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

Jan 31, 2011

Yet another transfer

So, I got my weekly mass email from the president that said the greater part of our mission will be transfered and have new companions. Wait a second... YOU FORGOT ONE. Oh well. I am staying here 6 more weeks with my same companion. Something that I am learning, is that if your companion gets on your nerves, you are going to stay with him for a while. I am just throwing out an estimate, but at the rate things are going, I think I am going to hit my 1 year mark in my second area. Woohoo. Luckily for me, my first area was one of the 2 areas that everyone wants to go to, and my second area was the other one. haha. Gotta love it.

In other news I ate lunch with a hilarious family the other day. The Viñas family. Relatives of the 70. I know no one probably recognizes the difference, but that name is not brasilian. The husband is from Uraguay and the wife Ecuador and the speak portuguese super good even though they´ve only been here for 7 months, but I am the only one that understands them because they mix spanish and that is hard for native brasilians to understand. But here is the cool part, he went on an english speaking mission in texas (he said that sucked because everyone spoke spanish, but he wasn´t technically allowed to) and studied at BYU with his wife. So they have these two little girls of like 6 and 4 years old who were born in the united states and spoke english at school for 6 years and in home when they weren´t speaking spanish at home, and when I came in they looked at me for a while, and yelled without and accent, ``DADDY HE SPEAKS ENGLISH!!!´´ and ran around yelling stuff in english. I felt like I was watching TV because I don´t even speak english right anymore so it was super weird to hear and it made me sooo happy. My companion asked them in portuguese what their names are, and one said in spanish that her name was ``poop´´ and then they laughed and ran around and he asked again and she was like ``my name is poop´´ but in english and ran around laughing again. It was hilarious because my companion started randomly having a panic attack because he wasn´t understanding anything. ha. now he understands a little of how the first 6 months were for me.

But it is crazy to me how little the brasilian people understand when someone has an accent, I thought it was just me, but the Viñas family said no one understands them even though they are using better grammer and speaking more correctly than a normal person here. And they have native latin accents. So I got to translate portuguese to portuguese for my companion who used to think spanish and italian are the same language, but castilian so something totally different. He is also convinced that ``brasilian´´ is different than ``portuguese.´´ But that is cool.

I told him that a lot of latin peoples have racism that makes no sense to me, because for example, everyone here HATES bolivians and argentinans. Argentinans because of soccer, and bolivians because of immigration. So i told my companion if someone from argentina or bolivia or mexico spoke portuguese without an accent, he´d never be able to tell because they are all latin and look super similar. He refused to accept that, so in all of our lessons before he says anything I tell people he´s one of the three, and everyone believes me. ``oh my friend here is mexican´´ and they instantly hate him. Even funnier is sometimes the random hate is so strong that they refuse to understand him and tell him they don´t speak spanish. he is always like, ´`I AM FROM CEARÁ!!´´`and they are like ``shut up you bolivian.´´ it´s rediculous and hilarious all at the same time.

Also, our visit to the english speaking house of wonders sparked interest in him again to learn english, which is always super fun to teach. So today I just asked him what he wanted to learn and helped him say it and 10 minutes later he was saying, ``YOU IS A DIARRHEA!!!´´ Almost...? Good try...? I need to better my teaching skills, but at least no one else understands him.

But yeah that was it this week. Oh and I had a really interesting lesson about what is ignorance. Get ready to be all hippie-like, because this is deep. I was helping my best old friend Raimundo make his house with my companion and this other old dude from the ward, and they were having a blast the whole time. Loving everything. Commenting on the beauty of nature, how fun it is to work, singing hymns, talking about their favorite epic stories from the bible, etc. Then after work someone told me that their generation is just a bunch of ignorant people that don´t know a world exists full of computers and numbers and intelligence. That because their generation recieved next to no formal schooling that they are super deprived and don´t know what life is all about. And I asked the dude when the last time he was happy was, and he described the last time he got a whole bunch of money. It hit me in that moment who is truely ignorant. The educated dude didn´t even know what real happiness was. Samuel the Lamanite, after giving the people on the american continent a whole bunch of signs about the birth and death of Christ, told them that the whole point of all of those signs was to help people believe and know that the prophets had been telling the truth. But not like an empty belief that has nothing backing it up, a beleif based on a personal witness and a subsequent knowledge of Christ that is real. A knowledge that, as he described, would set someone free allowing them to act for themselves and choose real happiness or real sadness because they know exactly where to find these things. So whammy smart guy, you are ignorant of a lot more than those old and uneducated men who wake up at 5 in the morning to read the scriptures and follow the commandments with exactness. No one will ever experience happiness like they do or like I sometimes get to get a whiff of in any other place than Christ. That is the only knowledge that is necissary.

Have a good week and take a day to look at the world around you. Its beautiful. I love you all........


Jan 24, 2011


so it´s been a good 3 months here in the favela. It´s been hilarious. My life here is incredibly similar to an 80´s kung fu movie I watched one time that takes place in new york city. Everyone wearing hammer pants, a relatively self-sufficient economy that is built off of small personal markets and foreigners, and best of all, a lack of police. We had been hearing that police are stationed here, but we had never seen them, but the other day we found them hanging out in the back corner where there are no more houses and no confusion... well done police. Oh, and when the police do show up in kung fu movies they always do really theatricle stuff like spin their guns on their fingers, point uzi´s at people, and of course slap everyone in the face they talk to. That happens here too. The other day, some kids were on the side of the street and the police drove up and just slapped one of them in the face and then searched them all and then left. Confusing, but to me, funny.

One of the kids here I know went on his mission this week. That was pretty cool, except for the fact that he left thursday and his mom literally only stopped crying when she went to sleep between thursday and sunday. Then, probably because of exhaustion, she fainted in church. We ate lunch at her house friday and saturday (woo-hoo, free food) and her mind is full of all of these crazy ideas that the mission is hard and her child will be starving and blah blah blah. So to be sure that my mom is not being rediculous and doing the same thing, lets clear some things up about being a missionary here.

Being a missionary is like summer camp. You get to go do cool activities and stuff like that all the time, and you never worry about money. Everyone loves to feed you, and if you try, you can develope diabetes and get kidney stones and die from obesity all within the 2 years. People try to give you tons of stuff, ask you to take a nap on their couch, tell you they like you more than their own kids, and then cut your hair for free. Then on top of all of that cool stuff, they praise you for all the hard work you do and give you a ride in their car to your next appointment. Even the people that aren´t members of your church. Everyone loves you. And nothing bad ever happens to you. Ever.

So yeah, moral of the story is: crying over missionaries is retarded. They are all having way more fun than everyone else, and everyone should be a missionary because it is the life.

beyond that, all the kids here started calling me frankenstien. I thought that rachael would think that is funny. I am not really sure why they started though. One day they started calling my comp santa clause cause he is fat, and then they were like ``what is your nickname...?´´ Usually everyone is just like ``HEY, GERMAN. COME OVER HERE.´´ so I thought they would settle on german, but no, they chose frankenstien. and thus the name lives on...

Other than that it was a normal week. Taught some people the message of the restoration of the gospel, some accepted the message and the challenge to test and try our words with God, and we´ll pass by their house this week to either hear why they didn´t end up trying to even pray, or why reading the book of mormon and praying about it was the greatest thing that has ever happened to them. It is that easy. I find it interesting when some people will say stuff like ``HOLY COW, DO YOU KNOW WHAT THIS MEANS?!´´ and explain how our church is the only church that is literally guided by God, and their disbelief that more people don´t get why this is important.

One kid was like ``I prayed for God to show me an answer about the book and in that same moment something indescribable joyful and amazing happened in my heart and I knew it was true. Almost like I was getting filled up like a balloon, but in a really good way. So I went to tell my aunt what happened and she told me she wasn´t that interested in listening to you guys, and my mom and my family said the same thing. I just don´t get why they either don´t beleive me, or why they don´t think God is important.´´ And we just had to tell him that he needs to be patient with them and encourage them to try for themselves. But really my answer is I don´t get it either. It is a fact that anyone who seeks a response will find it, but sadly it is also a fact that the greater population of planet earth seem to be comfortable enough for now. They would rather search for happiness through something else that is temporary and then be confused when they feel that they lack something.

I think sometimes people don´t realize how real all of this stuff is. Why would I waste 2 years of my life telling you about a saviour of the world if his power wasn´t something you can percieve? I get so frustrated when people are satisfied thinking about Christ as some mythical and mysterious character that uses us like chess pieces and plays around with our lives. And I don´t understand how people can pass almost 100 years of their life here on earth being totally uncertain about why they are here and thinking that ``the purpose of life´´ is a profound question to which no one has the answer. It´s sad to me because everything is so simple and the knowledge of the truth can change so much about how good you feel and why you choose the decisions you choose.

So for those who still don´t know, here is a basic explanation of life.

We are here on the earth so that we can be happy forever, but because we are all retarded, we each lost the ability to be 100% happy on our own. One person came here and mended up all the holes we´ll ever make because of our own folly, and then rewrote the rules to be a million times more easy and simple to understand. His name is Jesus Christ, and he ACTUALLY exists. You can be 100% certain of this through divine communication (not meaning hocus pocus smoke and mirrors crap, but a real certainty) and a SUPER easy way to be certain is to go find a mormon missionary and try out what he asks you to do. It something you can do without commitment. If you recieve certainty, woohoo. If not, I am a liar. So go figure it out. I dare you.

I love everyone and specifically to mom, don´t ever cry because it is stupid. k... bye.

Jan 17, 2011


so this area has been interesting. I don´t want to be one to complain, but in this case I´ve had some interesting difficulties here. My last companion baptised 16 people here in 4 months, and after 2 months and change I haven´t found anybody that is quite ready to do what is right and make the necissary changes in their lives to be happy. And so because of that I have had the opportunity to grow quite a bit here. There have been a lot of times where when I have a second alone I am just pulling out my hair trying to know what I am doing wrong and I go ask for guidance and nothing specific comes and I just feel lost. I went for weeks, not having any idea what it was that I was doing wrong and just working my brains out trying to get the work going, but still not a whole lot going on. The people we were teaching always got to a certain point in their progress and then hit a wall. The words of my mission president came into my mind over and over again, ``if you aren´t doing something, the Lord will never let you convert your investigators more than you are converted. If you aren´t worthy, your investigators won´t be either´´ and it was just driving me crazy because I had no idea what I could do more.

then I found out this week that my comp has been lying to me and everyone else and isn´t exactly the model of worthiness. I can´t explain to you how mad immedeately I got. I have never wanted to yell at someone so much in my entire life, because immedeately it made so much sense to me that his betrayal and lies were destroying our work on a daily basis. Man I was mad. And so I was pacing and pacing in our apartment that morning, thinking about what I would do about this nonesense, getting madder and madder and more unreasonable and ready to brawl, when I realized that this wasn´t right. So I went and kneeled down and asked our Heavenly Father, ``what do you want me to do here?!´´ and he started the process of guiding me step by step through something that I know that I wasn´t capable of ever doing.

Holy cow it is something really hard to describe, but I didn´t lash out. with time I didn´t even feel that pissed off anymore. He took out all the blame and hate I was feeling (and there was a lot of it in there) and helped me forgive him. The next few days were so hard, because he not only continued to do what is making him unworthy and robbing us of success, but he was super critical of every little thing I did all day every day. And the whole time I would start to think, ``what do you know about what is right?! YOU ARE A HIPOCRITE´´ but I managed to just pray for help over and over and over again and try to help him work through this.

One day I was looking for help in the Ensign of last general conference and I read some things that President Monson said to the releif society. First he quoted Horace Mann when he said, ``to pity distress is but human, to releive it is Godlike.´´ and I realized that even if he continues to lie and be critical of me, I am certain that every single day is a living hell because he knows he is wrong. And rather than get pissed and ruin his life a little more to make myself feel better, I decided that I would try at least to some degree to apply this. So I started to say stuff like, ``whatever you need dude, I am here to help you´´ when I was feeling a desire to rip his arm off or something like that. And it worked. like I started to feel less and less hate for what he does and more and more sincere concern for his welfare. And then I saw the real life application of what President Monson said when he said, ``Life is perfect for none of us. Rather than being judgemental and critical of eachother, may we have the pure love of Christ for our fello travelers on this journey through life.´´

It is possible. Anyone who knows me knows that I am actually incapable of forgiving someone that purposefully and knowingly is doing something to harm me. There is no way. On my own I would probably resort to either a physical fight to teach them a lesson and make them feel bad, or with a lot more frequency, a verbal bombardment that will leave them feeling like absoloutly nothing. But I actually forgave him kind of. I really feel a sincere desire to help the kid rather than hurt him. That right there is a very real testimony of the renewing power provided through the sacrifice of our savior. He did everything for me that I wasn´t capable of doing alone just because I asked him. I am dead serious, the moment that I began to plead for the strength to forgive my comp, it came into my heart like a flood. I testify of the reality of this because I am living it as I write these words and my companion acts like a little kid next to me.

Turns out the responsibility to forgive extends even to those who don´t deserve it in our eyes. Something I didn´t even know.

but that is my story this week. I love you all. Have a good week and be happy.

Jan 10, 2011

So, this last week we ended up having no preparation day because of some organizational changes that were done to accomodate the craziness that was Christmas and New Years. But it ended up being pretty cool. Usually our P-day is just a huge hassel and we never get everything done, so having just a week to work right through the week without thinking about anything outside of our day to day activities was refreshing. We got way more done this week because we started too doing devisions with the adult members of our ward. Because most dudes in the church here are converts and their kids will go on missions but they don磘 get the chance, they get super excited if you bring them along, but even more excited if you split up and let them teach with you as a missionary. It led to a ton of really funny experiences. In one of the lessons I was like ``so, diego, explain to us how you recieved an answer about the Book of Mormon.创 and 20 minutes later he was still going and had explained everything in the gospel he had ever read, heard, and lots of stuff that doesn磘 box in with real doctrine. But I just let him have his moment because we were way ahead of schedule in our day, the investigator wasn磘 understanding anything he was saying anyways, and he was having a blast and smiling super big as he bore sincere testimony of everything he knows. And then after words I just nodded for a second, looked at the confused investigator, and said, ``moral of the story: you can pray to find out if this is true.创 and everyone ended up being happy and understanding each other. And after words we were walking to the next appointment and he was like, ``so elder, be sincere, how was I? Do I teach good?创 and I was just like, ``sure dude.创 and gave him a thumbs up when I was really thinking ``nope.创 and he got so happy. He is actually a kid that will go on a mission soon assuming he gets released from the army, and he was like ``ohhh mannn, I got soooo nervous... I am going to fast once a week for this next month and a half to get more prepared.创 It is always funny to see the huge lack of church experience, but the enormous desire that the people here have. I can say that I have seen here that God doesn磘 always call those who are qualified, but qualifies those whom he calls, because most leaders of the church here are examples of that.

In other news, the city government of S鉶 Paulo is trying to get rid of the favela in a number of ways, and considering that my ward here is the favela it磗 been cool to see what they are doing. For instance, they government will come to a street, condemn all of the houses on the street and give the people like $4,000 for their house when they need $10,000 for even a crappy house. So the members here are planning on unifying, buying up a whole bunch of land, and living in a complex of houses they磍l build or buy up with 3 families in a house. It is really their only option if they want to stay here, and they are all super amped to stick it to the man and succeed. More or less like what the old school saints did when they were moving to jackson county. Actually that is where they got the idea.

But it is incredible to me to see just how grateful some people here are. The younger generation that has internet and all that ``washing maching创 crap doesn磘 know how to do anything and they don磘 work and they are really ungrateful... but still way better than the entire american population. There are people here who will be sincerely grateful every day as long as they have their family and health. The clothes are falling of their backs and their house is full of mold and falling down and fills up with rain twice a week, but you go their and they are like ``man, I woke up early today and read the bible and watched the sun rise, and man, I just feel so grateful to have my family and my health创 and it just blows me away. Don磘 get me wrong, it is a increasingly small percent of the population, but that small percent is incredible to me. President Thomas S. Monson gave a talk in the last conference about gratefulness and it just reinforced that idea in my mind. I don磘 have the words with me right now, but he said something like ``to be grateful is gracious and honorable, the enact gratefulness is respectful and noble, but to live with a true spirit gratefulness in our hearts is to touch heaven创 and I am seeing here that this is true. The people that have so little, but are truely grateful for what they have and for the things that bring lasting happiness (family, ability, health, the knowledge of the restored gospel, etc.) are unconquerably happy. Stuff is hard for them, but they always find something that will make them smile.營 think it is kind of like what Henry B. Eyring said in his talk during the priesthood session of conference about george q. cannon. The guy lived a super tough life, but in his life he said that if we truely have the spirit with us, from morning till night and then from night until morning we磍l be happy, because the spirit isn磘 a spirit of sadness.

It磗 cool to be led not only by our heavenly father like all men on the earth can be led through personal prayer, but to be led too by men who truely hold the priesthood and recieve direction from Christ.

My life is super cool, and given that I read that talk today about gratitude I feel pretty grateful for it. Also given that I will forget about what I learned today in 2 days or less, it磗 cool that our Church is divinely led because I will always have the opportunity to not only pray for help, but learn from prophets who live in our days. I promise anyone that occasionaly reads my emails that it磗 true, and I dare you to prove it with the book of mormon.

Butttttt I need to go cut my hair. so latersss. I sincerely love you all a lot. have a good week

Jan 3, 2011

So, it´s 2011 and while thinking about what resoloutions I´d make I realized I already know exactly what I will do every single day this year... so... I´ll try to get fat or something. In the mean time though, another week has passed by. I read President Uchtdorf´s talk about pride in the priesthood session and it helped me just learn to accept my companions tendancy to correct me. It crazy, because he actually doesn´t bug me at all any more. That is seriously an enormous huge leap for mankind. You can forget about the moon. That´s is child´s play next to getting me to figure out how to accept correction (especially when it´s seemingly unnecissary and coming from someone who is under my leadership). But hey it happened so, woohoo for miracles.

Also I´ve been pretty bad at getting letters out over the past 7 or 8 weeks, and I know it sounds crazy, but I haven´t had any personal time yet. Actually I have had a little bit, but it has been consumed by service and buying drugs because I got sick and blah blah blah. There is always something to do, and I think I can count the hours of personal time that I have had in the last two months on one hand. But it´s amazing. It sounds stupid, but I can´t believe how much happier I feel. I can honestly say that I have never in my life felt happier than I do now. Before the mission, given that I was incredibly lazy and mildly rebelious, all of the joy that I felt always had another side to it. But here there is generally no bad feeling inside of me. At the most I feel slightly stressed by the fact that other people can make their own decisions sometimes, but on a personal level I have never felt the way I do now. It´s actually kind of hard to explain, but the whole ``go lose yourself in the work´´ thing that Gordon B. Hinckley´s dad wrote to him is 100% applicable to real life. Who´da guessed that one...? I love it when I learn things that everyone else already knew.

All I can say is that I finally think I understand the application of service in a normal day to day life, and surprisingly the goal is not to just help other people. I seems to me that almost all of the bad feelings of sadness or especially contention, anger, or hate that I have ever felt were generated by a deep rooted selfishness and pride that pretty much everyone has. But in order to get rid of that cause all you have to do is think less about yourself and more about other people and you are set. I just realized this the other day, but when I go to sleep and I am just smiling to myself super creepily because I have a general feeling of happiness that wasn´t generated from any one specific action during the day, but that I repeatedly saw people more or less like our Father in Heaven sees them. Some dude blew marajuana smoke right in my face as I walked by and instead of getting super mad and punching him in the face like I would generally want to, my first thought were ``how can I help him in his progression...?´´ Like what the heck? that isn´t me... at least it didn´t used to be me....? Meh, I am not really putting it into words super well, but service makes you feel better when it´s is sought after in the right way.

And in response to going on a cruize somewhere sunny in 2012, that would be cool, but do it here if that exists. I mean heck, at least that summer I´ll be better at portuguese than english and we should use that to our advantage. I can tell the people we aren´t the stupid kind of americans and make them sell us stuff at normal price. Plus you´d get to see the real Brazil. Just a suggestion...

But anyways, I am out of time. I love you all and I am still waiting for the christmas package. I will notify you when it gets here. Stay sweet