Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Sam sent the following email and photos on Monday, May 26, 2014:

My Dearest Darlingest Momsy and Popsicle and Everyone Else,

How's it going out in the real world? All the Dear Elders from you guys help on keeping me up to date. Except on Saturdays the mail closes at 2 and then closed on sundays and today is a holiday so if you've sent dear elders since friday night I haven't gotten any of them yet.
It's good to get the sports updates. I especially enjoyed hearing about Lail because I'd been wondering how he was doing.

Those darn ducks are nasty. Go Riverton soccer.

It was nice of you guys to include me on your cemetery Memorial Day tour. Now I truly feel like I am dead to you. Skibby can try to learn Root Beer Rag but she will never, NEVER be as good as I was.

Choir is pretty fun. I usually sing in the bass section, but I might move up and sing baritone some of the times. We usually just practice a song for an hour on sundays, then on tuesdays we practice for about an hour and a half of the same song and sing it that night for the devotional. Last tuesday some guy from the seventy came but we sang a song and I got a couple of close ups on the screen. As in I was like featured. Zierenberg says it zoomed in on my face at least 2 times so probably about a whole 15 seconds during a 2 and a half minute song that the camera was just on me. I didn't get to see because looking at the screen is strictly prohibited. And besides that, if you get on the screen and look up at it you look dumb. But about everybody in my zone told me that I was on there big time. They choose the most handsome/best singers to be on the broadcasts. They might be broadcasting  one of the devotionals soon but I don't know how or where. If you find out and can watch it, look for me.

Last night was probably the most sound sleep i've gotten since being here.

It's weird because the people that were here before me seem older than I am, but they're actually about the same age. 

We got haircuts the other day. They actually turned out pretty good despite poor reviews from other elders. We'll probably go about weekly because they're free and it means we don't have to study.

Our class is on the fifth floor of 18m so we have to climb a million steps a million times a day. The elevator is reserved for injured/handicapped missionaries. I play volleyball most days at gym. Somehow, though, I always end up on the bad team and am playing against all the good players.

We have only started learning a little bit of the script alphabet. They're more concerned with us learning vocabulary and grammar stuff right now. It's going to be difficult to learn a whole new alphabet though. I understand most of what the teacher says, but it's harder to have to speak it on my own.

I think I've said just about everything. If you have any questions about anything just ask me specific questions and I can answer them. I miss you guys and hope everything is going well.

Send my regards to Cubby

Sam and his companion, Elder Zierenberg

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

On Monday, May 19th, we got our first email from Sam since dropping him off at the MTC last Wednesday.  We were so happy to hear from him!  He forgot to mention how much he misses his mother...just an oversight, I'm sure.  Following are his email and some photos:

I've never lived in Communist China, but having spent the past 5 or so days here I don't think I'll ever have to. Things in here are very rigid sometimes but they're also kind of fun sometimes. I don't know. I think the best thing about it is the people that are with you.

The food is a little bit lower quality than Cannon Center food, but the worst part about it is that you have to eat it every single day for every single meal. I'm quickly learning, with the help of my comp E. Zierenberg, that you have to make a conscious effort to eat enough bran because otherwise you get backed up and feel terrible.

I'll give you the basics really fast. My companion is Elder Zierenberg (i call him Elder Z) and he's from Ventura County, CA. My district is 15 people, which is really big. 8 boys, 7 girls. I already knew the kid from my mission prep class (Neuberger), and the girl from my ward (Christensen). The other kid from Texas (Eliason) is the one Westovers' son knows. Then the guy from Kevin and Melanie's ward (Nguyen) is in a different district bc he's speaking Vietnamese, but he's cool.

I really like the zone. It's all the southeast Asian places so like we have Cambodia, Thai, Hmong, Cantonese, Vietnamese, and stuff like that. There'll be some Lao elders coming in soon. Everyone is really cool. The 4 Cantonese elders are from England and so they all have bloody epic accents and I really like practicing my English accent and lingo with those lads.

J-Money told me this, but on the first day they don't allow you any free time so you can't think about leaving at all. It's crazy how good of friends all the guys in my district already feel like we are. I think it's because everyone just bonds together while they're losing their minds. There are 4 guys in my room. Wednesday feels like a really long time ago. The best part of the day is gym and we have it for 50 minutes at about 7:30. Gym's cool because I can play a lot of things well, so people like you if you can do that. It's very nice to get off the MTC campus and see the real world. It's so weird living so close to where I've been millions of times but not being able to leave. The buildings are really tall and the trees block a lot of space so you literally can almost never see outside.

The Khmai is cool but it's hard. They teach languages much like the church baptizes converts: immersion. I can say little gospel stuff but not much really. They made us teach an "investigator" AKA a guy pretending not to be lds on Friday named Sohkaa. We also taught him Saturday and we will later today. Everything is romanized so far but I guess we learn script next week. Khnom neak phs))p phsaay saasnaa pii preahvobetaa. That means I'm a missionary from Heavenly Father.

The first few days feel horrible, but as you go more and more insane you don't realize how bad they are sometimes. The companionships are amazing matched. My comp and I go lift at 6:30 when we get up now. No one else in the whole MTC does that because the gym was completely empty when we went the other day.

We have devotionals every Sunday and Tuesday. I went to choir practice last night. Before last night's devotional, everyone in a position of authority kept saying it was going to be a really good one, but when we got there they just showed a video of a talk Elder Bednar gave previously. Then when that was finished after an hour, they actually brought him out from behind the doors and he did Q&A with the missionaries for about an hour. He was pretty cool. He's very smart. I was 7 rows from the front.

I don't know what else to say, really. I haven't gotten dear elders for the past few days because the district leader hasn't picked them up, so I might be a little behind. That's too bad about the fish Steve-O. I'm sure I'll need to get a few things sent in to me before I leave, but I'll make a list and let you know.

Can you find out if Brady Earley is speaking Mandarin or Cantonese? Picture uploading is weird here so I have to figure out how to do it and when I do I'll send home some pictures. Did you figure out the dropbox thing yet dad? One guy here says he has like a terabyte of memory that he'll put everything on but I don't know what everyone is doing. At least in the MTC I don't think I can navigate to other websites to drop pictures. 

Okay guys, tell Cubby I said hi.

Sam with his companion, Elder Zierenberg

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

We dropped Sam off at the MTC today!  It was a bittersweet time, but we know there are great things in store for him.  We are very grateful for all of you who have done so much for him.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Thanks to all who attended Sam's missionary farewell yesterday.  Your support and love means so much to him and all of us!  Sam will enter the MTC this Wednesday, May 14th.  He will be there 9 weeks learning the Khmer language, and then he's scheduled to fly to Cambodia July 17th.  Sam just received his MTC mailing address:

Elder Samuel Peter Christensen
2007 N. 900 E. Unit 33
Provo, UT  84602

Again, many thanks to such wonderful family and friends!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Sam's missionary farewell will be Sunday, May 11, 2014 at 1:00 p.m.