Wednesday, July 29, 2009


This may not be exactly how the newspaper headlines read, but as a mom, I was pretty impressed by Christopher's fire story (see letter below, 5th paragraph) and how he and his companion helped out in a time of great need. I looked up the details online and thought this news video and picture gallery gave the best coverage. It was a devastating fire, and it is really a miracle that nobody was injured. We will all be praying for the families who lost their homes and possessions, but are so thankful that the Lord protected them and kept them safe.

In the video, I kept looking for a glimpse of some missionaries--when they interview the Hispanic lady you can see a young man in a suit standing behind her. I have decided that it for sure isn't Chris, but it could be his companion,... maybe? Who else but Mormon missionaries would be dressed in a suit in July during a fire?

We are very proud of Chris and happy that he could offer some assistance during this crisis!

Mom of Chris


Dear Family,

I'm not sure how you all quite manage to do it, but watching our family in week-long segments is pretty much like watching a novela (soap opera/sitcom) unfolding in episodes (minus all the trash that the people here are so addicted to - novelas, you kinda have to experience the significance, Joey or other spanish missionaries probably would understand...) but seriously, how in the heck? The "Let it Shine '09" Youth Conference sounds like a priceless memory up there with Clue the Musical! And, boats and pollinating the pumpkins in the garden- Dad, good luck. Be a good little bee, pollinating the flowers. You could get in touch with the Graubards and start up a bee colony... make sure the boat collection involves a ski nautique by 2011, I hear about people water skiing every week here, grr, the Branch secretary here (a RM) likes to taunt me about that...
Wow. Good job family. Haha.

Holy cow, this week was crazy - so much has happened!
Start at TUESDAY: We were kinda bored and would have written a ton of letters (sorry everyone) but instead had an insanely cool idea - us and the Zone Leaders got together and met up at our awesome 90 year old chapel. This chapel looks a lot like an old Catholic cathedral, and is full of secrets... and we have ALL the keys to the building... so we spent a good like 3 hours exploring (made a rule that we couldn't turn on any lights, had to use flashlights for cool effect) -and no kidding there are like tunnel systems under the floorboards which we were crawling through, we got behind the back wall of the chapel and walked through the giant organ pipes, under the stand, found treasures, found a secret trap door in the ceiling and made a ladder to get up into some cool rooms, found a way to the roof, and toured the steeple "tower". WAY crazy day, got pictures.

Then on FRIDAY it was PIONEER DAY [ July 24th, commemorating the day the Mormon pioneers arrived in the Salt Lake Valley] , which is VERY IMPORTANT in UTAH. So important that there was a giant parade in Ogden... with about 60 missionaries as part of it - we got to march, wave, sing (the AP's [missionaries assigned to the mission office as assistants]directed us sitting with the Mission President in a covertible that was ironically driven by a guy covered in tatoos--probably a church member--remember Ogden is different!) and then we handed out pass along cards to everyone between songs, running along and throwing them to kids and parents - it was pretty crazy, and one of those things that definitely only happens to Utah missionaries. Normally people aren't cheering for us quite like that, haha...

The weekend was a little rougher - we lost some baptisimal dates because people didn't come to church - and Chantal and Carlos still didn't buy their marriage license (but the are going to today, marriage is now set for next week.... grr, keeps moving). Sinesio and Edith did get confirmed though, which was way cool - Sinesio is so awesome, so excited - he's always recommending us to people at random ("These muchachos have wisdom! They know God! Listen!") and testifies powerfully of the Book of Mormon and of the power of baptism to everyone - way cool.

Last week some people we have been teaching couldn't come to Church because AS their ride knocked on the door, someone shattered their sliding glass door with a rock! It seemed to us almost like Satan PHYSICALLY ATTACKED THEIR HOUSE! (They live in kind of a rundown area). And so they couldn't come to church. Then this week they didn't wake up in time for Church... so we went to check on them. We stopped by around 3, and pulled up to the apartments. A police car was at the gate, and an officer trying frantically to get in. We showed him how, and then immediately saw tons of people swarming out of the apartments... and a huge red blaze... Suddenly there were 3 fire trucks, ambulances, police, and people running to the street. We stuck around and interpreted for the police - apparently an electrical wiring went crazy, exploded... and there were NO fire extinguishers OR alarms to put out what started as a small fire. After FIVE HOURS or more of dumping water from FOUR trucks, the fire was STILL not out. It ran through the entire roof, and the 3rd floor caved in. The second is full of smoke and water damage, and the first is under water from all the water they shot at it. It's completely destroyed - will fall down in a few days. We had 5 investigators and about 3 member families there. They all have no homes now - NOTHING. It was horrible. We spent the evening at our chapel (set up as a refuge) translating for Red Cross, trying to help them out. It was crazy. Please, pray for these families - about 200 people lost everything this weekend. [From later news reports, it seems that 200 is actually the number of people who were evacuated from the building and surrounding area and were without shelter that first night. All occupants of the complex, about 83 people, were left homeless as a result of the fire.] Thankfully, NO ONE got hurt. They even went in and saved a ton of rabbits and cats the next day. Some people jumped from 2nd story balconies and were ok, including a new born child and its mother! No one is hurt, so that was a HUGE blessing. Amazing.

Crazy.SO yeah, that's Ogden right now.

Thank you SO much for the package and letters - they are awesome. Amy, you're right, that sounds like a pretty awesome day at Kings Dominion - when I get back, we'll go on all the 48 inch rides. I'm working on the Flat Chris picture- probably send it next week, with a package and pictures or something. Jeff, thanks for the letter - that was pretty awesome. The trip sounds like a blast - ha, I'm kinda jealous of some of the stuff you're experiencing. Thank you for sharing, that was a big boost to me. Keep going strong. I'm gonna write some letters to all of the family - I realized I haven't really done that yet!

Well, once again, its all true! These are the last days, and they will get hard, but we will be supported. The Church is the kingdom of God. It is His. Christ is the Savior of the world - He condescended and lived among men... and really if you think about it His condescension never ceased. He still is condescending and saving and serving us every day. He always will. Seek Him - I'm not perfect at this, but that is my desire - to know Him, to have that relationship with Him and know Him as if He is standing by me. I know we can.

Well, "Now is the time. We're gonna let it shine!" (haha--you can add in the random fist pumping and High School Musical jumps and stuff, Jeff...)

Love, Elder the Thelin (no more Tay-leen... um, it has been brought to my attention that, um, I need to change that.... details maybe disclosed later, ugh. Just know that yes, I still have my same amazing luck and skills with life. Like falling off my bike as it was stopped last night, in front of a a lady who is a notary and her daughter that were coming to notorize Chantal y Carlos's marriage license... as well as trying to be macho and eat too many chilis this weekend to prove I was really from Juanicao Mexico... back home in Juanicao they don't make 'em so picante...)

PS Please send Katharine my best wishes.
PS2 I miss that summer goal of waking up by 10:30, haha, sheesh...
Ps3 ...but it was too late. The platypii couldn't catch them. The kangaroos hopped off to the highlands in the forests. The girls felt very koochy in the pouches, and bounced around for a long time. Amy tried to start up the lightsaber, but it was too cramped. Finally they were dumped out and stuck up in a tree fort. They could see the kangaroos down below, making evil kangaroo plans. Where were the platypii? Holly tried to make friends with some of the little kangaroos, but they didn't want to talk to strangers. They stayed there all night. Then, as the sun came up...(to be continued)

PPPPPPPPPP to the s: Sweet quotes, Mom, holy cow, that was awesome... I think my protoplasm is somewhere a long way away... time to dress different and act wild...

PPssssssssssssssssssssss gBYE! Later!

The Spanish Central Zone at the Ogden Pioneer Day Parade

(left to right: Elders Leavitt, Moberly, Tetelpa, Meza, Romney, Thelin, Limon, and Hermanas Shuttleworth and Lopez)

(inside Buenaventura Chapel)

secret passages....

Tuesday, July 21, 2009



Hey what up family, how's everyone doing?

Man, this week flew by... great week though. I feel like I've learned a ton, and been through a ton. Actually, it feels like someone's been beating me with a stick every day for several hours, and when I wake up in the morning it feels like I just laid down. I've been told once you enter this stage, you don't leave it. Haha. 19 months... no, but really, its good. I think this week I've started to understand really what it is I'm doing. Like, I've known intellectually that this is all important, but some things actually sank in better, and I'm seeing that this is eternally significant.

The baptisms were great. Thank you for your fasting and prayers - we didn't have 4 baptisms, just 2. Chantal y Carlos failed to purchase a marriage license, sooo.... we'll do that next Saturday instead. But Sinesio and Edith both came through. I've never seen anyone so excited to be baptized as Sinesio Vargas. He had everything planned out - he wanted it in a river, and to save a leaf from a nearby tree to remember, seal his baptisimal clothes in plastic and hang it in his closet forever, and have a picture of him coming up out of the water blown up huge on his living room wall... um, well, miracle, he settled with a baptisimal font, a program, and a picture of him in white. Funny guy, he feels like a good friend - he picked me to baptize him. It was a cool experience - I spent a long time beforehand preparing and studying what baptism really is about, and gained more of a testimony of it - it is the beginning of a path, a real resurrection of spirit, starting a new life. It was very cool to be able to do that for Sinesio - a very good service. Edith and Sinesio are both baptized, and will receive the gift of the Holy Ghost Sunday. Very cool.

We also had a zone conference, the first with President Olson. It was cool, we had a testimony meeting, and one Elder had, for medical reasons, began his mission in Finland, then to Florida, and then HERE to serve in Spanish. 3 missions, 3 languages. He testified that out of all of them, this mission is the best. The most growth, the most spiritual, and its just strong. It's weird. Utah? a MISSION? It seems weird at first. Some people call it a baby mission (which is ridiculous, there ARE no easy missions) but here it's a different kind of mission. From my personal experience, and from talking with older missionaries, it is probably one of the most psychologically demanding - you cannot serve here without a testimony. It's crazy - but I know that this mission is where I need to be. Believe it or not, there are people here who desperately need the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It feels kinda like entering a battlezone every time we step out the front door. But its cool.

I'm glad you got to go to the pageant. It sounds like a normal vacation - but really, you got to spend time together at least. Take advantage of that. I wish I'd done more of that on those trips. Even if everything external falls apart, the inner is the part that matters, the memory and experience. Probably could do without an exploding earlobe though...

Haha, but yeah, I laughed at that description of the trip - so familiar. I've been under the impression that I shouldn't think too hard about my life before the mission and stuff, that THIS is what really matters right now, but I'm seeing more something that Carl told me - that really, I'm still me, but in a magnified, dedicated sense. Ha, funny, camper crashing down - last time THAT happened I was in EFY, actually only 30 minutes south of here... history repeats... yeah, we should definitely go up to the pageant after this - that could be fun for a summer trip. Right after the Hawaii one, the one to Mexico, then the one....

Oh man, yeah, lets do it. I think I'll be ready to do a lot of stuff after this, I'm missing swimming, ugh... sweating isn't the same...

So yeah, one other cool experience this week, we went to go teach a guy, and his wife said he was enojado (mad) and was pouting in his room, so we went in, convinced him to come out, sat him down with his family and taught them for 10 minutes about having family prayers - afterwards we helped him pray for his family, and by the time we left, he was playing in the yard with his kids, laughing. Simple, but the Gosepl and the Spirit change lives. That's what its about. Bringing people to Christ, and changing ourselves through Him, bringing us closer to our Father.

I love you all, and hope you're all doing good. Don't waste the summer! Have fun together, and take lots of pictures! I know this is all true! Sometimes it doesn't make sense, but its true nonetheless. Recently my favorite scripture is Proverbs 3:5-6 (lean not to thy own understanding....)

-Love, Elder Chris Thelin

Ps: Yes, being safe riding our bikes. Of course mother. Ha, Sinesio needed a table and 2 chairs - we found some a mile or two away. We were on bikes. So, we put the chairs on our bike seats, balancing them, and rode our bikes all the way through hills, city, a cemetery, and part forest, balancing on a kitchen chair, all the way to his house. It was spectacular. We're safe... got pics...

PPPS: (the saga continues...)
As the van landed on the shores of Australia (the platypii carried it on their backs), everyone jumped out. "Hey, its hot here!" Amy said. "Utah is HOT right?" The platypii lead the group (and the dogs) inland, through the bushland, and into a small fortress. There a platypus king was waiting. Perry knelt in front of him and made his little gggggg noise (of COURSE I remember than noise). Then the king began to speak. Holly interpreted. "He says that we're in Australia" Heidi said "Ask him if he knows Chris" Holly did. All the platypii stopped, and bowed. "They say that Chris was their PRESIDENT before his mission! and that he said that anyone who's related to the PRESIDENT deserves their protection and honor and we can command all the platypii!" Luke liked that - an army of platypii to help them out. Suddenly the fortress shook. "Uh-oh....." barked Tippy. In dog language....

Chairs on bikes for Sinesio...

Buenaventura Baptism Room, Brother Ramos and Ward Mission Leader Brother Cazares
Edith Castro

Sinesio Vargas

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Hello Family!
Man, lots of changes this week, weird! The mission life is all about change, I guess. So is life life. Weeeeell, yup, I "killed" Elder Gurrola last week. He worked up until his last day - it was actually pretty funny, he was going insane -the mission life is compared to real life - before your mission is the "pre-existence", then you are "born" and have a certain amount of time to work and labor, and then you "die", and the dark night cometh. Haha. As we were heading down to the Ogden Tabernacle on his last day, he was talking about going to "heaven", and there he was reunited with other missionaries who were "dead" - then the next day he went to his father (well, his father drove up to him) and he entered a new and higher life.... it was all pretty dramatic. Gonna miss that guy, he was an absolute lunatic, but an amazing missionary. He had a gift with people, kinda like you Dad -- its something I pray I'll develop here. Yup. I'm learning bit by bit.

Elder MINSON is from Arizona - he's pretty cool, it's way different to work with someone who has a blue toothbrush (as opposed to one I had to GIVE to Elder Gurrola, ha) but we're having fun, and setting baptismal dates like crazy! We're trying to save Ogden all over again. That is if his girlfriend doesn't "dear john" him and ruin his life first. Sheesh.

And yes, we have President Olsen here from Philidelphia now - way different too, but it's cool, the Lord uses all of our differences to get the work done in a million ways. He's more business like, but I guess very few people were like the Joyces - President Joyce had a general authority aire about him. Crazy. Amazing guy. But so is President Olsen.... I'll ask about his toothbrush...

Good job on the missionary work mom, that's cool. I haven't seen many Indian people . Come across some Native Americans, though, who do NOT like to be confused with Hispanics, I've offended many by mistake... There are nice ladies that do give us drinks of water when we look pitiful, Mom. We ARE in Utah - even if Ogden is the armpit of Utah, there still are 40% members here. Its just they might have tatoos or something. But yeah, Hispanics are way nice and willing to share, give water, food, etc. They hate to reject people - which is frustrating because they'll say with a smile we can come over at such and such time, and then they aren't there.... or will listen and not be interested at all... that's how it goes. But every once and a while we get the golden one who is searching. Man, Sinesio, that guy who wanted to get baptized in a river (can't now, it's not allowed :( ) had an amazing experience Sunday. He's been iffy about baptism, and we didn't know why. After Sacrament mtg sunday I saw him leave quickly. I ran outside to catch him - I guess, he was overcome by the spirit of God. He keeps talking about how much light is in his life now, how he's been searching for the Lord's church for years, in all churches, and never has been filled like now. Way sweet. 4 baptisms this Sunday - its going to be amazing! Chantal y Carlos are getting married on Saturday and baptized Sunday, Edith from El Salvador, and Sinesio. It's awesome.

Well, it sounds like the family is ready to take a vacation, you're right, that does sound pretty normal. With all of the crazy stuff you are dealing with, it sounds like Satan is throwing a little tantrum. You could expect that. I hope its an amazing experience in Palmyra - I wish I could go, but that's ok. Just be careful to not kill both the cars... you could take the boat...

That was a really cool experience about Culpeper Ward. I do miss it back there. But it looks like it's in good hands - Bishop Henry sounds amazing. Listen to him. Satan is real - he tempts in millions of ways, trying to shame people from being faithful, offending people through gossip, etc. We run into SO many people who have been offended, who went astray for little things, and now don't enjoy the blessings of the church. They talk about how they KNEW it was true, about how they were baptized and life was beautiful, and then they were offended or whatever and stopped coming. Be faithful. The world is on a scary slope, and its going to be hard, but we need to be strong. I'll be praying for the ward too.

Thanks for the scripture, Mom, that is a good one - these missionary scriptures are a lot more meaningful now, ha, but its true, I know the Lord is taking care of you all, and we're all where we are supposed to be.

Alright, we have to go buy food now. Elder Minson is done writing his girlfriend... thank you all for all you do. Good luck with the earlobe, the java script, the boats, the trips... have fun! I love you all, and I know, like Bishop Henry, that our Savior lives and is with us.

Hasta luego!
Elder Christopher Thelin!

P.S. yes we are on bikes, and its crazy... this area is huge, we travel a LOT...
P.p.s. Penguins. they were all around the x-van. "I've got a bad feeling about this" said Luke. "Why, they're just PENGUINS!" cried Holly. Suddenly one of the penguins pulled out a little gun. They ALL pulled out little guns. Heidi remembered something Chris always said - "Platypuses are friends, Penguins are the enemy. " Luke turned on the engines. This was gonna get rough...

Elder Gurrola and Elder Minson, my new comp...

Elder Gurrola, dead... waiting for his dad to come...

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


Hello family!

Man, crazy week - this time really does fly. Well, I'm sending home my trainer Elder Gurrola tomorrow! It's hard to believe - I'm going to have to get used to someone else 24/7... but man, it’s weird. Weirder for him. He doesn't have anyone to really email this week, so I might have to be briefer on this. We'll see. His dad is coming up on Thursday, and they are going to drive around and tour the people he's met (100's) all over this part of Utah. Sounds like a cool way to end the mission, maybe. We'll see. I feel trunky already, haha (trunky is an elder that is getting preoccupied with coming home at the end of his mission). It's kinda weird hearing all this “after-mission” counsel from people and plans for family to come, etc. Weird. 19 months left, its flying! I'll miss Elder Gurrola, we were good friends here. He's a nut, but a great missionary.

My new companion is..... Elder Minson! Haven't met him yet, but on the phone he asked me "the most critical of all questions" - "What color is your toothbrush?" We'll get along fine. I'm staying here in Buenaventura, so I get to know these people a little better, figure out how to communicate with them some more, etc. - hopefully I can help Elder Minson run this area effectively, yikes.

That's way cool about Terran and the empanada craving - once Elder Gurrola had to floss his teeth reallllllly bad and it led us straight to a member who was in desperate need of some testimony and help (sorry if I told that before). Its crazy how stuff like that happens, but that’s how it is on the mission - the Lord works through other people to bless lives.

Sounds like it was a spectacular 4th of July - man, a food parade, "party poppers"from South Carolina (yeah, right)... sounds like fun - That's sweet that you all managed so many people - high 5, that’s a feat. That's something I think I'm going to miss more and more, I loved family gatherings, seeing so many people that were my family. It’s great though to see it’s all still going on in some other part of the world, so I'll participate long distance style. Our 4th of July consisted of talking to some of our old neighbors in Riverdale about listening to old 80's music from America that had drifted down to Columbia, and rocking out to it as teenagers, but not knowing what any of the words meant, haha... then early curfew of 9:00, wheee.....

I feel almost ashamed at how rich I've lived in my life. There are people who are suffering all over, desperate for ANY job, ANY money, a place to LIVE - its humbling. I've spent a lot of time this week learning from people about life in other countries. I understand why people come here illegally - life in other countries is horrible. In America the police don't pull you over and force you to pay them money, people don't rampage like they do there, people don't live in fear that the police or government are going to destroy your family for money and such. I won't write it all, but it’s sad - in the Book of Mormon it talks about corruption in the government, secret combinations, murders, etc - before the coming of Jesus Christ. That’s a type of what will pass before the Second Coming - I always figured that was GOING to happen. I'm learning that outside of the USA, it’s ALREADY happening. It’s hard to see these nice, happy people in their nice, peaceful little homes and stuff as coming from these backgrounds. Don't spend more than you need, and do NOT take what we have for granted. I used to worry about whether our family's 3rd laptop could get wireless internet instead of using a cable. Good grief.

I think that's one of the greatest gifts of a mission - seeing the world as it really is, what is important and what’s not. Material things don't matter. People matter. I will be different after the mission, I think (well, I HOPE). I am getting a better perspective on how to use time better. I wish I had spent much more time before my mission getting to know people in my life more, even in my own family. So much of what I thought was everything.... doesn't matter! It’s weird. Jeffrey, take it as a lesson - you'll be doing this in a few years - just make sure to make time for what’s really important. (and I know now it’s not Facebook, lol).

Thank you all SO MUCH for all the letters and packages this week. Aunt Jill/Joey/Farrells, the letters are always good (ha, Joey, yeah, all the music you listed is definitely here and thriving in our apartment complex). The pictures are awesome too - congrats again Steven! The pictures of the play looked way awesome - I didn't recognize Holly and Amy at first! Two little Siamese girls for sisters, ha... and Heidi looked quite pretty as a wife - looked like a great play! I loved all the letters, I'll try to write back to all of them – it’s kinda hard, sorry! Amy, I didn't know you could write that much! I loved them all, but don't have them with me right now, so I'll respond to them later. It was very cool though, thank you!

I'll be sending pictures hopefully in the next few weeks, so be ready...Ok, well, I gots to be going! I love you all, and pray for you all the time. For all of you I don't get to write very much, I'm sorry. You're not forgotten, I promise, I just haven't figured out how to write to everyone yet!

I know this Gospel is true. Truth has been restored to the earth. This is the true gospel of our Savior Jesus Christ. He lives. He loves us. He knows us. I know that we are all in the hands of a loving Heavenly Father, who before this life, loved us, cared for us, taught us. He knows us perfectly, and His only work is to get us Home safely, and He gives his full attention to it without any distractions or other hobbies. I have felt His love this week. We can talk to Him in prayer. Seek Him. That's what life is really about. Seek Him, and come closer to Him with those we love. It's true! I'm glad to be able to share it with the brothers and sisters that are searching. Don't take it for granted!

Elder Christopher Thelin!

P.S. No, I don't actually have a new nametag, but I WAS thinking about it. Heh. Maybe when one of these breaks, (you go through a good 10 or 12 at least I hear). It's bound to happen riding bikes everywhere and such. (oh yeah, we STILL don't have a car, AND we don't get bus passes this month, so it’s bikes. sweet.)

P.P.S.The continuation of the silly story: but THEN a thundering sound was heard. The Yubs scattered into the woods. BOOM. Another one. Something was coming. Amy scrunched her eyebrows and ignited the lightsaber. "COME AND GET IT!!!!!" she yelled at the woods. Heidi quickly slid the raft into the river beside them, and Luke Skywalker jumped into the van and backed it onto the raft. BOOM. The YubYubs forgot Tippy and Tanny, so Holly grabbed them and put them on the raft. BOOM. Amy waved the lightsaber around some more. Suddenly a TYRANNASAURUS REX BURST OUT OF THE TREeS AND WAS RUNNING AT THE GIRLS! "AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" screamed Amy and turned around (you can't kill a Rex with a lightsaber,, everyone knows that). They all ran into the van. "This'll be just like flying an Xwing" Luke said as he stomped on the pedal and the van/raft sped backwards into the river. TheT rex was still coming. "Can they swim?" Holly asked. "Uhh....." said Heidi.... and THEN....