Tuesday, March 31, 2009


"HOLA? HOLA?" "...." "QUIEN ES?" ".....oh, there we go, my headset is plugged in now" "NO HABLO INGLES!" "Sorry- I mean, Lo siento..." "QUE QUIERE?" "uh.... Hola, puedo hablar con... Ricardo?" "Si, de parte?" "uh......(hey, Elder, what's de parte mean? oh, ok, thanks) Uh, the, I mean, la Iglesia de Jesu Christo de los...."

I hate calling people in Spanish. BUT I DID DO ONE COMPLETELY IN SPANISH, THE WHOLE CALL, AND GOT THE GUY TO SAY HE'D GO TO CHURCH WITH HIS MEMBER PARENTS IN GUADALAJARA WHILE HE'S ON VACATION! At least I think I did. I didn't really understand him even when he tried to speak English, and I think he was maybe just messing with me, and I think I that was actually last week, and I probably already told you about it, but whatever, I DID do a whole conversation in Spanish, once... BOOM!

Well, this has been a week. Good stuff, hard stuff. Challenges and good times. I decided the best way to deal with this all is to follow the advice given in our Mission Conference this Sunday: One lady said "LIGHTEN UP" and stop worrying about everything. The Lord's in charge, just smile and work! That, and laugh lots -- both key parts of this work, the work of our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. This is after all the plan for us, to have eternal happiness and joy with them and our families forever, right? Start teaching people through a smile and a happy attitude, with a testimony of the truth right behind.

TWO MORE WEEKS!!!!!! GAHHHH!! ES LOCO!! Am I ready? I GET MY FLIGHT PLANS THIS FRIDAY!!! Ok, actually, I just get my bus ticket. Everyone else gets their flight plans. Plus side, I can bring luggage that doesn't have size or weight restrictions. Which means all the stuff everyone else can't fit in their bags.... More people left this week from our zone – it’s crazy, we are the "oldest" district in our zone, our 8 people. And all the others above us are gone. Quite sad, we had a 26 year old, Elder Clemmence, who was the coolest shower singer EVER, he'd put on concerts every night while he showered, we could hear him all over the floor, very good singer belting out "WHEN THE MOON MEETS THE SKY, LIKE A BIG PIZZA PIE...." or practically any song imaginable. Gone. Sad. And many more friends. Off to Chile, Florida, California, Mexico...

Hmm, well, other news... oh man, ok, missionary work this week (ha, ok, its ALL missionary work, but) on Sunday, I decided I wanted to make a phone call in the Referral Center, apart from the ones I HAVE to do in Spanish. So I did some in English. And I got one guy, Herman, from Ohio. Sounded quite Evangelical, 68 years old. His wife is basically in a coma I think, and he spends all day taking care of her. So, he has time to spare, and DEFINITELY has time to talk about God. I spoke to him for about 30 minutes. He accepted a Book of Mormon from missionaries 4 years ago, but didn’t let them in because he was busy. He says he's read it some over the years and liked it. We had a good conversation where he went off talking about God and the world and such and "I lik' what you sayin', exactly!" when I talked about following God. I shared the Joseph Smith story because he was talking about people interpreting the Bible all different ways. He only interrupted me like two times to tell an unrelated story. But I told him to read 3 Nephi (which he looked up while I spoke) and I'm calling him back tomorrow to talk more. SWEET!

Also, they have a teaching situation called "Progressing Investigators" here. There are a lot of practice sessions we do teaching other missionaries or a teacher or something, but to make it more realistic for us, they bring in 8 “actors” (who are actually people who are converts to the church). They "live" in one of the buildings, and act like normal people out in the real world, who we can go contact and teach. They NEVER break role - if you pretend to hand them a Book of Mormon or something, they look at you like you are stupid. They act like the hallways are their neighborhood and go visit each other. Way cool. HARD. Our guy is "from Italy" and we're teaching him in Spanish. He likes to argue, and last time he taught us a 20 minute history lesson of the Catholic Church. We managed to get him to take a book of Mormon at the last minute, but dang, it was hard. Very cool though. More about him later, we’ll see if we can get him to try praying and realize that God loves him...

Alright, time's going down. Hmm, OH GENERAL CONFERENCE IS ALMOST HERE! I'm not sure I've ever appreciated it like I do now. We have a prophet on the earth, and the 12 Apostles, speaking to us this weekend. We can watch conference on the internet or via satellite at our church buildings or our homes all over the entire world, translated in every language. It’s incredible. I extend the same invitation that my Seminary teacher, Sister Greco, gave me once: pray, and come to conference with questions that we want answered, and they will be answered in some way. It’s a promise, and I know it’s been true for me. I challenge all of you to do it!

All right, I must be go. Thank you all for your letters and love. Thank you Grandma Pat for taking all my stuff to OGDEN! Alright, Love you all, and good week to all of you! -Elder Christopher Thelin

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


Halloo, out there... in the real world...

I must say, we are beginning to get a little tired of being here... the MTC is great, don't get me wrong, but we still are studying for like 14 hours a day... we're kinda at the point where we start laughing at a lot of things, and such, and simutaneously panic at how "not-native" we are at Spanish... but we're sticking together. It's weird seeing missionaries we know heading off. We've seen at least 3 districts of native speakers come in and out [the native Spanish speaking missionaries only stay at the MTC for 3 weeks]. It's kinda like a whole other missionary farewell kind of feeling, but it happens every week. This Elder to Korea, oh, you're off to Russia, Brazil, Florida, etc etc. Yikes.

Our English feast [I think he meant "fast"] is just about 100% of the time. Ok, yes, I'm kidding, but we are going to be awesome at it this week. We have figured out many wonderful things about Spanish, such as that all "v"s are pronounced as the English "b". A popular phrase one of our teachers says is "a ver" or "Let's see" which sounds like "a bear!". To which about everyone in our class shouts "WHERE?" or "DONDE?" or "RUN!" "Polar, or grizzly?" "Cual? A ver? a Verdad?" (Koal-a bear? a Bear-dad? Papa bear?) Hmm, maybe you just have to be here to understand... we have several bears one of the hermanas (Hermana Brodegard) drew that are taped up around the class to mock our teacher, cause he can't really speak without saying one of the "ver"s... yeah, ok, you just have to be here. Like I said, we need to get outta here...

But it's going pretty good. To our absolute terror, we are now in our 6th week, which means all of our phone calls at the Referral Center are entirely in Spanish. Yeah. Great idea.... So far this week I've misinterpreted the phrase "No hablo Eeenglish!" for "Oh, we can talk in English!", forgot my name (in both languages) and etc, etc. I DID do one ENTIRE call in Spanish though, so VERY satisfying. I hope the guy wasn't lying to me just to be nice, but he said he would have the missionaries come over in April, after he gets back from vacation in Guadalajara (spelling?) - while he's there he said his parents go to the LDS Church, and he'd go with em once or twice. I'm deciding to believe that.... in any case I talked about that in SPANISH, so I think the Lord will help something come of that success.... but YIKES, frightening.

Hm, I had a whole paper of cool stuff to write, and left it upstairs in my room. Phooey. Well, hm, lets see... Sunday was pretty good, we got to attend the Draper Temple Dedication service via satellite. It was actually surprising, seeing 2000 guys - I mean, Elders and Sisters - being that quiet for an hour beforehand and all throughout. The meeting was very good. Many talks about temples and their importance on the earth. Families can be together forever because of the Lord's power to unite them together after this life. Afterwards, as we walked out into the sunlight, I looked up, and the sun was lighting the clouds - you know, towards evening, late afternoon, when the whiter puffier clouds look like they are edged with gold? Hard to explain, but as I watched them while walking, I really felt that God lives, and that we came from, and are looking up and forwards to a brighter, lighter heavenly home, to dwell with our Father in Heaven someday.

(the Draper, Utah Temple)

Also that day, we walked up and around the Provo temple - beacuse we could, and, well, its a chance to see something else... at the time, Provo was having what I understand is like fog, but the clouds are dust... basically, brownish smog. Ugh. But we went up and walked around the temple, singing hymns in a quartet in Spanish (my companion is WAY into singing and music - EVERYWHERE). But while we were there, the sun burst through, and lit up the temple. The valley below and all around was in fog, but at the Lord's temple, it was lit by sunlight. It was like we had come out of the world and were on top of the world, surrounded by mountains, closer to God. Cool stuff.

Well, I have 4 minutes. hmm. I think all else I wanted to say was, THANK YOU for everyone's letters this week. They always seem to come exactly when I need them, with what I need. Baby Colton looks just like Mike, congrats Angela and Mike, he's awesome already. Heidi, THANK YOU for the family home evening letter! I haven't gotten to read it but I definitely will soon! I miss you all, and it's weird thinking you are all just living normal life, but I hope all is well for you! I know that our Heavenly Father lives. He loves us. He is aware of us, and wants to help us with all He has. Jesus Christ is our Savior. He always is there waiting for us to come, and He will heal us. This is His work and His glory.


Wednesday, March 18, 2009


Good day, all ye friends and family, on this fine Dia de San Patrick!

Feelin' green? THANKS for the St. Patty's package, with all the green candy and such - Thin Mints are amazing, mmmm... my little green hat was also a hit. (I didnt wear it for long, but it is truly amazing).

Well, what a week... Joey, you are right, the phenomenon holds true, Days are like weeks and the weeks are like days. So strange. We all feel like we were just writing emails yesterday... yet every day drags... WEIRD.

Missionary life is definitely unique. I'm again here in the laundry room, watching people as my like gazillion loads of white shirts get dry. In one corner, there are some elders stomping on top of dryers to Battle Hymn of the Republic while others rock out. In another corner, some Elders are trying to sing a 4-part cacophony- I mean harmony - to all the hymns in the hymnbook. My companion who has perfect pitch and can sing any note on command is trying to help out the tenor line... spirit that counts, right? A sign on the wall talking about how you can use half the soap for just as clean laundry has "graffiti" in every laungage that is taught here (like 150 different ones) scribbled on it. The graffiti says:

"It's a miracle!"
"Skdfjowe sldkf kdfj (probably means miracle).
Ah yes gotta love it.

We also are supposed to be speaking solo en espanol. Cough cough. Yes. Yes we are. Our "English-fast" is somewhat broken, over and over. You just really can't have conversations in Spanish about the deep significance of people gaining weight, fattening up on MTC food to feed the world like gospel ham. You CAN'T, i PROMISE. Spanish also makes all this teaching stuff harder. We are now teaching only in Spanish, even if the in between speech is a little Gringo still... we found out you can practice teaching people and the class can watch you from a one-way mirror room kinda deal. Way cool. While one group was "teaching" our teacher, Hermano Johnson, they mixed up two awesome scriptures. Mormon 8:3 doesn't quite say the same thing as Moroni 8:3, EVEN in Spanish.... but for the most part, we're learning pretty well. We've been doing something cool - practicing teaching other missionaries, but NOT using "scenarios" - not telling them to be pretend to be from a certain denomination, or have a problem with smoking or drinking - but to just be missionaries, and WE go and TEACH them as missionaries, to them FOR REAL, doing what we can to bring a fellow missionary closer to Christ. It's interesting. I'm finding I care a lot more about the people I'm teaching, because I'm actually helping a real person come unto Christ a little more. That's how every appointment in the field will be. Sweet!

Viva la Vida is a wonderful song. I miss it. Heard it while we were at Physical Therapy with my companion for his foot. I plugged ONE ear... but the other one may have gotten it stuck in my head... oops. Ahhh.

Kimmy: THANKS for the cookies, muy delicioso, galletas are awesome!
Family: SANDY'S SANDBOX????????? Fred and the other dude look pretty sweet, I laughed really hard at that blog...
Joey: you speak the truth. I take comfort in your district's lack of resolve to speak Spanish too. Hopefully we do better...

SO last week we had the most amazing devotional, like always. Way cool. Elder Hamula of the 70. Best speaker ever. He clearly showed us why this Gospel needs to be preached. I'm not sure I've ever understood like that night. Everyone in this world has two "deaths," so to speak, because of Adam and Eve. We all shall physically die, and we all spiritually die, or are separated from the presence of Heavenly Father for a time. Jesus Christ is our Savior - He overcame these deaths. Physical death is overcome for ALL, ALL are resurrected, the righteous and the wicked. We all receive an immortal body. EVERYONE overcomes this separation and returns to the Father--to be judged. The thing is, NOT everyone can STAY. This is so powerful. It is only those who have been cleansed through Jesus Christ, baptized by His authority, and made perfect through Him that come home to Father and can stay. All else must leave, forever. How awful that is to think about - and how important is our work - to prepare all men to be able to stay and live with our Heavenly Father and our family forever in joy! This is what I am doing. It's intimidating, but it's so exciting too.

On Sunday, our Devotional was about music. At the begininng we sang "We Are As the Army of Helaman" like we all used to at EFY and stuff. It was so cool, because as the words came up on the screen, the words were changed from "we will be the Lord's missionaries" to "we ARE NOW the Lord's missionaries." And it was cool, because we were 2000 strong, an army like Helaman's army of young righteous men in the cause of the Lord, now finally His missionaries, fulfilling the dream we sang about as kids. Way cool.

Yup. Good week. It's been rough. But I know that when we choose faith and move forward, God will be on our side. He lives. He is our Father. I challenge everyone to read Isaiah 54 in the Bible (or also, 3 Nephi:22 in the Book of Mormon, where Isaiah's words are read to the Nephite people of Ancient America). It's beautiful - these are the Savior's words to all of us. After it's all over, the Lord will gather us with everlasting mercies, and His kindness shall not depart from us. Beautiful. This is His work. Christ lives. He is our Savior, our Friend. I'm grateful to be here.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


Hola mi familia!
Como estan? No puedo hablar en ingles, es un regla de mi distrito. Este es semana cuatro, y tenemos un ayuno de ingles.

Hahaha, but it doesnt matter cause I'm TYPING this. Ok, so, this is finally the famed FOURTH WEEK: NO ENGLISH. Ok, so we've only done that about half the time so far, but the idea is, we begin our "fast from English" for the next 2 years starting yesterday. Intense. I really wish I could say more in Spanish, but I guess that's why we need to ditch the English... won't learn until we do! But man, annoying. It's crazy to think that the Lord has called me to TEACH in this language, it's going to take a lot of work and praying for the gift of tongues! I'm also convinced that whatever I learn here is going to be NOTHING like the Spanish I hear in the field. I had to make a call IN SPANISH at the Referral Center (hard enough when its in English!) and I managed to ask to speak to Maria so and so, and felt cool, when she said: "De parte?" "Que?" "De parte.....? De parte, de parte... lsdkfjowiejhfgosiehfgowejf de parte....?" "Uhhhh, un momentito..." take the headset off and chuck it to a native speaker in the room with a Heeeellllp.... Luckily our weekly goal of one call in spanish a week didnt specify a conversation or not, just the call... muy scary...

So, this week, hmm.. well, after the last email on Tuesday, we had our Weekly Tuesday Devotional, which was amazing. Elder Yoshihiko Kikuchi of the Quorum of the Seventy spoke(our church is organized like the church Christ set up anciently --see Luke 10:1) . Never heard of him before. And of course that means he is now like my favorite speaker. He talked a lot about some really cool things, which I don't have enough time to tell, but he really highlighted Christ. We should picture the Savior in all we do, watching over us, - because He IS always there! He is watching us, guiding us, leading us always, even when we don't always see or recognize it. Elder Kikuchi shared a ton; he told his conversion story - as a young boy in Japan, during WW2, his father was killed by a torpedo. He had to work for his family, still in middle school, and barely slept. He worked so hard he got very sick, and should have died. Though he was a Buddhist, in the hospital one night he prayed "Great Spirit, save my life and I will repay you." He lived. One week later, two American missionaries knocked. He hated them for what their country had done. He told them so. They began to share their message, and asked for 10 minutes with him. And look what happened: that boy grew up to be not only a member of the restored Church of Jesus Christ, but a leader in it even, guiding others to Christ. It was an extremely powerful evening, followed by an amazing district testimony meeting. Muy bien. Gotta love Tuesdays.

As for the rest of the week, hmm, ALSO that night, I was sitting there at dinner when the two Elders that get our mail walked to our table. "I almost puked when I saw it," said Elder Regehr. They both were hysterical. They started passing out mail. They looked at me. Then passed a few letters over to me... and passed a small one around the group. MY letter. There it went. Elder after Elder, either hysterical or slightly sickened. Then it got to me. It was innocently 5 by 3 inches or so, quite small, but it was no innocent letter. It was a letter from a set of Lisa Frank UNICORN stationary, with MY name written in GelPen on the outside. "ARENT THEY PRETTY??" was conveniently placed next to one of the hideous creatures. I opened it cautiously, with all looking on. I half expected glitter to pour out (DONT GET IDEAS) but instead, a page... big surprise, same stationary. "HOPE YOU GIVE AWAY LOTS OF BOOKS!" same gelpen, written in Kayla Smith's [Christopher's cousin] best preschooler handwriting. I had to explain to the entire district that yes, this is an intelligent albeit sadistic 19 year old girl going to Brigham Young University, and yes, I am related to her. They loved it. Really. I'm glad Elder Regehr didnt puke on ME. The infamous letter has been sent, received, and Kayla, you woulda been pleased, it probably matched the dreams you had for it exactly. Gunorknash.

OH I went to the Eye doc today - I thought I couldn't see well, had trouble seeing with my contacts the other day. After an hour, he told me that my perscription is pretty much right - but I have a stigmism as we know, and soft contacts cant help that, as well as soft contacts have a tendency to just be not as sharp. So, whee, false alarm, I DONT need new contacts, but I am getting the new perscription anyhow, just in case i need it. Fun, right?

THANKS for the package! Good stuff there! Loved it!

Alright, I hope everyone is having a good week! The Church is true! This work is the Lord's. Annnnnnd I'm signing off!
Love you all!
-Elder Christopher Thelin

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


Week 3.

Once again, I find myself sitting at a computer in the laundry room, detergent powder spilled on my hands and shirt, nice and toasty from all the dryers by me, and heart already pounding as I read 27:03 minutes left....
It's intense!

Alright, so, once again, THANKS to everyone who is sending me mail, its really awesome getting letters. My district has begun to assign points for the one who daily gets most mail - 1 point for a dear elder letter, like 2 for a snail mail, and 5 for a package. I've won every time, and they are jealous. Thanks everyone!

Well, it's starting to feel like a routine now - getting up at 6:30, falling out of bed, studying our tails off, etc. It's a good thing - just wish I'd learned how to work harder while I was at BYU and in school and stuff... but, no Facebook here, so work shall prevail!

Let's see, what happened this week? Well, the Advanced district that came in with us is leaving today - weird, if I had been on an English speaking mission, I'd be gone now! Kinda glad to have the extra time to learn how to teach - its fun, but a difficult skill to learn. Me and Elder Rindfleisch are working hard, and teaching often to try and figure it out. Lots of good experiences with that. Consistently, people tell us our unity is really really good. We pick up where the other one left off, cover things, testify of each other's words... last week we had several good teaching situations. My companion was feeling down on Wednesday, and we had an appointment practicing knocking doors with our teacher. I was worried it wouldnt be good because he was feeling so low, but, when we got there, it all changed. We simulate what it will be like to knock on doors out in the real world: Knock on the guy's door, he shouts for us to go away. Knock again, he's a different guy, but will only open the door 5 inches, and only speaks in Spanish. Stuff like that - well, somehow, doing this a bunch, and teaching someone who was being quite realistic - it completely flipped his mood around, and my companion was way excited and charged.

Same thing happend to me on Friday - we train all week for a teaching situation where we teach volunteers who act like people who want to know more about the church. I wasn't feeling optimistic, feeling a little lost - but when we got there, it changed. We were supposed to knock on a door and talk to a lady in spanish for 7 minutes - we did, and found ourselves facing a little old lady who was a native spanish speaker, which was a tad scary. Against the prompts, she invited us in to her "home" and began to talk to us, in some language that only seemed to be spanish, and certainly wasn't any spanish I could understand. After mentioning Christ, she launched into some questions about, as far as we could figure out, "caballos, gainas, burros" and "nacido" (horses, chickens, donkeys - birth) - so, something about the Nativity? She wouldnt let it go, and called in our teacher, who excused us while he tried to sort it out. A volunteer run amuck. It was rather entertaining. I can see this happening a lot in the future, only no one to save us...

Then we went and taught the lesson of the Restoration of the Gospel to a "young couple"(volunteers again). It was really cool. We were about to start the lesson with point one, but they began asking questions about prophets, and other things, and we began to answer their questions instead of just rattling off a lesson. It felt like we were teaching PEOPLE not teaching a LESSON, and it was awesome. Somehow we followed the Spirit, and taught them better than we ever had before. We were on a high of spiritual excitement for like an hour after.

So, yes, teaching is what its all about here. It happens in class, in teaching appointments, over the phone at the Referral Center, and all the "street contacting" us missionaries do to each other randomly as we run around... good stuff.

Hmm, well, lets see - OH, I go sheared. Yup, sheared. I evaded it until yesterday - one of the counselors walked into our class to make an announcment, and when he left he said "I'm not pointing fingers, but there are haircuts needed here." Guilty as charged... so I went to go get one. 15 minute slot. I sit down. Young lady, probably going to BYU. Probably not for Hair Care...
"Long or short?"
"Uhh... well shorter... no, LONG."
"Shorter than the top....?"
Bzzzzzzz.... put the razor on the side of the head, run it all around in the back and sides - it was impressive. I've never seen so much hair fall off of someone so quickly - I think my sides and back were done in less than 15 seconds. (dont worry, she trimmed it up nice). Then she used the same thing on the top, but with a comb to maintain some length... it was frightening. But, it actually looks good, not mega short or anything, just, SHORTer. SCARY. But alright. I'm gonna put off the next one as long as I can....

Well, its good here, as I've said. Learning much all the time. The apostle Elder Ballard told us a few weeks ago that if we have a positive attitude and internalize the priniciples of Chapter 3 (the missionary lessons) of Preach My Gospel, we would be able to carry through anything life hands us. I know this is true. I encourage everyone to read this chapter, not so much read it, but evaluate - do you have a testimony of all these things? Solidify it. Love it. Study it. It is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, plain and simple.

Alright, 1 minute again. Real quick, I wish I could write to everyone, but I just can't. Mom, I did send a package, with pictures and letters to the sibs - look for it. I'll send the check separate, I forgot it. OK, LOVE YOU ALL!!!
-Elder Chris

Our district's building, where we spend every day studying, taking spanish lessons, holding meetings, teaching each other, planning, etc.

They put these signs up on the way from the MTC to the temple, because family and friends always write messages in chalk to missionaries...