Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Our Cyprus Christmas 2011

My friends for the week are Henry and Israel, two wonderful Nigerian investigators that actually showed up for church on Christmas Day.

Christmas was amazing!  We ate so many dinners with different branch members and loved every bite!  Rumianna is an amazing Bulgarian sister that can cook anything!  She and her family had us over with all the elders and another Bulgarian family on Christmas night!

 What a party! It was a seven course Bulgarian meal with salmon and turkey and at least ten other dishes. The branch president's wife, Rosie, is pictured here second to the left and is expecting their first child any day now.  They will be a great parents. Pres. Ivanovi is at the head of the table by Virgil. President made the bread for the meal.  It was amazing!
Monday was Boxing Day, which they celebrate here in Cyprus and we were invited to the Philipines apartment for a wonderful dinner. Pictured here is our sweet sister, Leah, and her aunt (not a member) working on the meal.

 The elders pictured here at the Philipine's apartment were complaining of being too full, but loved every second of the five HUGE meals we had in 48 hours.  We love trying all these interesting dishes.

Our final meal was at a restaurant owned by an Iranian member of the branch and his family.  We enjoyed a Persian meal with beef and chicken kabobs, rice, Greek salad with lots of multi-language friendships. These little 8 year old girls are part of the Iranian families--Rebecca and Meika. Both girls can speak six languages for different reasons. Phillipino (one of their mothers), Polish (from a grandmother), Greek from school, Iranian (Persian?) English and German from another relative.  It is truly amazing as they are very fluent in each! 

Here is part of the meal and an Iranian investigator, Abuss, that the missionaries taught after the meal.  He speaks English, so we had wonderful dinner conversation with him about Christianity and our church.

 His sweet wife, Sarah is lonely and doesn't speak Engish, but I felt a special connection with her and her children.
 Here is Dad at this incredibly long and tall arch here in Larnaca, a symbol of the Goddess Aphrodites.

 We took a little excursion to the sea to watch the wind surfers on the only windy day we have had here in Larnaca--reminscent of our Oklahoma home!  The wind, not the surfers!
Some olive trees date back at least a 1,000 years here in Cyprus.  What an adventure it all is!  Every morning before we go out, we pray that the Lord will put us in the path of people He has prepared to hear the gospel.  Every day we have these incredible experiences that help us know the same God who created these olive trees centuries ago is guiding our lives and helping us fulfill this truly amazing missionary call to serve here in Cyprus.
                          WE LOVE OUR MISSION!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Cyprus Dec. 14-21, 2011

Again this week we made many new friends. Here I am with a couple of the branch members, Lea and Lynn, who we had to our apartment for dinner after church.  We love these girls!  There are about ten Philipino girls in the branch that have left their families to earn money. They send almost every cent back to the Philipines for their families' support. Amazing young Latter day Saints!

We always invite our good elders to join us, Elders Norguard, Psota, (withValentin, the branch councilor) Rahal and Held. We are with these great missionaries almost everyday as we teach people here in Larnaca whom the Lord has prepared.

We had our first zone conference in Nicocia on Monday. It was a service project with all the missionaries in Cyprus. Here are the only two young sisters missionaries on the island greeting some ladies at a nursing home using only Greek to communicate.

We even sang to them in Greek-- well, Elder Christensen and I did a lot of humming of the familiar Christmas Caroles. There were 16 young elders, 2 sisters and 4 couples, including the mission president and his sweet wife. Hopefully we brought some joy to these wonderful older people.

 You can see how much joy Elder Christensen is bringing to this fine Cypriot lady. At least he was having fun!

 Some of the GREAT missionaries!

The young missionaries even provided some great food for the Zone Christmas Party, with a little help from the senior couples.  The day was wonderful as we arrived early and stayed late. Not only did we get to do service, but had lots of instruction and fun.  Elder Christensen and I were pretty tired when we finally let the last elders off at their apartment at 10:30 PM.  We LOVE our mission!       

Here are a few more pictures just for the grandkids!

You all know I love cats!  Here is a stray that looked fairly clean, so I had to try to convert him.  You can see the Book of Mormon in my hand.

I didn't have any milk, but I nice lady gave me a piece of salami (meat) so I could symbolicly convert this cat to me and the gospel.  That is really the way the Lord wants us to teach these fine Cypriots, gently guiding them with love and kindness to feast for themselves on the  goodness of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

My first convert!  No I won't baptize him as I did all those kittens when I was five years old!  I love each one of you 34 amazing grandchildren, and hope you all have a wonderful Christmas! 
Love, Grandma (and Grandpa) Christensen.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Cyprus is Where It's At!

My first friends in Cyprus!  Rosie and Rumi are from Bulgaria and moved to Cyprus just two months ago. We had a fun Saturday afternoon doing a service project at the branch president's house. His cute little wife is on the left and they are expecting their first child in two weeks.  Great converts and great cooks! 

The elders take a minute to pet the dog before beginning to haul at least a ton of white rocks to the back yard for landscaping.  We gave out long before they did.  Wonderful young men!!

 Elder Christensen and Mario trying to fixure out the watering system.  The beautiful Mediterranean Sea is in the back ground.
 A romantic moment for Mario and sweet Rumi. Their property ends at this field that borders the sea--so, so beautiful! The couple and the Mediterranean Sea.
 Our first Sunday at church brought us lots of joy with so many Phillipean sisters who work here and send all their money home to their families.  They only have Sundays off and they spend three hours with the branch.  They speak broken English and the amazing unspoken language of the Spirit of the gospel of Jesus Christ.   We love them already. Vanentin, another Bulgarian, is pictured with them also and is 2nd councilor in the branch presidency.
 Elder Christensen at Larnaca Bay with the British Navel Station in the distance.

As we drive through the countryside, we discover little villages and picturesque settings. Cyprus is dry most of the year and has many of mountains--Troas Mountains, I believe.
This is a small, but typical Orthodox Church that seems to frequent every cornor. They invited us in to attend Mass or just to look around. We did attend in the church next to our apartment.  It was amazingly huge and ornate with many older Cypriots attending. Their traditions (Greek Orthodox) are so strong here that it makes one wonder what could ever break that huge barrior to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  We are praying for a miracle.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Leaving Provo and arriving Cyprus!

 We had a great tutor at the MTC.  Craig Meister really inspired us to at least try to understand Greek and speak it enough to get around in Cyprus.
 We went with Forrest, Bryan, Lawrence and wives to a great little restaurant in Provo called El Salvadors--delicioso and cheep!

 My brother Bryan gave us some tickets to attend the BYU basketball game the day we left the MTC.  Here are Brian and Michelle in the Delta Center enjoying a Cougar victory with us.
 Temple Square is the perfect place to visit before going off on a mission for the Lord.
My brother Dennis has twin grandsons, Carter and Parker, who were at Uncle Lawrence's house on Sunday night for a family party with their parents.  Hope I am not making you too jealous, Denny!

 Amelia and her husband along with lots of neices and nephews and their adorable babies were also at Lawrence for the delicious feast!

Proud Daddy.

It was sad to leave these two newlyweds and travel the next morning, Monday Dec. 5 to Chicago, London and then on to Larnaca Cyprus. We arrived there on Tuesday the 6th, very tired and with no troubles--14 hours in the air, 18 with layovers.

 In Larnaca airport with too much stuff!
 Our great welcoming committee, Elder and Sister Maxwell, the Niebehrs and Smiths--all couples serving in different branches in Cyprus. They were all so, so good to us.
We had fun talking to our first Cypriots (pronouced sip pre etts) our landlady and her son!  They taught us a lot of Greek we didn't learn in the MTC! Nice people, but very strong Orthodox.

Our wonderful district: Elders Norgarrd (district leader), Rahal, DeMeyers and Held (ZL) with Virgil in our apartment.  Elder Psota (ZL) was on an exchange. We will love working with them and helping to bring those the Lord has prepared to "Come unto Christ!"