Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Well, this is all just a little crazy. I'm exhausted all the time, my feet hurt (even after the extra springy soft insoles I bought for my shoes - we have the largest walking area in the Ogden Mission), I can't understand people, and I may die of the effects of black beans. But IT'S FUN!

Alrighty, well, to clear up your questions down there: regular mail goes to the mission office then forwarded to me (not sure if it can just go straight to me, since our address can change every few weeks...) I have about an hour to email home on P-days, but I don't have a time limit - Elder Gurrola only uses like 15 minutes though, so I feel bad taking a ton of time, but yeah. Oh, also technical stuffs: I only needed one of the buckets in the mission office, and they were wondering if Grandma Pat could (please) pick the other up some time. That would be wonderful! And thanks for the hidden Easter goodies, Grandma!

OK WELL It's been a long week. And short. Weird. Basically I'm learning that Ogden is a pretty different kind of place. It's the oddball of the entire mission. Like, ghettos and stuff, which is awesome, but besides that there are interesting people everywhere. It's awesome. A lot of people have denounced this area as weak and hard to work in. Fortunately, Elder Gurrola is full of this enthusiasm for the branch that will help change this concept. Its cool, the English Elders usually have areas that cover 12 stakes [groups of 6-8 congregations] at a time, and spend all their time running between meeting with bishops and stake presidents - but in the Spanish program we get a hands on experience, assigned to our own branch, and get to know the members really well, which I'm way thankful for. We're trying to psych up the branch with all we do, and a lot of our planning right now is to help raise the spiritual level of the members to prepare them to want to do missionary work, believe it is possible, and not just help out of duty. We go visit members a lot and sing them a hymn, or help out, or algo asi ("something like that"). It's very interesting seeing the Church function from this perspective, and seeing that our responisbility is not just to nonmembers - if we really want to serve other people, we don't envision them in the baptismal font - we look beyond that to being eternal families. The members are the ones who have the responsibility to help nourish those we baptize and bring them to the temple and on - so if we want to really make sure these people come unto Christ, we help build up the people who will be their family in the church. Maybe that helps change perspectives on new converts for some - be their friends, for life.

Our baptism last week went really well. 10 year old Jose Lopez is now a member of the Church. It was cool - a guy the other missionaries are teaching came by to watch and he felt really good about it. We joked around and said it was his turn next and he seriously was considering it. We've got plans for another baptism on the 10th - Edson Torres, who is in a part- member family. We've had some pretty sweet lessons with him, and he's starting to really open up to us. We're hoping to baptize his friend who sat in, as well as some half-brothers that sat in last night.

We have a board in our house with our strategy lined up for the next month. We're determined to make a difference here. We had a long talk about that last night. Gangs are winning here in Ogden. Teenagers are making wrong choices in bad ways. Two 18 year old boys here who were about to go on missions were just killed in a car crash because of some other teens losing control in a high speed car chase from the police. People are losing jobs, etc. But the thing is, we can make a difference. We're working with the Branch Mission Leader, Brother Ramos (a retired FBI agent, funny guy) and we're trying to make the Church the solution to saving Ogden, one person at a time. And its cool, beacuse the Gospel can do that. Jesus Christ is the solution. Through Him, we can change, have joy, and lift this place to a higher level. This is what its about.

One crazy thing this week, we went to a door and knocked and the person said that they were a little busy. We asked if they went to a church, and they said they were having a service at their house in a few minutes. Then they invited us in... so we went. Down into the basement. And there was a small gathering of people in chairs, a podium, and a large stereo, with some soft , repetitive song that was saying something about Jesus over and over and over and over... and like 5 people repeating the words with veils on their heads . The lady who let us in sat us down, whipped on her veil, and started praying too in a loud voice. And we're just sitting there dumbfounded, looking at each other, wondering WHAT IN THE WORLD was going on, and what we should do. After like 5 minutes we tapped the lady and were like, uh, we're just going to let ourselves out now... it was quite different. Only in Ogden...

Well, there's so much going on, I'm not sure what to say. Jeff, the Sauna Suit looks incredible. Holy cow, thats awesome. It wouldn't surprise me if people here in Ogden wear them.

HAPPY BERFDAY STEVEN! Congrats on becoming a manyan. Disneyland looked fun - thanks Aunt Jill for the printouts of those blogs!

I haven't gotten your letter yet mom, but I'll keep looking. I'm sending a package to you guys soon - I'll send my camera card too, so you guys can have some new pictures.

I hope Gaby is doing better, and I hope Grandma gets better too. I'll be praying for her. Grandma, I love you, and am thinking of you - of all of you! The Lord is in charge. He has reasons for everything. I'm seeing that we don't understand everything and won't here in this life, but if we stay strong through it all, the outcome is sure. Trust in Him, and His power to heal and sustain. I wish I could be back there to help, but I've received so many promises that the Lord will take care of all my loved ones far more than I could if I were there.

Alright, I gots to go. Kayla and Kimmy, thanks for the letters! I'll try to write, but its hard to find any time here, even on Pdays. I loved hearing from both of you, and hope the semester ends well!

Alright, I love you all, sorry I didn't write a lot of details. We have plans and a vision for this area. I am working on becoming effective here - it's hard. But I know we can make a difference - a permanent eternal difference. This Church is true. It is not a cult. It is not a lie. Some people say that, but they don't understand. God is our Father. We are His precious children. Jesus Christ is the Savior of us all, our Friend, our Brother. Trust Him, no matter what. Even if everything around us screams not to. Trust Him. This is His work. And I get to help!

Well, until next time,
Love, Elder Christopher Thelin

P.S. I'll have details about THE PHONECALL next time - looks like 30-40 minutes on Mother's day.....!

P.P.S. Behold a Royal Army - good hymn!

We decided to heat our freezing apartment like dad did on his mission... it kinda works...

Jose Lopez, his mom, Maria Meza, and his brothers and sisters

Jose Lopez, 10 years old, with Elder Gurrola, Myself, and Martin Dominguez
April 27, 2009

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Hey! Spoke some Spanish. Baptisms and stuff. Hot in Utah. Ow my foot. Crazy companion. K, gotta go cause Ogden is in the midst of sin, gotta go save em. Talk later, bye!

Haha, just kidding. Wow, so how in the heck did I have a page to write about every week at the MTC? I wasn't doing ANYTHING there, just sitting in a room for 37 hours a day studying (which I think I should have done more of...) As for the field... well, let's start at the beginning.

OK, so last Tuesday, I stood in the rain, watched all my friends go away which was WEIRD because I spent all my time with them for 9 weeks, and then boarded the magic bus to OGDEN! Possibly the most liberating feeling ever was sitting on that bus, watching the MTC magically go away... too bad the driver forgot his lunch and turned around at the 2nd entrance and we were back at the MTC for another 15 minutes (which really ruined my awesome happy background-music-to-my-life that I was humming to fit the moment...) But yeah, I was the only Spanish Elder on the bus out of 14 other English missionaries, except one guy whose visa got delayed and is here for a few weeks. I called the bus a plane the whole time. We all were kinda acting like it was a plane. But me most of all, because it REALLY felt good to see new things and places and Walmarts and cars and PEOPLE because I had been in the MTC for 9 weeks. Did I mention that wasn't my favorite thing in the world?

K, anyhow, Ogden, get there, meet Pres. and Sister Joyce, cool people, way nice, sweet British accents... and I guess you guys got an update about us, but yes, the AP's took us out tracting for an hour in the pouring freezing rain/snow. I went with one guy who knew some portuguese but could do Spanish alright. We went to a sweet little ghetto place and knocked every door, got 4 appointments... way sweet. IN SPANISH. Terrifying. Anyways, so yes, that was our 1st day - then took us to the Mission Home and we chilled at the President's house, had a nice American-ish meal and breakfast... then went to go meet my new companion... who is Elder Gurrola (yes, I can't even say his name). Elder Gurrola... is insane. He's talking about baptizing alligators right now... but yeah, he's way cool, everyone, including the President said he was basically the best trainer possible. This guy is way full of optimism for the area - which is RIVERDALE, which is a little suburb to the south of Ogden and then half the city of Ogden itself. I got my wish. I get to serve IN OGDEN at the start. And it is everything everyone has said about it. It is DIFFERENT. Picture Utah. Picture happy Mormons walking about doing good, baking bread for neighbors, etc. Now picture that gone wrong, and you got Ogden. Spiritual Babylon of Utah indeed. I love it.

It's a pretty poor area. I'm teaching all sorts of people in very run down places, people I NEVER would have gotten to even know existed before. It's pretty cool. I can't understand most of them, but I'm getting better. I can understand most of what people say, but I'm having trouble talking back. But yeah, Elder Gurrola is doing most of the talking, and I back him up, a little more every day. I tried a couple on my own... two ladies walking in the rain, didn't want to stop so I basically chased them and had a "discussion" for 3 blocks... it was pretty awesome. Making contact is scary... yikes... I'm learning a bunch of names of places from Mexico - we're pretty sure there is nobody living in Michucan (sp?) Mexico, because the entire city has moved to Utah...

Food's good - we have a member dinner EVERY night, usually huge. ALWAYS mexican. NOT like Pancho Villa's or Don Pablo's. I'm pretty sure they use REAL peppers and hot sauce on EVERYTHING. Never had so many beans... Man, one house we stopped by was making COW LIPS for dinner. We're eating there for dinner on Sunday. Hahaha. Hijole.

Speaking of meat, ok, so we whitewashed the area, which means both me and Elder Gurrola just transferred in, and don't know what's going on. Plus side is this was his first area, so he knows the area, the members, the old investigators. Bad side, the previous missionaries didn't do everthing right - so its kinda a mess. So the last week we've been trying to just build up the member support, visiting homes, talking, being friends, and just trying to catch everyone on fire with enthusiasm in an area that most consider hard. Elder Gurrola never shows any doubt that we will baptize like 100 people, so its awesome. One member had an interesting way of helping us find people to teach...

So yesterday morning, we got up. Did personal study. Got on a bus. Actually, missed the bus. Free ride from a member (I've been given free rides, we always get honked at, was randomly given 15 bucks, and free meals and tons of free bread at a shop, etc. Utah has its perks. We missionaries are kinda like mascots here...) free ride to Ogden, dropped off at 21st. Look at my companion. Carneceria Aleman. We open the doors. Brother McDonald, a white guy (weird), greets us. Throws us 2 white coats. And by white I mean covered in blood. Oh, and hairnets and gloves. Takes us to a small back room. Very cold. Flickery lights. Shouts over the Mexican radio thats blasting that he has two amigos that need to do some service, so he's hiring them for a few hours. Steered me over to stand and work with Jose. Handed me a knife. Threw a slab of meat down on the table. Explained carefully - in Spanish mind you - not to cut my fingers off, carve off all the fat, and put it in the slicer... oooooooh yeah. We stood there chopping meat in a Mexican Carneceria (butcher's shop, basically) striking up conversation with a bunch of mexicans for a few hours, all to find new people to teach the Lord's gospel to and bless their lives. Got one referral out of it... definitely put a new meaning on "I'll go where you want me to go dear Lord..." We're going back next week. I may not be in a jungle, but really, I'm doing things I never expected to do in my life...

Anyways, I better wrap this up. Well, I'm having tons of good experiences, it's way cool going to doors and asking if we can sing a hymn, choosing one and then finding out that this person used to go to church, and they sang that very song in choir, and haven't remembered that experience in 20 years...or walking up and picking a scripture in your mind for someone, and then watching as your companion pulls out the very same one to read to them. It's just cool! I'm seeing in ways I never understood that we have something so precious that other people just don't understand. They don't know what Jesus has done and made possible, even though they've said they believed in Him all their lives. They need the truth. They need the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And it is on the earth. His plan is for all. Not just English speakers. Not the rich. Not just the educated. It is for all. It's awesome. And as I testify in doorways that I have been answered by God, and have a witness that this is true, I feel the Spirit again. It is true. People need this.

We have a baptism on Wednesday, and another one on the 10th of May. We're hoping for tons more. Hopefully I'll be able to speak Spanish more by next week, but until then, I'll just keep sounding like a kid who is 19 and still learning to talk... I love you all, and wish you the best! All letters go to Mission office. Oh, could you maybe post that if any addresses are changing as semesters end, send em? THANKS!

ELDER CHRISTOPHER TAY-LEAN (Thelin isn't pronouncible in Spanish...)

Saturday, April 18, 2009


[written by Christopher's mom and sisters since we didn't get any letters from him AT ALL this week!]

The wheels on the bus go
Round and round, round and round, round and round
The wheels on the bus go round and round
From the MTC.

The missionaries on the bus say
"Teach and Preach! Teach and Preach! Teach and Preach!"
The missionaries on the bus say "Teach and Preach!"
All the way to Ogden!

The mission president says
"The bus is late! You can't call home! Your letters must wait!"
The mission president says
"The bus is late! "
At the mission office!

The mommies at home say
"Wah Wah Wah!" "Wah Wah Wah!" "Wah Wah Wah!"
The mommies at home say
"Wah Wah Wah!"
All through the town.

Yes. So. This is apparently the sad tale of Christopher's big bus trip from the MTC to Ogden, Utah. The missionaries that were heading out to far off places like Madagascar or Siberia using complex modes of transportation like planes or boats or sled dogs got to call their mothers and probably write home too. But, somehow, and I am not sure how this is even possible, the BUS from Provo to Ogden was delayed to the extent that there was not time to allow phonecalls or emails. I am trying to get over it.

Anyway, we finally caved in and just called the mission office in Ogden today, which is what I should have done on Wednesday when I had just started freaking out instead of waiting until now. However, the bottom line is that Chris is fine, alive, and well in central Ogden, Utah. He is serving in a Spanish speaking area (duh) and is busy already. We talked to the mission president's assistant, a nice elder who actually KNEW WHO CHRIS WAS and had gone WITH CHRIS to teach some real live people who were interested in the church! The cool thing is that this elder is serving an English speaking mission but went out with Chris to Spanish speaking families, so Chris had to teach the lessons in Spanish all by himself on his first day! I am sure that he was expecting to be able to rely on a seasoned Spanish speaking companion to teach the lessons for awhile. Oh well! Nothing like learning on your feet! The elder said that Chris did an awesome job. Of course, that part is not surprising.

Chris should be able to communicate with us on Tuesdays again, which is his "preparation day"--a day commonly known to missionaries as "P-day"--a time to write letters, do laundry, errands, etc. to prepare for the week ahead. Please continue to write to him at the address posted on the side bar on the blog until we hear otherwise. The dearElder.com letters will also still work, although they work basically the same as regular mail now since he is not at the MTC anymore!

I will post a letter as soon as we get one!!! Thanks for all your support!

The Mom of Elder Chris

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


Wow, OK, I feel like I was born here. Born in a suit, with a nametag, and maybe I was a little slow at learning how to speak Spanish. English is baby talk, and therefore no good, so I'm trying to learn Spanish, and yeah... we all kinda feel we have been placed here, and had "withheld the recollection of our former friends and birth, yet ofttimes a secret something whispers”.... shouts... "You're a stranger here" and we feel that we've wandered from a quite different and wordly sphere..." Yup. That stroke of genius came to me around midnight last night. Had to go grab a hymn book and write it down...

WELL I'm in the final stretch. It’s crazy. I feel ready to get out, and the language and such don't agree, but it's time. I can't be perfectly prepared. I think at least this week I want to speak only espanol, sheesh. I HAVE made progress though, I did half of the weekend in pure spanish, felt good. Didn’t say much, but yeah... I have also had some success in the Referral Center - some guy called in and tried to say "Anyone there a-speak a-spanish?" and I was like, "Hold on, I'll go get... wait, yeah, I do..." and helped him find his way to a Church building in New York City. I was proud... my guy Herman that I am calling (in English) apparently didn’t read 3 Nephi 11, but read 18 CHAPTERS of 1ST Nephi! Cool guy, I'm not sure I'm getting anywhere with him, but he likes chatting, and such. Good practice... and our “fake” investigator guy, Alessandro the Italiano actually read some of the Book of Mormon we got him to take finally... it was cool, he was trying to lead us off topic, with many questions, a discussion of Alexander Hamilton, and a diagram-based lesson of Italy's geography (in SPANISH mind you). BUT we managed to talk about things that mattered ... I keep forgetting this guy is just acting in order to help us prepare for "real" people... next week though... yikes!

Well, hmm, ok. Let's see... CONFERENCE was awesome [twice a year our church has a worldwide conference where we hear church leaders speak]! I'm not sure I've ever been as involved with Conference, preparing, taking notes, listening for things...it’s a different perspective as a missionary. One Hermana in our District had a guy - an ex-convict that shes been talking to about God and the Gosepl for a month - watch the conference - he loved it. It was cool watching conference wondering what people are getting and feeling as they watch it for the first time. It's awesome. The talks were amazing this time, well, as always. You're right mom, Elder Pearson's talk was perfect. It said a lot of things I needed and was feeling. A lot of them did, in little ways. It does seem like the world is going to get scarier and harder, but I loved how the overarching message was "Fear not, have faith" God will not forsake. Also this may be hard, but we can make it. Fear not. Fear is a tool of the adversary - as Pearson said, doubt is a form of fear. Fear is what I've dealt with the past week - fear that I haven't used my time effectively, that I won't be able to do this because I've not had perfect faith and such, fear that maybe my testimony and faith aren't strong enough to be gung-ho and strong every day, on my mission and eternity. Sometimes that's hard. But I like how the theme was "don't fear". We don't need to. Elder Holland beautifully described that the Savior did it all for us, and we never have to be alone, because He was alone for us. I also like this quote that I found on a talk by James E Faust called Do not Fear, taken from The Secret Garden: (um, can't get to it here, you should find it, its good...) But yeah, conference was really good. We need to remember Elder Uchtdorf's counsel and always say to adversity and distraction, "I'm do0ing a great work, and I cannot come down!" (Priesthood Session). All in all, I'm feeling pretty good, and even a little excited finally to go out and serve. Sometimes its still a little intimidating and I get distracted by that, but I found myself last night thinking of it as an adventure, and got excited. It is an adventure. My brothers and sisters need the Gospel! And I'm gonna ride that bus to go tell em, yup!

OH I saw the Mautzes today! They are here and getting ready! It was really cool to see familiar faces for a change, helped me remember there is a real world out there where you don't sing hymns 24/7 ... Oh, and I still don't have bus information, its lame. I'm gonna complain and find out what time I leave sooner or later... I know its wednesday. tHe elders flying out get to call home from the airport... wonder if I get to from the bus station? I'll find out.........

Well, I'm pretty sure I can write again on next Tuesday, so one more before I hit the field. Thank you for all the letters and advice and the help. This is a big deal. But I think the key as always is relax and have fun, an ADVENTURE! I hope all is well at home, with everybody! Good luck with all the craziness and Beauty and the Beast and and and... Take care everyone, I'm always thinking about EVERYONE (ok, I can't always, but you know...) Love you all, have a good week! -Elder Christopher the Ready to LEAVE
Hermana Catherine Brodegard - Minnesota Minneapolis Mission; Hermana Johnson - Washington DC South Mission; Elder Marlow (back) - Guadalajara Mexico South Mission; Elder Turner - Tampico Mexico Mission; Elder Nelson (in front) - Torreon Mexico Mission; Myself - Utah Ogden Mission; Elder Rindfleish - Houston East Mission; Elder Regher - Tiajuana Mexico Mission

The District with one of our teachers, Brother Johnson

The District with Branch President Weiderhold and Brother Sanchez (from Panama!)

My other MTC teacher, Brother Haight