of roofing they use. It´s across the street from an enormous building that is our chapel, and a bakery called Paderia La Roma. If you manage to find it, you´ll see that it´s a grid, that is networked with a rediculous number of alley ways and what not.

Or also maybe if you put in Paraisópolis which is the name of the favela into google images you can find something. But who knows. It would be cool if you could see it because, really, things like this don´t exist in the united states and it´s hard to explain. But so goes my life here as a missionary. Haha. I´m afraid I´m going to forget the stuff that is cool to everyone there because it´s not cool here. I try sometimes to remember what happened during the day to write in my journal and I find mysely thinking, ``today was a normal day nothing to write´´ which is the truth, but then I remember ``I saw an enormous black dude dressed up like a woman prancing around in the street, I saw a drunk dancing man (who dances pretty good) trying to fight someone else while dancing, I saw 5 kids riding the same crappy old motorcycle at the same time, I met the Mui Thai champion of the ghetto in which I live and he´s a member of the church, etc. etc. etc.´´ It´s just that, that is a normal day. But as I said, so goes life as a missionary.

But, I love you all. Have a good week and remember that I am dying of heat stroke while you freeze in the snow. Happy thanksgiving. Oh and to all that have sent letters in the past 2 months: whoops. haha I am going to try to write something down, I´m serious, but we´ll see because I have an activity (volleyball) and won´t have much time this week. Your letters are important and strengthening to me and I promise I will respond before christmas. so yeah...

k, bye.

oh and the cat costumes looked hilarious. Especially because the cats looked super pissed.

Nov 22, 2010

Feeling better‏

So, I am not sick anymore. The sickness absolutely destroyed me the rest of last monday and I just stayed home shaking because I had a fever of 102.something. But the next day we worked and I had a little bit less of a fever and so it went untill about thursday or friday when I woke up totally good but pretty weak. I ended up not eating for 3 days, and just drinking water in small portions, so my body got pretty tired. But it´s all good now so whatever. My mission president says it was something viral that I caught. woops.

But to explain a little bit more about the area I´m in now, It´s one of the most inner-city areas we have. Our mission doesn´t have a lot, so it´s pretty exciting to be somewhere that is not in the boonies. We are a stones throw away from the Morumbi Stadium where the São Paulo Football Club gets it´s game on. Last night some random band that I didn´t recognize was there giving a concert and there was a helicopter literally right above our building filming it, so it´s an area that is drastically different than my last area where we´d get lost in the jungle and find weird stuff in the trees. It´s super close to the mission home and all that stuff, so we actually walked to our area after the transfer meeting. The other weird thing is seeing people that have money. There all sorts of Porsche Cayenne S and blacked out BMW´s rolling along the main avenue pumping crappy techno or whatever. And lot´s of buildings. It´s actually kind of like being in seattle sometimes, but not really because it´s so culturally different.

And then you have the favela. A Favela is a sort of ghetto. they generally have a huge block of government built roads that are organized with a basic sewer and electricity system that follows the roads, and the people just tie into the power and water and build their own houses. It´s kind of like a huge game of legos. You just buy your little square of land, buy a whole bunch of rebar, concrete, sand, and bricks, and you make a house that you hope won´t fall down anytime soon. Then you rig up the power and water, and if you haven´t died yet you live there. Because of this it turns into this labrynth of alleyways and tunnels and random stuff that the people make and name. It´s kind of like and ant hill actually. thinks an area smaller than meadow springs, with 150,000 people living in houses that they built themselves. It kind of reminds me of movies about inner-cities during the 80´s, because every here still wears hammer pants. So yeah, that is the favela. We spend a lot of time there because there a lot of people. I´ll try to get a few pictures before I leave, but we´ll see because flashing a digital camera around in the middle of a favela when you are dressed like a missionary and no one you know is super fond of americans isn´t incredibly smart.

But yeah, it´s nice being in the city. There is a supermarket here. It´s feaking awesome. So whenever we eat lunch with the members, I tell all the members that I´ll teach them how to make something american if they will teach me how to make tons of good stuff and they go crazy. This lady gave me a cook book of different desserts that aren´t to hard to make and told me she wanted me to keep it to remember their family. Welp, I will, everytime I am eating awesome candy I made or something. And I taught a family how to make pancakes, and they went crazy. I brought the maple syrup and everyone was like ``ooohhhh how chic, maple syrup´´ haha. I get a kick out of stuff like that. Next time I´m teaching them something else from the land of magic ``french toast´´ haha. The best part is that sometimes it´s like the best thing that has ever happened to them, and they feel the need to teach me how to cook something incredible too. So I´ve learned to cook and preserve jams, cook random types of candies and sweets derived from tropical fruits, lot´s of fried magic, etc.

One thing that is kind of annoying, is that it´s incredibly easy to be successful here. I know, I know, ``oh poor baby´´ but seriously it´s a set back. It´s hard because my companion has been here for almost 5 months and he forgot how to work hard. When he gets tired, he wants to go to a members house and just chat it up with them, and he gets mad when I ask him how that will help us and if he thinks it´s what we should really do. I don´t want to be a turd, but the last thing I am going to do is sit around. Buuuuut, I am hoping that through a good example he´ll figure it out and we won´t have conflicts, because as far as a member of the church goes my companion is rock solid. His dad died when he was 14, his mom who is alive isn´t a member, but he is totally confident that through patience and faith everything will work out. That is generally the case with the brasilians: they are not super good at keeping rules and you have to keep them in line sometimes because they love naps and to sit around, but many times they are the only member of their family that is in the church, and they are on the mission so that they can help their family and give future generations an easier time. Here in 15 years I´m fairly confident that 95% or more of the missionaries here will be natives, because there area lot of kids being born into the church, so that is cool.

Also we had a stake conference here last week with almost 2,000 members in the chapel. That was epic. In our mission every ward has a pair of missionaries and a stake is a zone, so there was a bunch of missionaries there and about 40 or 50 investigators because we all tried to bring 10 with our ward. Then they had a section of seats reserved to investigators, and the whole stake conference was about why the church is so good for families and they had a whole bunch of recent convert testimonies and stuff like that. I was just blown away at the help that this stake is giving us, because in the last stake we had little to no support. I think it´s easy for them to remember the importance of missionary work, because our stake presidency, and our bishopric, and really just about everyone over the age of 15 or 16 in the whole church, are converts. here in about 60 years when they start dying off, everyone will forget and it will turn into the united states because everyone will have been born into the church. Heck, my life here in 2 years will go back to that state because I´ll go to BYU and forget that people exist outside of the church. haha. I hope not... it´s a good feeling to know the differences you are making in someones life have consequences of lasting happiness.

But so it goes here in São Paulo. Lots of stuff to do, and not a lot of time to do it. The Paulista life style.

Nov 15, 2010

Week one of transfer 2‏

So I got transfered. It´s awesome, I got moved in to what is argueably the better area in our mission to work. The people here are hilarious and super receptive. Good combo. My area is called Vila Andrade (VEE-lah an-DRAH-gee) and it´s got the second biggest favela in São Paulo, Paraisópolis. There are about 150,000 people in the favela alone, so we´ve got some doors to knock. But it´s pretty thuggin´. The favela is like a living moving creature that never sleeps or stops playing music. And what is better, is that my companion is one of my brasilian roommates from the MTC. Elder J. Silva. So I´ve got 6 months and he´s got 4 and a half. Woohoo for newbs.

But this week was great... until last night. I had this crazy dream that every time I tried to talk to someone, I got super sick. Then I woke up super sick. So I went and threw up quite a bit, and felt better, and went back to bed. Little did I know that I would throw up every 20 minutes for the next 5 hours. I ended up puking 16 times in total, and just gave up with eating and drinking and sleeping. So today I´m feeling pretty interesting, given that I don´t have a drop of water in my body or food for that matter. And to make matters better it´s super hot and in my state of confusion I put on a long sleeve shirt. Luckily I´m not physically capable of sweating...? But after vomit number 16 I passed out on a couch and my companion did my laundry and cleaned the house while I was sleeping, so that was nice.

My companion is hilarious. And super animated, AND intelligent. No offense to my last companion, but he was none of those and I was dying inside. But he´s from Recife, and the accent there is more or less like french. He liked dad´s mustache, and blah blah blah. Sorry it´s hard for me to think right now. So I think I´ll just end this email and pretend I feel good or something. Lovesss

Nov 8, 2010

The transfer...‏

Guess who´s getting transfered? Not my companion. Me. Finally.

Don´t get me wrong, I love this place, but I´m ready to get going somewhere else. Something about the face that we have to walk uphill to get home everyday is starting to wear on me. And the fact that most people I talk to on the street know me, or have talked to me at least once. Even the dogs know me, and I recognize them and know their personalities. hundreds of them. that means it´s time to go.

and so I´m off. Given that I am not allowed to use that jacket and it´s huge, i´m leaving it in the house amongst the mountain of abondoned items. Also I am leaving behind my companion. I´m not going to lie, in a creepy way I´ve grown attached to him over the 3 months that I spend every hour of the day with him, but definitely not in a gay way, and I am definitely not sad at the prospect of a new (hopefully cheerful) companion. I can´t even count the number of members that told him to smile more. BUT, he´s cool. At transfers I´ll give him a high five or a thumbs up and ask him about the area. So lessoned learned, when you try super hard you can like anyone.

But this week was the week of weirdness and near death experiences. Story number one: so I´m taking a shower on tuesday, and I was smelling a smell of burning plastic, but I always smell that smell when I use that shower, so no biggie. Then the room filled with steam... smoke...? no, I´m pretty sure it´s steam. oh wait, that is definitely smoke. So I turned and looked at the electric shower head, and lo and behold, it was throwing sparks and fire all over the place in a tiny tile room. Then it became a battle of wills. I had to get close enough to an electric death trap to turn it off, while soaked in water. Trusting in the 10,000 times that I´ve been electricuted before I just bravehearted it and took one running/yelling step towards it after minutes of thought and breathing smoke and turned it off. Luckily it was anti-climactic and I lived without getting shocked. Turns out, loosly wrapping exposed wires in electrical tape in a shower doesn´t keep them from corroding. Who´da thunk it?

So I bought some wire, tape, and realizing I don´t have money used a knife to fix it. And having avoided electricution to this point went into the job pretty confident. So I cut the power at the breaker, cut the wire without getting shocked, stripped one end with the knife, and when I went to strip the other wire, got electricuted. I think something about the last name ``Christensen´´ made that one inevitable. So I cut power to the whole house, and finished the job with a flash light in my mouth. The funniest part to me came when my companion bragged to the members about how lucky he is that he already worked with construction and ``re-wired´´ the shower. First of all, he hid in the other room asking me if I was sure I knew what I was doing. Second of all, we (I) didn´t wire anything, we cut off the corroded parts and re-connected it. A four year old can do that. But I let him tell the members how manly he is, because after all, he´s super manly.

Story number 2: this one is still baffling to me and I don´t really get it, but I tell what I know. I was sitting in church talking to the Bishop after church, and this crazy, really well dressed lady, busted in and asked if I was a north american. I sat there thinking about whether or not she would kill me if I said yes.... and after a while the bishop said yeah. My companion said I just stared off into space for like 20 seconds thoughtfully. Then she pulled out this huge book of notes and reciepts and newspaper clippings and related a lot of random information that made no sense to me or anyone else. She showed me a lot of american signatures and told me she was the mistress of Barack Obama. She had a bunch of notes from him, but I doubt their validity given that they were written in portuguese... but who knows...? I´m just glad she didn´t whip out a prison shank of a gun and kill me. So I just told her that I don´t know Obama, but I can tell her about Christ if she wants and she got super mad and stormed out cussing. Only on the mission.

But hey, that is life. I don´t know where I´m headed, but it´ll be good. UNtilllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll next week.

Laters. Lurves you alls.

Nov 1, 2010

catch-up email‏

So, as my email last week was less than desirable with length and content, I´ll catch up with this letter. First of all, kelsey´s mask is awesome, and her tales of love ´em and leave ´em make me laugh. I´m not gonna lie, we utilize the young women in our ward to get stuff done too, but with us we always tell them to tell all the young men to go on missions. And... it works really well.

Also I need to say that the letters that I recieve from grandma are always my favorites. Sorry everyone else, but my grandma is just cooler than all of you. I always feel this odd sense of pride seeing that my grandmother has a funnier sense of humor than most people my age, AND A STRONGER TESTIMONY. Bam. owned you all. love you grandma.

So this week was full of stuff out of the ordinary. Monday I made an amazing cake, Tuesday was interviews with the pres, Wednesday the keys to the chapel didn´t work and we went on a long excursion to have our district meeting in another city, Thursday we had a metting with Dallon H. Oaks all afternoon that was just the missionaries of our mission, Friday we went on a division and I got to hang out with our District leader who is hilarious, Saturday was a baptism that we had in a rented out house and a pool the elders of the other ward constructed because our chapel is being renovated, and Sunday was a huge party for the returned missionaries of the ward here during church because the last of 8 that all went out within the same year returned. It was a crazy week, and we had to just about kill ourselves some days to get everything done, but it was pretty great because of that.

The meeting with Dallon H. Oaks was pretty cool, and he gave us a lot of really specific instruction for our area because he was with some area 70s and also the president of the area of Brazil. There was a lot of power contained in that room, and it was easily to feel. That combined with the interviews we had tuesday gave me a lot of direction with the more missionary-ish things we do, but something that Dallon H. Oaks eased my mind about the work that is being realized here. He said something to the effect of let the Lord do some of the work, because it´s selfish and rediculous to expect yourself to change the whole world you live in. You will do some of it, or maybe even a lot of it, but you won´t ever do all of it. That was good because I go crazy sometimes trying to solve all the problems we see here. When he said that statement I realized all the stuff that has been accomplished already, and I stopped sweating for a few seconds. He´s a cool and very inspired servant, and there is really too much that he said to be contained in one email, so maybe later...?

Also friday on the other side of the spectrum I got hit in the head with a brick. Some kid just chucked it at me and connected with the back of my head when I wasn´t looking. But luckily it wasn´t a whole brick, and it didn´t break my skin or leave a lump, so I just smiled and gave him a thumbs up and said ``thanks.´´ I was super pissed until I saw it was just a kid who lives on the street. Then I just laughed about it because it was yet another new thing I can cross of my list of things to experience in life. Get hit in the head with a brick: check.

Oh and I found a way to use the $10.00 you sent me, I bought a legit government issued backpack and a bunch of portuguese school books off of one the kids in the ward. Now I have a backpack that is sick looking and says ``Governo de São Paulo´´ among other things on the side of it and I can get up to a sophmore in highschool level of competancy in portuguese with brazilian grammer. That will be nice because i didn´t have a lot to study to learn the language before. Now I´m set, and I have a backpack to use at college when I get back.

But as far as packages go, I probably don´t need peanut butter or syrup anymore because I got the other package. Also they have vanilla, brown sugar, and most other things here. They even have corn syrup, it´s just expensive. They do not however have maple, but now I have a ton of it so we´re set. And I´ll try to make peanut butter today, so we´ll see. Hopefully I´ll be self sufficient there too. Just buy tools. Don´t forget the goal here... and if you run out of tools to buy, get creative. Heck, buy a welding torch. I´ll probably do a welding class at CBC when I get back that summer. just think ``perfect tool kit´´ and work toward that goal. It´ll last longer than overpriced postage.

But yeah that is about it. A bunchhh of return missionaries bore their testimonies yesterday, and it made me sad already. I´m going to hit 6 months this week, and probably leave my first area next tuesday (but who knows). Everything is passing by so fast. I just want it to slow down a little bit, or somehow gain the ability to be perfect so I can feel 100% good about what I do on a daily basis. I´m not sure I wanna go home... but then again yes I am. It´s just a bittersweet reality that I get to ignore for 18 more months and then lament afterwords for a couple weeks.

and so it goes. I love you all and I miss everyone´s sense of humor.

watch hot rod for me this week.