A Little History:
Our story begins in Pocatello, Idaho, circa 1972, when the lovely Debby Christensen agreed to a first, though fateful date with admirer, David Croshaw. Long story-short, he bade her follow him, and they went arm-in-arm to the Logan, Utah temple for establishment of an eternal family unit, Generation 1, on May 23 1973.

From their first blissful summer in Salt Lake City, educational pursuits took them to Provo/Orem, Utah, birthplace of Leslie and Rebecca, and to San Francisco/Oakland California, birthplace of Colin and Matt. Then, for establishment of livelihood, expansion of the tribe with Abby and Dana, and for raising/unifying of Generation 2, it was back to the roots in Pocatello for a rewarding sojourn.

In time, driven by a raging, but commonly shared sense of adventure and independence, one-by-one, Generation 2 escaped the homeland to distant regions of the country and the world, each ultimately developing their own tribal expansions by pairing with worthy mates and initiating Generation 3.

Now sensing fulfillment of their purpose in Pocatello, Generation 1 has also left those roots and transplanted to Cascade Idaho, from which base, they anticipate more abundant contact with The Posterity, Generations 2 and 3, in the future. That contact however, awaits fulfillment of a call to LDS missionary service in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, wherein they hope to help the state of the world by sharing the love of Jesus Christ.

So now, including Generation 0 (Grandma and Grandpa Christensen) home base includes Yuma, Arizona, Pocatello, Idaho, Cascade, Idaho, Vancouver, BC, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Spokane, Washington, Boise, Idaho, Los Angeles, California, back to Boise, Idaho, and on and on (Generation 3+) to infinity.

Our Mission Statement:
This is the blog of our eternal family unit. Initiated years ago, it served well as a journal, but even more so, as an archive of our personal interaction. It was a gathering place, a confabulation instrument, a unifying force for four generations of widely dispersed and progressively prolific posterity, and their valued associates. Though it served these purposes well for many years, it eventually took a back seat to new-kids-on-the-block, Facebook, and Instagram, and was sadly forgotten.

We now move to resurrect this blog with an added functional purpose of archiving the missionary experiences of Generation 1, of their movements and activities as they participate with The Gathering of Israel in the land northward. In so doing, we hope that via their own comments and posts, this blog will again serve to gather and unify the posterity and their friends.

As in the past, that the young and vibrant may know the old and tired, that enduring bonds may be fostered and maintained, that experience and encouragement may be openly shared, that posterity may embrace truth, and that hearts may be knit together, we must resist detachment despite our geographic divergence. We shall do so here.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Another Day in Paradise

Last week, senior office missionary couples,  Croshaws and Spuhlers took a little p-day field trip on the ferry to Vancouver Island, to spend a little time with MLS (member and leader supporter) missionary couple, the Snars, who live in Sidney, home of the ferry port.  As island residents, they know their way around and have a few connections...
...such as this great, little member family, who have a beautiful home near Victoria.  Knowing we were coming, they invited us into their home, fed us breakfast and serenaded us in perfect harmony. This "photo" is the still of a video that I could not get to upload, featuring one three songs the favored us with.  I wish I could share their music with you --  it was a highlight of our day.  We are told that this family of Mom, Dad, and five beautiful girls (one set twins) performs routinely for firesides and other island events, as a way to serve others and share their testimonies.  They also open their home often for missionary activities.

After that bit of fulfillment, we were off to tour the island, including visits to a few other members and investigators, several of the First Nation (Indian) reservations, a great ice cream parlor...

...and Butchart Gardens, our second tour this month.  Never get tired of it.  Here, Sisters Spuhler, Croshaw, and Snar, are right in their element with all the other beautiful flowers.

Elder Snar, Elder Croshaw, and Elder Spuhler, sharing the love.

Abundant flowers and green stuff of every kind.  In spite of a present drought and water restrictions, the Gardens, being the major tourist attraction for the island, are allowed to water as much as needed.

Even a little purple stuff.

We ended the day back in Sidney to board the ferry back to the mainland.  It was a very fulfilling and rejuvenating day

Friday, July 10, 2015


Earlier this week I went teaching with the Richmond Sisters—Shahamati (from Canada, Iranian heritage) and Mathialagan (from India).  We went to visit Cindy, a woman from mainland China.  We have been meeting with her for a long time, and a couple of months ago we were going to ‘reflect’ her.  That is the nice new missionary word for dropping them.  This was my second lesson with her, and I was pretty nervous, never being part of a ‘reflecting’ lesson.  By the time the lesson was over, it was clear that they should not reflect her.  So, we have persisted.  The lessons have been sporadic, and the Sisters teaching has changed as well.  I even texted her myself once just to see how she was doing.  Her husband left for China about 2 months ago, to work their business.  He will be there for an extended period of time. She has a lot of responsibility because she works and has two young sons 12 and 5.  It is understandably difficult handling all of this by herself.  They are in contact fairly often with FaceTime.  A couple of weeks ago I went to another lesson, this time with Shahamati and Gamble and McKee (the Sister Training Leader).  It was a good lesson, but we never seem to make much progress.  When we would try to talk to her about God, she tells us—I say ‘tells us’ because she has told us this same thing many times- that she feels like she has to do everything on her own.  If anything gets done, it has to be done by her, no one helps her, she does not feel like God is there helping her, she is alone in her duties and responsibilities.  It’s really sad to me that she feels like this.  I suggested that we do everything we can, and the Lord magnifies our efforts and we are able to do much more than we really could do all by ourselves.  This effort was to no avail.  She has maintained that she does it all by herself.  After the lesson, Sister McKee suggested that they turn her over to the Chinese-speaking Sisters.  They both speak English, but for the times when she just can’t quite describe how she feels, or does not really understand what the sisters are teaching her, the Chinese sisters could communicate with her in her native tongue.  I felt at the time like that was pure inspiration.  It was what Cindy needed.  So that was the new plan.

When we went last night, I went in with Shahamati and Mathialagan.  They were there for about 10 minutes, and the Chinese sisters arrived—Sister Yeung (Hong Kong) and Sister Edvalson (American Fork—adopted from China).  Then Sisters Shahamati and Mathialagan left.  It was a smooth transition.  We met Cindy’s parents, who have come over from China to help her, and will be here until September 30.  She says she can’t go to church while they are here, but she will come as soon as they leave. 

So we are reading in Alma 32, discussing faith.  Faith is a difficult word to describe, and there is also the language barrier.  She wants to do everything in English, because English is the language of Canada.  The sisters gave her an English and Chinese Book of Mormon, but her husband took the Book of Mormon to China with him on this last trip.  She wants it all to be in English.  So we are talking about faith, and belief in God.  She again brings up that we are all on our own, no one is there to help us, etc.  Sister Edvalson then says to her.  It is like your little boy.  He wants to do things all by himself.  You let him, but you watch over him.  You make sure he is safe.  He continues by himself, but you (Cindy) are there, and she holds her hand out with her palms up, showing how Cindy would be ready to catch him if he were to fall.  Then, she compares this experience to the way our Heavenly Father watches over us.  He watches us as we perform our tasks.  He is there, even if we don’t’ know.  He is standing by, and is ready to catch us if we fall.  It was the most amazing thing.  I saw the understanding come into Cindy’s eyes.  She got it!  She said, I heard what you said and I am happy.   It was soon time for us to go, and she asked them to leave her an assignment, like a teacher.  They asked her to continue reading Alma 32, but she said it is too big.  So Sister Edvalson suggested verses 27-29 and verses 42-43.  Then she said, why don’t we read it together in Chinese, then when you are studying it during the week, you can read it in English.  Cindy agreed, and read it herself.  It was brilliant.  Cindy was a different person.  She suggested that we meet next week at the same time.  She was the one suggesting when we meet.  It felt like she was finally progressing.   I thought of this scripture:

D and C 90:11 - For it shall come to pass in that day, that every an shall hear the fullness of the gospel in his own tongue, and in his own language, through those who are ordained unto this power, by the administration of the Comforter, shed forth upon them for the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Hearing the gospel in her own language made all the difference.  I don’t’ know where things will go from here, but it was a breakthrough.   The church is true.  These young missionaries are so inspired.  Loving life in Canada.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Some Quality BC Time with Esparzas

The Esparza segment of the posterity (Leslie, Alex, Lola, Mila, and Yet-Unborn Baby Girl,) visited BC last week, and we spent some quality time in some beautiful places here in the Vancouver area, most of which was recorded in pictures.  I had a plan for an organized post that would thoroughly explain it all, so organized that I was not finding time to get it posted.  So, Debby took the bull by the horns and just posted all the photos from my phone, leaving the rhetoric to me. So, it may not be organized, but it will be complete - long (lots of photos,) but I'll try to keep the verbage to a minimum

On the first day, before Alex arrived (separate flight,) Mom and Grandma went for a pedicure, So Grandpa got to take the girls for a while.  We picked up A&W (big up here) burgers and poutine (Canadian french fries-with Mozerella cheeze and gravy,) and went to a park.  Here's  Mila begging for more poutine.
Lola just wanted to play in the gravel and on the toys, in what we thought was a park, but turned out to be the playground of a school, which soon let out for recess.  We were thronged by young Chinese kids who were very interested in these two little light-skinned girls.  So, I started taking pictures of them together, and it wasn't long before a teacher was right there, advising us in no uncertain terms, that we could not be there and I could not take photos.  So we had to leave, Grandpa feeling like some kind of perv.

Next day, after Papa Alex arrived, we boarded a ferry bound for Vancouver Island...

...and there, we took a little stroll through the Garden of Eden, aka Butchart Gardens...

Something about this place makes you want to push a stroller under a flowering arch.

Lola seems right at home here in Heaven

Even though this is almost as far away as they can get from their S. Florida home, and still be in the North American Mainland, they all acclimated well to Pacific air and time zone.

Mila, however, missed pretty much the whole garden, as she had better things to do.

If we are in Heaven, where does this stairway lead??

A single stock from the ground provides all this green stuff.  Wish it worked that way back in our arid Idaho desert home.

Looking across Victoria harbor at the Empress Hotel

Red double-decker tour buses - a little taste of London, here in British Columbia.

This is how you know it is not London - the Totem pole on the lawn of the provincial government building is from the Haida First Nation (Indian) tribe.  Even though it is on an Island, Victoria is the capital city of BC.

Back over on the mainland, you  can hop on this carriage and ride all over Stanley Park in Vancouver

Looking across the harbor from Stanley Park at part of the Vancouver skyline

Part of our walk through Stanley Park involved this little train game, so we wouldn't get lost in the woods (Lola's idea.)

Just putting dogs on notice that the Canadian geese militantly own this park.  They hardly get out of the way for humans, unless you have a shotgun in your hands.

Down on the beach, however, this dog had other things to chase.

Speaking of dogs, it's not all fun and games, and the park police are not kidding. $2,000! - mortgage the house, sell the kids.

Lawn Bowling anyone?  Sorry, members only.
The sun lovers of Vancouver.  Problem is, the water is anything but warm this far north.

Back at home, in the park across the street from our apartment, these girls love to swing.

Waiting to head back to the US, Mila, annoyed by the bustling traffic on the street,
gave them a piece of her mind.  Bye bye Esparzas.

  So, we've now had visits from VanderLouws and Esparzas, and we look forward to the Colin Croshaws in August, Delgadillos in September, Chipman's in November(?), the Matt Croshaw's whenever they can, and to friends in between.  Life is good. Our work is fulfilling and we are happy.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Eight days until Canada Day!

We work with a couple in the office from Utah-the Spuhlers.  They have a daughter-in-law from Brazil.  She recently returned to Brazil for about a month to spend time with her Father.  He is very ill, not expected to live much longer.  When she first decided to go her passport had expired, so it took her a while to make all the arrangements to get to Brazil.  She did make it on time, and was able to spend lots of time with her Father.  When she had been there over two weeks, she realized she wanted her Father to get a blessing, so she started looking for the local branch/ward.  She found a ward page on Facebook.  She sent a message to them and explained her situation and asked if someone could come and give her Father a blessing.  Within five minutes, someone had responded.  It was the first counselor, and he told her he would come over right after work.  He did come, driving all the way across the city.  He stopped at home, and changed into his suit.  He sat down with her father, and asked him what he wanted to know.  He told him he would answer any questions he had.  They talked for a long time. This man was able to talk to him not as a young elder might have been able to.  Finally he gave this man, who a few hours before had been a stranger, a blessing.  It was a very sweet blessing.  The man's wife was weeping so much that she had to leave the room.  As he left, he told him he would be back.

Sister Spuhler's daughter found the location of the ward and the following Sunday went to church.  She was warmly greeted by the members, who knew of her situation, not realizing how much she had missed her own ward family.

We often talk about being a world wide church.  No matter where we go we will hear the same lessons, go through the same process for meetings and ordinances.  It is all familiar to us.  But, we also have perhaps an even greater blessing to be surrounded by disciples of Jesus Christ, who are often ready and willing to extend love, comfort and support.  We are so blessed to be part of this world wide group of caring, loving individuals, who genuinely care about their brothers and sisters.

Sunday afternoon we taught a young woman from Japan, and another young woman from Korea.  Following this, we went to teach a man, Prince, from Ghana.  He came here via Ohio, where he earned a Master's in Public Health.  He is now getting his PhD,at UBC and hopes to work for the United Nations to help others countries with food/health related issues.  His fiancee is in Sandusky.  David mentioned that that's where that movie with Chris Farley was based.  It  didn't appear that the elders of the investigator knew about Tommy Boy.  Anyway, it was an inspiring lesson, and he sincerely wants to find truth.  I felt his sincerity.  However, it is sometimes so difficult to make the changes that truth requires in our lives.  I hope he has the strength to make those changes.  He is a really, really nice guy.  The missionaries made a follow up appointment.  We are praying for him.

Warm weather in British Columbia.  They need some rain.  Lawns are turning brown.  The strawberries came on early, and didn't last too long. The fresh fruit here is so delicious.  One other thing--they don't do pennies in BC.  If you have credit or debit charges, they do pennies, but you don't get them in change.  They just round up or down.  Leslie, Lola and Mila come tomorrow.  Alex  comes the next day.  We are going to the island on Friday.  This is transfer week.  Lots of changes as your former missionaries know--sadness seeing missionaries go home, but lots of excitement as the new missionaries arrive.  Life is good.  The church is true.  Jesus Christ has all the answers.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Some of our recent teaching experiences (photos below) have uniquely brought to mind, a passage of New Testament scripture, which accounts for the world-wide characteristic of today's Christianity.  Subsequent to the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ, He had conferred the Holy Ghost upon His Apostles and commanded them to feed His sheep.  They proceeded to do so, traveling about Israel, sharing the good news of His gospel and seeking converts only among the Jews, as those outside the Abrahamic covenant (Gentiles,) were considered to be unworthy, unclean. The Apostles so proselyted in the face of peril, as Israel was ruled at the time by Rome, which was not tolerant of this new religion and its leaders.

In the tenth chapter of Acts, we read of an event which would become the tipping point, where, by the will of God, His Church would leave the tight confines of Israel and advance into the world, to become available to all mankind.

This episode starts in Caesarea, as a certain Roman Centurion named Cornelius, a devout, God-fearing man, who was kind to the poor and prayed to God always, was visited by an angel and told that his "alms [had] come up for a memorial before God."  Therefore, he was to send men to Joppa (on the Mediterranean coast - about 33 miles distance, or a couple of days journey by chariot) and seek out a man named Peter who would give him advice, who was the senior Apostle, the president and prophet of the new Church of Christ.  Cornelius immediately complied by sending an  entourage of trusted soldiers to Joppa.

Meanwhile, the next day, Peter, while praying on the roof of his dwelling, became very hungry and fell into a "trance", or vision, where he saw a vessel descend from heaven, wherein were all manner for four footed beasts and creeping things, and a voice said to him, "Rise, Peter; kill and eat," to which Peter answered, "Not so Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean." [This reflected Peter's strict adherence to the  restrictive Jewish health code of the day that precluded the eating various kinds of meat from certain hoofed and wild animals.]

To Peter's refusal, the Voice then said, "What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common."  This exchange occurred three times, and then the vessel was taken back up into heaven.  As Peter awoke from this vision, and queried what it might mean, Cornelius's men arrived at the gate of his residence and the Spirit told him that three men sought him, and that he was to go with them.  Without that spiritual direction, Peter may have been reluctant to go with them, seeing that he and his followers faced persecution at the hands of the Romans.  However, because of the Spirit's direction and the mens' explanation, he readily went with them to the house of Cornelius.

Meanwhile, Cornelius had called together all his kinsmen and friends ("many,") awaiting Peter's arrival.  As Peter approached, Cornelius went out to meet him, and fell at his feet and worshiped him.  Peter took him up saying, "Stand up; I myself also am a man."  And then, seemingly now comprehending the meaning of his earlier vision, he said to them, "Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath showed me that I should not call any man common or unclean."  Cornelius said to him, "We [are all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God."

Then, Peter said, "Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:  But in every nation he that feareth him and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him."  (We are all His children, and He loves us all equally.  He desires that we all know His saving gospel.)

Then he proceeded to enumerate the gospel message (first principles and ordinances, the atonement) to this gathering, as do our missionaries today: "The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all:) That word, I say, ye know, which was published thoughout Judaea, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached; How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.  And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree:  Him God raised up the third day, and showed him openly; Not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before of God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead.  And he commanded us to preach unto the people and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead.  To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins."

As Peter so taught by the Spirit, "the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard his word.  And they of the circumcision (Jews,) as many as came with Peter, were astonished, because that on the Gentiles also, was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost."  And Peter said, "Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?"  And thus, Cornelius and his house became the first Gentiles to be baptized as Christians.

This area of the world, British Columbia, has become an expansive melting pot of the world, accepting immigrants of virtually any nationality.  A few weeks ago, while sitting in a park with we observed Korean Elders Kim (full-blood Korean born in Korea, raised in Boise) and Murray (half Korean, half Caucasian,) teach in English, two attentive Buddhist women from Tibet, who like Cornelius are good, God-fearing people, but who had no prior concept of Jesus Christ and His gospel.  They talked of good and bad karma, reincarnation, etc., but I believe they were impressed when Elder Murray told them that the atonement of Jesus Christ could take away their bad karma, and provide them immortality through resurrection.  They agreed to a follow-up appointment to learn more.

Earlier that week, we had helped teach a man from Iran who announced that it was time for him to become a Christian, that he had read the Farsi Book of Mormon in two days, and that he knew it to be true.  He was particularly impressed with the kindness and gentility of the gospel of Jesus Christ. (p.s. he decided not to be baptized because of the safety of his sisters.)

Later in the week, we helped Elders Okamoto and Porter teach a Korean woman who had become discouraged by divorce and single parenthood, who felt that she had lost her way, that she needed something sound to give her confidence to move forward.  I believe she has found it in the attentive teaching of Elders Okamoto and Porter.

Debby has recently taken on the responsibility of teaching an ESL (English as a Second Language) class twice a week at the mission office.  Most of the class members are Chinese (Richmond, BC is more than 70% Chinese), and some have no English skills.  One of the class members is currently also being taught the message of Christ in her own language by young missionaries.  We have been blessed to observe some of that activity as well.

Just last week, again with Korean Elders Kim and Murray, in the same park as before,...
we had opportunity to help share the gospel message with two asian roommates, one from Japan and the other from Korea.

Obviously intelligent and bright-eyed, neither of them had any firm religious affiliation.  We'll see where that goes.

Last week on a visit to Kelowna, in the Okanagan interior of BC, we spent some quality time with Elders Huni, Davis, and Ortiz.  They readily express confidence in their knowledge of the true gospel as they approach anyone who will listen and excitedly share the message.  The mission goes through many boxes of pass-along cards every month.

They can also go through a lot of food, and are always happy to have visits from senior couple missionaries who are willing to feed them.

Last month, we had the unique experience of attending a Korean wedding where this beautiful young woman, born and raised in the Church, married this dynamic young man who is a recent convert.  They were married in typical western dress (gown and tuxedo,) but donned this traditional Korean garb out of respect for their elders.  They anticipate a trip the the temple in about a year.

There are many devout Sikh and Hindu followers in this area, mostly from India.  Our landlords are such, and we have found them to be very kind, family oriented people.  Not many from this group have accepted the gospel of Christ, but in time, it will happen.

Back in the park with Elders Kim and Murray, we are impressed with their passion for spreading the word.  Every spare minute is filled with efforts to find new investigators.  

They are confident in the truth and the eternal benefits of the message, and do all they can to invite others to come unto Christ.

As we associate with the established Korean Branch of the Church here, we become the recipients of many a feast at the hands of these good people who love one another and do all they can to associate with others who love the Lord.

These two young ladies are native Chinese speakers, Sister Yeung on the right, from Hong Kong, and Sister Tsai on tthe left, from Taiwan.  They are very faithful and work so hard to bring the gospel of Christ to their people here in British Columbia.

This is a photo of a photo of a tribal gathering of Haida Indians the "First Nation" or original natives of coastal British Columbia.  They primarily subsist on an island off the BC coast, called Haida Gwaii.  They are well known as Totem carvers, using the abundant giant red cedar trees as their canvas.  There is a branch of the Church presently on Haida Gwaii.

These senior couple missionaries are listening to English translation of the spoken word in the Korean Branch Sacrament meeting we attend each week.  In spite of our language barrier, those resourceful and tech-savvy Korean people have got us covered.  There is no question in our minds that they love us as a brother and sister, as we love them.

How great is it that God is no respecter of persons?  That He loves us all equally, from every nation.  How great is it that 2,000 years ago, through the Apostle Peter, he opened the gate and provided the way for all of us Gentiles to hear His word, to receive an opportunity through the Atonement of His Son, to find our way back to Him?  We are all brothers and sisters in His eternal family.  He desires that we might all pass the test and return to Him. 

Thursday, June 4, 2015

ESL Class

These are three of the people in my ESL class.  On the left is Peng Fei.  She speaks almost no English.  On the right is Samuel.  His wife Viviana is in the second picture.  They both speak quite good English.  They help me translate for Fei.  Fei is a recent convert.  They are all from mainland China.  Very, very nice people.

Another missionaries experience

 Yesterday I went to a zone meeting. I sat by one of the zone leaders. He started telling us about an experience he had at metro town. This is a huge shopping  center, sky train station in Burnaby.   He said the security guards have been giving them a really bad time lately, telling them they are making people uncomfortable and they need to stop. Then he said last week they started to walk into the mall and a security guard spotted them and came right over. He told the elders that they could no longer come to the mall and they needed to leave right then.  They were shocked. They asked him what had happened. He told the elders there had been many complaints. People reported feeling threatened and harassed. They asked to talk to his supervisor but he said he wasn't available. At that moment-terrible timing-a man came up to the security guard and started complaining about missionaries who wouldn't leave him alone. After the guy left, the missionaries again asked to see the supervisor. At this point I am feeling great anxiety, thinking how much I would hate to be in this confrontational situation. I am getting more and more uncomfortable with each sentence. The elder said he did t know what they would do if they couldn't go to metro town.  They park there, ear there, find there. He was very concerned. He didn't say it, but I am sure both of them were praying for divine intervention. They finally convinced the security guard to let them talk to his supervisor. They went to the office and the security guard was in the supervisor's office a long time. When the supervisor finally came out he told the missionaries that they could not prevent them from coming into the mall. I can't remember all he said, but essentially told them the security guards had no power to stop them from entering the mall any more. They were so relieved. They felt like, and I believe too, that it was a miracle. I have also had times, especially  driving when I have totally been protected. I always pray for safety when we travel.  It reminds me of when Les was on her mission she said she felt protected by angels. This is a sacred work we are involved in. The gospel of Jesus Christ really is the good news for the world. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Donna's Note

This was on the red (not Toyota) I mentioned in the previous post. So glad we could help. 

Monday, May 18, 2015

Miracles still happen today.

May 18, 2015

A couple of events in the last two weeks.

A mental health worker called our office one day last week.  She proceeded to tell me the story of a woman she works with who went to get her license renewed, failed the test, and was not able to drive her car home.  First of all, I have no idea how she got our number.  As she was telling me the details I asked, “Are you a member of our church?”  No.  “Is this woman a member of our church?”  No.  Oh.  Anyway, her car was in a mall parking lot, not too far from us, and could we please help her.  I thought for a second or two, tried to get a few more details, then told her we could pick it up and drive it to our church parking lot, and someone going in that direction could drive it home.  She told me she would bring the car keys to me.  She gave me the woman’s  her address and telephone number (it was incorrect).  She said it was a red Toyota, older model, parked in a handicap spot at the Landsdowne Mall.  It got later and later in the day, so I looked up this address, and decided David and I could go pick it up, and just drive it to her home.  We drove to the mall, and quickly discovered that there didn’t seem to be any red Toyotas in the lot, and certainly not in any handicap parking spaces.  So, we started stopping by red cars and David got out to see if the key worked.  I tried to park to kind of cover him up, in case the owner might walk up and have Elder Croshaw arrested for attempted breaking and entering, or some other serious lawlessness.  We only tried this on two or three cars, though.

After the first car, he told me that it was NOT a Toyota.  The keys were to a GM car.  So we altered our search.  Instead of going back, we continued around the mall, and eventually saw a red car (Chevy), older model in a handicapped parking space.  There was a note on the windshield, asking whoever read it to please not ticket or tow the car because she was trying really hard to find someone to pick up the car and she was on low income.  The key worked, and away we went.  I was trying to remember exactly how to get there, and once we were in Ladner (or maybe it was Delta, not sure), I put the address in my GPS.  Didn’t work.  So on we drove, and eventually found the apartment building.

An older lady (later she told me she was 94—a very spry 94!) was taking out her garbage and when asked, told me there was a Donna in the apartment, but she didn’t know her last name.  I found the name on the list of residents outside, and this nice lady let me in.  I went up to Donna Penner’s room and knocked.  I had to knock several times, but eventually she came to the door.  Once she understood when I was telling her, she started looking for her keys.  Her thinking was a little fuzzy, and her legs were swollen because she had walked to the store.  She told me about her legs, not her fuzziness.  Donna has long blonde hair with very dark black roots—indeterminate age.  After five minutes or so, she found her keys, and slipped on some pink flip flops.  We went outside and she showed Elder Croshaw where to park her car.  I offered her an lds.org card, and asked her if she believed in Jesus Christ.  She said yes, she used to go to church all the time.  Elder Croshaw, the good missionary he is, asked her if we could send missionaries.  She said yes.  She thanked us several times, and soon she was safely back inside the building and we were on our way home. 

The sisters had an appointment with her, but she wasn't there.  They will keep trying.  As I said, she was a little fuzzy, I think from medication—not a judgment, just an observation.  Hopefully the missionaries will be able to meet up with her some time.  She was quite nice.  As they told us, I think in the MTC, we cannot tell by outward appearance who will accept the Gospel and who will not.  We hope Donna will be receptive, but it was a fun adventure for, anyway.

Also last week, I sat in on the missionary lesson of a lifetime--the miracle part.  I don’t expect to have an experience like this again on my mission.  I had gone to another lesson with Sharom (or Shaun his Canadian name) and at the first lesson everything the missionaries told him he would say, I believe that.  This was unusual, because he is Muslim, from Iran.  His parents, however, raised him with very Christian values, and taught him about the Savior.  Anyway, at lesson #2 for me, we sat down and I think Elder Briscoe asked him a question, and he was off and running.  He told us he had read the Book of Mormon in two days.  He would have finished it in one day, but his head hurt so much at 1:30 a.m. that he had to stop reading.  He said as he read it he felt like he was there with the people in the Book of Mormon.  He believed everything he read.  He knew it was true.  He is ready to be a Christian and follow Jesus Christ for the rest of his life.  He told us the only time in his life he remembers crying was when he parents died, but as he was reading the Book of Mormon he had tears flowing out of his eyes.  I really did think of Parley P. Pratt as he was telling this to us.

He also told us that he has visited many churches, but when he entered this building, it felt different.  He knew this was where he wanted to be.  All his life he has tried to do things that he knows Jesus would want him to do.  He feels that God has been watching out for him.  He talked for about 10 minutes, so I am leaving a lot out, but Sharom has a baptismal date for June 7.  We went to a baptism last night, and Sharom was there.  If you had seen him, you would not have thought he was an investigator.  In fact, he kind of looks like an Elder’s Quorum President.  Anyway, it was an amazing experience, and I feel so blessed to have been there.  I believe there will be another lesson tomorrow afternoon.  I’m looking forward to it.

Adding something I just remembered.  When I was in my first lesson with Sharom, Elder Briscoe was talking about the Book or Mormon, holding it up and describing it to Sharom.  Sharom leans forward and says, can I have that book.  Dream question.  Uh, yes, you can.  I also got her a Farsi translation of the Book of Mormon, as well.  That is the one he read in two days.  On with the story.

Just to give a little idea of his humble, teachable nature, he had previously told us that he had a serious back injury.  The week of this lesson, he had an appointment with a Dr. for his back.  He had tried several medications, but did not like the way they made him feel.  Then, at this lesson, Elder Hohneke taught him about the word of wisdom, and Sharom asked if he could take liquid marijuana for his back.  He told us that his Dr. had recommended it and he was going in the next day.  He said, ( I am paraphrasing)  if you guys tell me that I shouldn't take this, that is against the word of wisdom, I won’t get it.  The Elders told him that it is against the word of wisdom, so that is all it took.  He has a very good spirit, and is willing to do whatever he needs to to join the church. 

Sharom is a miracle.  Investigators like this just don't show up every day.  There really are people out there who are prepared and looking for the truth.  These good missionaries here, and all over the world, in fact,  keep looking for them every day.  

More later.  Becky, Ray and family are coming this week.  Can’t wait to see them.  The Canada Vancouver Mission is a great place to be.  We are happy, and it is still beautiful inside and out.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

From Lori--BCMormons.com--the beginnings of the Vancouver Temple

In the fall of 2005, I was serving as the Abbotsford Stake President. I received a call from a gentleman in Salt Lake City who wanted to come visit with me. He did not disclose the matter he wanted to discuss. We met in Langley and he informed me that he was here to investigate the possibility of building a temple in Vancouver. Together we viewed three possible locations in the area. Three weeks later the same man returned to meet with all three of the local stake presidents. As a group we reviewed and discussed all the possible locations and were informed that President Gordon B. Hinckley, would visit the area to make the final determination.
To prepare the sites for President Hinckley’s visit, I meticulously cleaned the preferred site, levelled the ground and spreading two large trucks of bark chips so the Prophet could walk around safely. To get the best view of the property I brought a man-lift to the site so the prophet could better see the land contours. At 40 feet in the air, I thought he would have a great vantage point. Next, I rented a large van to accommodate everyone traveling with the prophet. I made sure the van was impeccably clean, which led to some curiosity about who was going to be in the van. All I could do was smile as the visit was to be strictly confidential.
I tried to anticipate every need, including umbrellas just in case of rain. I got a backup vehicle so that nothing could disrupt the tour . December 28th, the date of the prophet’s visit, would be my real Christmas. To maintain security and privacy the prophet and company would fly into the smaller Abbotsford airport in a private jet, furnished by a Church member.
When the day finally came, of course it rained, but that didn’t dampen my excitement. The jet pulled up, lowered the stairs and I ran out with umbrellas and escorted the Brethren to the van. President Hinckley sat in the front with me. President Monson sat in the second row seats, accompanied by several other brethren including the Church architect,” . Once seated, President Hinckley gave the word, ‘Let’s go,’ and we were off. I soon realized that I was about to have a 51⁄2 hour interview with the Lord’s prophet. “President Christensen, why do we need a temple in Vancouver?” President Hinckley asked. I responded that I felt the spiritual light of a temple would greatly help in spreading the gospel in the area,” . I also detailed the problems members faced trying to cross the border to attend temples in the States. President Hinckley intently listened.
The search committee had considered 200th Street and the Freeway in Langley the prime site ,and we drove there first. The rain made the road a quagmire. Taking extra precaution, we transferred to a 4×4 van to ensure we could get through the rain-soaked terrain. I had erected a canopy so that our visitors wouldn’t have to stand in the rain. President Hinckley and President Monson examined the property, but instructed the Church architect and one other brother to ascend in the man-lift to take in the birds eye view.
Once back on the road, President Hinckley asked to be taken to a local chapel. I noticed cars in the parking lot as we drove up and advised President Hinckley that if we entered the building there would be no stopping the spread of the news that the Prophet was in Vancouver. President Hinckley said that would be fine and instructed that we proceed. When he and President Monson walked into the gym, the surprised people decorating for a wedding reception, dropped everything and came running to meet the Prophet. After warm greetings, President Hinckley inspected the chapel and then we returned to the van in order to continue our site visits. As we drove up the street to go around the block, President Hinckley looked to his right and declared, ‘That would be a good site for a temple,’’. A very tall hedge of trees on our right side obstructed the view of the property he was referring to so none of the rest of us saw anything. It took me several hundred yards before I realized what had just happened and I brought the van to a stop. I asked President Hinckley if he would like me to back up so we could see the spot he was referring to. “No, just carry on,” the Prophet said.mormon02
“As we drove around the city to view the other sites, I had a chance to talk to President Hinckley,” . I told him about the city and the church in the area. To save time we ate lunch while we drove. President Hinckley opened his box lunch and saw an enormous sandwich. “What am I supposed to do with this?” he exclaimed. “Does anyone have a knife?” No one answered. “I leaned over and advised President Hinckley that he would have to ‘break bread’,” . After a while I became aware of the fact that no one else was joining in our conversation. The others were reverently respecting the prophet’s need to ponder and maintain his focus. Although I had much I wished to discuss, I realized that I should keep quiet as well. During the 5 1⁄2 hour trip the Prophet stayed sharp and perfectly alert. “President Hinckley was truly magnified and given strength to fulfill this most important assignment.
The next day the temple department in Salt Lake City called. “Please get all the information you can get on that property the Prophet identified as a ‘good site’ for a temple,” they said. The property wasn’t one of those being considered nor was it for sale. I went directly to the site. As I walked past the hedge we had driven by, I saw what the Prophet had perceived. I then realized that I had witnessed the Prophet of God exercise his priesthood as a Seer. Nestled in a lovely setting with trees all around, stood a beautiful spot at the peak of the largest hill in the area. It felt like the right place. I took pictures of the area, got information on the property from city hall and sent it to Church headquarters. The next day I received yet another call. “That’s it, find out who owns it and let’s get to work.”
After finalizing the negotiations for the purchase of the several lots that comprised the property, I addressed many of the obstacles to developing that site including the lack of a adequate sewer line, no storm drainage line,a requirement for parkland, necessary school facilities,inadequate roads and a non-conforming zoning. As I struggled to overcome these problems the temple department instructed me to just keep working at it and keep them posted as to my progress. I met many times with the appropriate city officials discussing and reviewing each of the obstacles. Eventually all the problems were resolved and we received “green light” from the city. I have never before seen so many concessions granted on one application.Truly, hearts had been softened by the Spirit. The perfect spot for the Vancouver British Columbia Temple stands witness to a Prophet’s vision and the fulfillment of the Lord’s will.
– Paul Christensen