Sunday, May 31, 2009


[this is a letter Chris sent to his Grandma and Grandpa that has some great messages in it!]

Dear Grandma and Grandpa,
Hello! How're you doing? Is is still spring-ish in Virginia, or have we hit summer yet? It's kinda hard to tell here--it's just I am looking at a snow-capped mountain...

Well, I thought I'd write someletters since it's P-day and I have a little free time for once. It was great talking to you both on the 10th--but 40 minutes really isn't enough. Next time maybe I'll learn how to say everything I wanted to say to everybody.

I'm doing pretty well here in Riverdale/Ogden, Utah. Trying to get used to this foreign country here. It's kind of strange--I'm surrounded by people that look like me, but I have very little interaction with that culture; I'm living in a world-within-a-world, for the most part. Searching out and talking with people born in Mexico, Columbia, Nicaragua, Chile, you name it. It's interesting. It's a different culture. And yet, they are still people, just like us. Different strengths, different faults. But people, children of God.

I hope things are well at home. I certainly do miss being home sometimes. I realize how important family is a little more, and wish I had taken advantage of being with both of you and my family more while I was close. That's one thing I'm learning--people are the most important part of our lives. There are many good things--but if we're not spending time with the people in our lives, something isn't quite right. I'm seeing a lot of families who believe life is about working--working every day--to buy a house, pay rent, feed their famly--but they spend so much time doing that, that they never really enjoy the family, never see past the work. I think taking two years of only focusing on other people and strengthening relationships with them and God will help me to see how to live my life right.

Well, I probably said this before, but thank you so much for all you've done, especially having the courage and spiritual strength to join this church. Grandma, I know wy you told that story every year. It hugely impacted me. I've never doubted that you knew this was all true. As I am sitting in people's homes, I try to imagine them sometimes as your family so long ago, and then imagine them 40 years down the road, happy with a few new generations full of children blessed because of their decisions. It helps me to remember that it's worth interrupting their nap, or stopping them on the way to another day of work, worth stopping them to share the news about how their family can be blessed like mine has been. Thank you.

Well, Grandma and Grandpa, I love you a ton, and am always impressed with your faith in the Lord. He's in charge of this whole production, and He's always ready to support us.

Till next time, love,
Elder Grandson Chris Thelin

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Heylo! Que dice? Como estan? Blahblahblahblah...

Reeeeeeeally wish I could just learn Spanish in a day... it’s so fun having been here 6 weeks now and still sometimes not understand when people ask where I'm from...

Well, right you are, this is transfer week. And right you are, Dad, I'm staying in Riverdale with Elder Gurrola... kinda. We had two areas covering the Buenaventura branch, with 5 missionaries. Things got reorganized a little. They yanked out one area and made it so we cover it all, and can get to know and strengthen everyone more... but we DID inherit Elder Rodriguez, who still hasn't gone to Guadalajara Mexico because his visa is still delayed. SO I'm in a threesome companionship for a transfer. Weird - my father (missionary lingo, haha), Elder Gurolla, will be training 2 sons now, so I just inherited a step-brother. Heh. Oh yeah.

SO it's been a crazy week. A good week. Lots of cool stuff happening. The Lord is blessing us. Last week I decided I wanted to give more of my all. I started the week off trying harder to speak Spanish - only Spanish. Trying to talk even if I was unsure or hesitant. Trying to be more exactly obedient. And the Lord has poured out blessings. We have been trying to stop by this one lady's house who lives on our street for about the whole transfer. She is Pati Torres, the mother of Edson Torres, who just was baptized. And a miracle happened so we could teach her! For once, she was home. Miracle. We went in. She randomly showed up to church on Sunday to see her son confirmed. She remembered all the lessons - she took NOTES! We taught. It was the best I'd ever taught. Clearly. With the Spirit guiding. She understood really well. At a certain point in my lesson, Elder Gurrola gave her a little card with a picture depicting Joseph Smith’s first vision She looked at it for 30 seconds, then looked up and said quietly but firmly, "Yo se." ("I know.") It was crazy awesome. So spiritual. She accepted a baptismal date then and there. VERY cool. Her son will be receiving the Priesthood, so he will be able to baptize her! Schweet!

OK ONE MORE MIRACLE - On Friday night we were walking home. Suddenly Elder Gurolla said hey lets go talk to this guy we're teaching before curfew. So we went. Halfway there he stopped dead, and said, no, let's just go home. So we did. And if we hadn't have stopped right then and turned around, we wouldn't have passed Zach at the exact moment he walked onto the street. "Hey! Are you Mormon missionaries?"he said to us. We walked over - 17 year old kid, just walking home. "Hey, uh, this is really weird... I mean really weird - I've had a question on my mind about what you believe about what happens after death, and like 30 seconds ago a random thought popped in my head about what it would be like to meet God after this life and what I'd feel like, and, well, then I saw you guys.... got a minute?" Yeah, heck, we had a minute... for the next 40 minutes he talked about being on drugs since the time he was 2 years old basically, and a horrible life, but how he knew God lived, and wanted to change, and was trying with all his might to be clean and pure and how he wanted to grow up, leave his past, go to college, have a good family... it was way cool.

So yeah, good week. Ok, my time is somewhat limited. haha, Mom, nice job mingling with the Hispanics in line at the post office. Next time try to communicate, hah... "Hey, como estan? Todo bien? De donde es usted, Michuacan?" Thanks for sending the package, maybe I'll get it today... sounds like the family is doing well, loosing teeth, piano recitals (there are kids in utah that speak spanish though that have asked me to teach them piano... maybe the girls could come out here... and play for all the baptisms and such so I don't have to...) And sounds like Jeff is doing well, keep up the good work and make them movies, do what’s right. I talk to a lot of kids in 10th grade, and there are a lot of messed up kids, in gangs, beating and such just to get money, just for fun... the Church is true, and we need to be the light to the world, help them see the eternal perspective - I haven't watched TV, thought about movies or normal music in about 4 months, and I really am seeing how much that is insignificant in the big scheme. Don't be distracted by the little things - follow the Spirit, seek the truth, learn who your Father in Heaven is. That is what it’s all about here on this earth. DO IT, EVERYONE.

Ok, story for the girls, cont’d:
[Here’s what the girls added: Heading south, Heidi, Holly and Amy came to a beach and a large body of water. Amy pressed the secret button in the van and POOF! This inflator raft thing, you know, came out and made the van float. Then a great white shark came up and bit it and the van started sinking. But then luckily, Holly was chewing some gum and they stuck that in the hole until (as Amy added) they could find a dolphin with some duck tape. Some fish came along and got stuck in the gum and wiggled their tails. This made the van/boat go faster! Soon a dolphin, with duck tape, came and they patched up the hole for real. The dolphin did a crazy dance and pushed them towards some land. Could it be Utah? Heidi was pretty sure that Utah didn’t have a beach. Or palm trees. They were almost to the land, when…]

They were almost to the land when... a dark shadow passed over them. They looked up, but it was too late. The giant eagle was already picking up the van, and lifted it out of the water... to its giant nest of hungry baby eagles! "HELP!" the girls cried to the dolphin below. The dolphin tried to flip up high enough, but couldn't reach them. They were flying towards the island, and on top of the giant mountain they could see the nest...

Thanks for everything, I love you all, and hope you all have a great week!
-Elder Thelin

So this is how we take pictures of a whole zone, precariously balancing a million cameras...

My first zone, left to right: top row, Elder John; 2nd row, Elder Vargas, Elder Perez (ZL), Elder Gurrola, Elder Rodriguez, Elder Ramirez; 3rd row, Elder Leavitt (ZL), me, Elder Edmonds, Elder Hatch, Elder Margolies; front row, Elder Casillas, Elder Montes

Elder Rodriguez, a visa waiter for Guadalajara Mexico, our new temporary companion

The 90 year old chapel our branch meets in, Buenaventura branch

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


OK, let's try this one again. Sheesh. I promise it was a good email, full of love and addressing everyone I usually don't and etc., etc., ... just sit down write a letter to yourselves and pretend it was the one from last week...

WELL now that's its been TWO weeks and I forgot half the stories from LAST week, HELLO everyone, once again!

Things are going pretty great here in good old Ogden Utah. Lots of stuff going on, all the time. Yup yup. We're trying to work our best and seeing the ways the Lord is in charge.
Cool thing - LAST saturday, a ton of plans fell through (that's not the cool part. duh.) We were in Riverdale (slightly higher class suburbs) and decided to use a large chunk of time walking to a High Councilman's house, 40 minutes away, to ask for referrals. Well, when we almost were there, a man pointed us to a neighbors house, told us to go knock it, a little out of our way. There wasn't any cars there, but we decided to try. On the way over, we noticed a family getting out of a car. We ran over - they were Hispanics (unusual for Riverdale) and they invited us in for a drink (of water. duh, again)... 2 hours later we left with a new FAMILY of investigators, who have heard missionaries before, the wife has friends in the Church and told us privately that she knows the Book of Mormon is true. We've been over several times now - they invited us for dinner on their own! They love having us over to talk. Also, after we left, the parents both had very interesting dreams, which involved the devil trying to chase them, then God saving them. The wife actually saw Elder Gurrola's face in her dream... weird, and funny (and no, Elder Gurrola wasn't the devil or anything. haha) Good stuff. The Lord gave us a miracle, and they're still coming...

WELL the baptisms went well. In the past week, I baptized Edson Torres - very cool, when I first saw him I never thought he'd be interested. But there was one lesson where he changed - opened up to us, and ever since, he's been soaking it in. He actually made us go buy all the hymns on CD for him... but I baptized him - after we got out of the font, he couldn't stop smiling and laughing. It was awesome.

And THIS week, we baptized 3 kids - 12, 15, and 16. Two of them from the first lesson wanted to be baptized - the 16 year old actually has brought a different friend with him to each lesson - already a missionary... the 15 year old was originally unsure, but he decided last week to join his brother and sister, and asked me to baptize him. They all go baptized on their sister's 12th birthday.
Ok, enough about work...

Talking to you all was really great - I really loved it, even though it was crazy. Wish I could have said more meaningful things, but that's how it is, huh? It wasn't staticky, don't worry.

Thanks so much for wanting to make sure I'm ok, Dad and Mom. You know, when I left the MTC, I don't think I really was. But I've been trying to just do it all and work on it. The mission is hard sometimes, draining psychologically and such. But finally in the last few weeks or so I've found a change in my way of working and thinking and stuff. Straight up faith. That's the way. I'm building that trust, and receiving that gift of faith. I'm fine. I'm learning things, seeing things, and I think I really needed that test. I think I needed it somehow. A lot of talks in conference were about Christ turning our challenges - sent from God, or self-inflicted - to our gain, to our building up. There is no trial designed to destroy us - but EVERY trial can make us stronger. So it is with this. I am doing great.

Ok, answering you - I get about an hour to email you each week - I'm at a (one of many in Utah, haha) family history center. There is no timer or anything, I have plenty of time to read your email and write, so don't worry.

I DID GET THE CINCO DE MAYO PACKAGE from Frank and Bob's! VERY cool. I still don't know what Cinco de Mayo is all about, but its very awesome (Americans seem to celebrate it more than Hispanics...) Pictures coming - mailing the package today...

Thanks for the replacement debit card - Sister Joyce called me immediately and I was the one who didn't call her back until yesterday... my fault.

Anxiously awaiting driver's license... hey, I might be getting a car next week at transfers! Whooo.... hope I don't have to use the pretty new VA pink and purple driver's license, what's up with that?... haha, poor Jeffrey...

Thank you to Aunt Jill for another fantastic letter - I really do love getting those, sorry I couldn't thank you more for them. That letter I wrote was pretty awesome (to Danny) haha... and the writing by Aunt Ruth was very cool. Loved it. She was an amazing person.
STEVEN - nice job on the scholarship, you genius you - and looks like you had a fun Prom experience, nice job :)

Jeff, proud of you...way to be a friend, broski.

Once upon a time, there were 2 little girls named Amy and Holly who lived in Virginia.They had a big brother on a mission - for 2 years! That's a long time. So they decided that they had better go find him. This was taking WAY too long. So Amy and Holly got the van packed full of junk, loaded up their two dogs, and got ready. Amy worked the radio while Holly got behind the steering wheel. At the last second, their big sister Heidi jumped in... and they were off! Off to see their big brother on his mission in Utah.... but the only thing was they weren't quite sure where that was... so off they went, and headed South to find him. Isn't Utah south? Hmm....(you all take it from here...)

Ok, well, my time is up. I love you all, and am always (well, when I should be) thinking of you all. I have a strong testimony that this is the Church of Jesus Christ. We have a prophet who guides us. Jesus Christ lives, and is the Savior. We are literally children of a Heavenly Father, who anxiously waits to embrace us after this life, and with His Spirit in this life. Faith, and onward in the work!

Elder Christopher Thelin

Us and Edson Torres at his baptism

Us and Edson, and his kids, and on the far right his wife Marleth, and his sister in law, Karen

5 de Mayo package...

The Spanish Central Zone @ Waterfall Canyon
Elder Gurrola @ Waterfall Canyon

Tyler DeHulst - always steals my camera at baptisms. He's the member who, in the most critical lesson with Edson, bore his testimony and really helped Edson out.

Classic church sign in Ogden...

The awesome Velasquez/Baray family baptism: Martin, Martin Sr, Victor, Griselda, and Maria

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


I had a good letter written. I really did. I just sent it. And it deleted it. The whole thing. I'm sorry, but now I have to go! GRRRRRRR!

Sigh. I'm sorry. It was full of faith, love, and good stuff. I love you all! Thanks for everything. I'm doing good, people are being baptized, and such!

Love, Elder Christopher Thelin. (best email ever, right?)

Monday, May 11, 2009


(written by Christopher's mom)

Picture a whole house full of family ranging in age from 14 months to 86 years old happily celebrating Mother's Day together on Sunday afternoon...engaging in light conversation...cute little girls enjoying a tea party on the floor, laughing at times...teenagers on the sun porch talking about AP tests and napping...adults preparing the upcoming meal. A web of extra phone lines and cords is strung from the wall to a speaker phone placed beside grandma along with an arsenol of cordless phones. The extra footage of cords has been cleverly camoflaged with throw rugs by Grandpa so Grandma won't worry about anyone tripping over them. Anticipation hangs in the air surrounding every spoken word, every little sip of invisible tea, and each and every tick of the antique clock on the mantle.

I hold a worn piece of paper in my hand everywhere I go, containing scribbled thoughts and questions that I have compiled over the past 3 months that have not been answered through letters. Every few minutes I look over the list again to be sure I haven't forgotten something. My husband checks for a dial tone on the phone for the 5th or 6th time to be sure it is still working.

At 3:17 the phone rings! We leap to answer it. My sweet niece is calling from Las Vegas with Mother's Day greetings! We express our thanks but tell her we will call her back in a little while! Sorry Ang! We do love you!

Activity resumes for a few minutes. Maybe if we all pretend we are not so excited he is calling...



A familiar voice answers over the speakerphone "Hi everybody!" In only two words, I can tell that he is happy.


He is deafened by the deluge of hellos from 18 people speaking simultaneously. We all take turns saying hello individually, then take him off speaker so we can pass the phone around. We learned that he is loving his life as a missionary, he has never walked so many miles in a day, he was baptizing Edson Torres last evening (funny story there--apparently he didn't realize that he had agreed to baptize Edson until his companion told him about it later. Chris said he didn't understand what the guy was saying, so he just smiled and nodded!) Amy talked to him next, with a lot of words like "dude" and "awesome." Heidi was so excited to talk to him that she giggled for a full two minutes before she could even speak. Holly found out that Chris was teaching someone who had a pet goat, which pleased her to no end. Jeffrey and cousin Steven broke the news to Chris that his prized "Universe Gel Globe" which he has kept on his desk for about 10 years, had exploded in a cosmic catastrophe when Chris' bulletin board fell off the wall and a push pin popped it. Now if the apocalypse happens we will all know why.

In the end, I didn't get to ask many of my questions on the list. They somehow didn't seem so important. He said he is witnessing miracles occuring in people's lives as they become excited about the gospel of Jesus Christ. What else could I possibly need to know?

Chris did want me to express HUGE thanks to EVERYONE who keeps sending him letters even though he can't often send any personal letters back. Special thanks to cousin Kayla and friend Kimmy for not giving up on him. And hello to everyone who reads the blog, but doesn't have enough time to write! He understands, and is happy that so many people are still checking in on him. He thinks about everybody and wishes he could write SO much more, but (mom speaking now) he has truly dedicated his life to the Lord for this time, so we all need to be patient. I personally feel like Hannah in the Bible, who took her precious son Samuel to the temple and turned him over to the Lord's service. I hope that my faith can be strong like hers because I know that he is doing such an important work for good in the world.

So that was it! The phonecall! It was the fastest 40 minutes of my life! Chris is still Chris! He sends love to everyone...AND now we get a letter tomorrow too! Cool! It is like a communication feast. Hah.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


(Elder Gurrola exclaims as he puts down his weights. 6:20 am.)
"What?" I mumble.
"Well, it's just really cool."
"What's really cool...?"
"The mission."
Elder Gurrola looks straight at me, then, with great pride and purpose, says "We get to help adjust people... so they never have migrane headaches again!"

Now picture that, only like all the time. Heh heh. I'm fairly sure this mission would make a pretty funny movie...

SO here we go... man, it feels like a year since last week, I'm not exactly sure when or where what events were... let's see. Well, Ogden is doing alright. Nice and different as usual. We're still trying to pump up the branch. It's interesting. We're learning things, like how positivity affects things. Our focus is to be positive - and happy. Until we are those two things, nothing will happen. In all our dealings, we smile, talk about our great successes, how miracles are about to be poured out on the area, etc. And we try to be as sincerely positive and happy as we can, even when we have reason not to be. And it's working. People change. It sparks faith. It's interesting to watch and be a part of.

Well, Sunday we're going to be baptizing our first real investigator. Edson Torres. About 30, married, his wife and her family are all members. Cool guy. At first we felt like he was just agreeing and listening because of family pressure. The first night I met him, I sincerely doubted we'd have anything he'd be willing to really accept. And I'm wrong. A few lessons in, his wife told us that she didn't think he would ever be baptized. They told us about some marital problems. Then he started crying. He told us how hard it was, having problems with his marriage, disappointment, debts, living in a new country... and we were able to show him what can get him though. The member we had with us was excellent, testifying of the gospel of Christ on the earth. And things have changed since that night. He is being baptized May 10th. Way cool.

Also, we were invited to teach a family in a member's home (the FBI Ward Mission leader), Familia Valasquez. We taught a short lesson about the Restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ to the earth... and committed them to be baptized. They said yes! A mom and 3 kids - two teenage boys and a 12 year old girl (reminds me of Heidi). The mom and one boy are a little iffy still, but the 16 year old and the girl told me afterwards that they were for sure getting baptized, no way anyone could tell them otherwise. It was way cool. (and the kids speak better english than spanish, so we teach half and half... relief...) Hmm, ok, another cool miracle - met a girl outside and asked if we could come back and teach - she "kinda" said yes. Which means we come and teach anyways. When we came she said really she wasn't at all interested, she just didn't know how to tell us that - didn't matter, her cousin was there, and we just started teaching outside to them anyways. We've gone back a few times. Seems like they are just being nice. I was thinking it wasn't going anywhere, maybe we should move on... when in the middle of a lesson about what the Book of Mormon is, another guy showed up, Luis. "Hey, we're learning about the book of Mormon, wanna listen?" "Pues, como no?" (why not). Sat down, and was really receptive. Told us exactly when we could come back, agreed to read a part and pray, etc etc - basically, wanting to learn - he actually said we were welcome to return any time to their house, which was not the reaction we were getting from the others... because we diligently kept trying, maybe we've found someone who is sincere and prepared... cool!

And so it is. Some days are more productive than others. But little things like that happen, little miracles. And it's just the beginning.

Heh, I need to learn Spanish... yikes. I'm getting chastized for not speaking much. My shyness-lack-of-social-skills are combining with my lack-of-words and making me a little more mute than I should be. Going to be bold this week and just babble like a toddler, even if its wrong... good stuff though. Hah, actually, the biggest motivation to talk is coming from an awesome guy named Martin Dominguez. Rough, blunt, awesome guy. Baptized a while ago. Funny, goes to Catholic Mass if he misses Sacrament Meeting ("Es el mismo, no?") He's not afraid to say what needs to be said, telling people to get married, stop sinning, etc - and he told me I need to talk ALL the time, and in short, "You need to become a Happy Mexican." That is now my goal. A Happy Mexican. Uh huh.

Ok, well, about time to go. Hey, I think I forgot to say THANK YOU Grandma Pat for the Easter candy, I did find it! And it's a good thing, my sugar stash doesn't get to be refilled often here, heh! Thanks!

Kayla, package: Wow. Kudos to Kelly n Lindsey on the Post its, I approve. The rock... wow. and... wow.

Family: Dad, that sounds so cool about Grandpa Murray. That's so awesome. I hope you got pictures and stuff. Thats the honor he always deserved. Its really cool to know that I have his name. Anyways, thanks for sharing that!

Ok, I'm going to call grandma's on Sunday at 1-2 pm on my time, so 3-4 your time? somewheres around there. I get 30-40 minutes, so yup! We'll have to think up some good stuff to say. But yeah, should be fun!

Ok, we gots to go. Gospel's true. Really it is. We are children of God. If everyone could just go to Primary, they'd all know... amazing how many people don't know their Heavenly Father's plan... but yes, we're trying to fix that. : )

Love, Elder Christopher TELIN (yes, we are getting a NEW tag with my new Spanish name on it, no one can say Thelin.... accent on the i...)

AMY... I want the scooter, my feet hurt!

Martin Dominguez, the man who told me to become a Happy Mexican