Wednesday, July 31, 2013

And There He Goes...

The MTC--the same day as Mamma Sherri's birthday.

And, just like Brian received his call the date before Katie received her call, he entered the MTC the date before she did. :)

We weren’t quite finished packing when it was time to get ready for the setting apart, but we finished it after we got home. Wednesday morning while Brian was fixing breakfast Michelle was stuffing tiny notes all throughout his luggage. Nikki remembered that she had done that for Katie and asked if she did that for Brian. We suspect that she is expecting that same thing when she goes on her mission….

Wednesday morning before we left, Martin gave Brian a sweet father’s blessing. The stake president counseled us to record it and transcribe it. Then we are to send it to him when the time is right—the spirit will whisper.

Martin, Dennis, Nikki, and Michelle drove with Brian to the MTC. We arrived in Provo with time to spare, so we stopped at Dairy Queen and bought blizzards.

We drove to the parking lot west of the Provo Temple and stopped to say our good byes. The street in front of the MTC was torn up, and the sign “Missionary Training Center” was removed. So, we didn’t go there to take pictures. We just stayed in the shade at the parking lot.

As we drove into the MTC parking lot, we were greeted by cheers, smiles, and waves from current missionaries. It was so wonderful to see their cheerful welcome. It made it much easier to say our final goodbye. But, Michelle must admit, by the time we dropped Brian off, he was certainly ready to go!

After we left Brian, we drove to the Provo City Center Temple to look at its construction. There we found a quiet place to sit and each write Brian a letter.

What a great blessing in our lives to have two missionaries out at the same time!! We are Kingdom Builders. As our stake president, Cory Hanks so often says, “It’s not what we do, it’s who we are!”

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Elder Brian Ross Christensen, Full-Time Missionary

Elder Brian Ross Christensen, set apart as a full-time missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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Tuesday night before we went to the stake center, Grandma and Grandpa Bevan came over a little early. A week or so ago, I had the impression that Brian needed to receive a grandfather’s blessing from Grandpa. After all, Brian’s middle name is Ross. Brian liked that idea, so they came over early and did that. It was sweet and set the tone for the rest of the evening.

What a powerful evening we had! All three sets of grandparents were there as well as Brian’s entire immediate family minus one, Katie. Actually, Michelle is sure she was present in spirit and positive that Mama Sherri was there, too. So, yes, Brian’s entire immediate family!!

President Hanks started the meeting by telling us that he was going to related to us something he’s never said to any other missionary. He then proceeded with his story. His son Jordan was called to serve in Russia. He was in the MTC after Adam was there, and knowing what I know about Adam, I assume that Jordan spent 11 weeks in the MTC just like Adam. The weekend before Jordan was to leave the MTC, President Hanks was taken to the hospital for a biopsy of his colon. They were afraid he had colon cancer. While he was in the hospital, President Morgan made the call to the MTC to tell MTC president about the tests and the possible diagnosis. The MTC president relayed the message to Jordan.

President Cory F. Hanks, Elder Brian R. Christensen,
and Bishop Steven L. Thueson
The biopsy didn’t come back for about five days. Jordan packed, left the MTC, and called home from the airport all before the biopsy result were returned. He left the country not knowing whether or not his dad had cancer. As it turned out, the results finally came back that President Hanks did have cancer.

Coupled with the worry of cancer, President and Sister Hanks worried about Jordan. They worried how Jordan would react to the news, how it would impact him, how it would impact his missionary work. They worried that he would worry about his dad. They prayed and gathered faith and courage. In the end, President Hanks was operated on and the cancer was removed. That was several years ago, and he is doing well right now.

President Hanks looked at Brian and testified to him that the Lord was in control. He knew the struggles Brian would be facing, leaving his father without knowledge of what might happen, especially since Martin had been in the hospital a mere two days ago. He knew that we would worry about Brian and that Brian would worry about Martin. He testified that Brian was called at this very time for his mission, in spite of all the health trials facing our family at home. He testified that the Lord was in control of Martin, and that all would go according to God’s plan. It was Brian’s job to gather faith and trust in the Lord.

Back: Adam, Martin, Brian, Will, Stephanie
Front: Anna, Dennis, Michelle, Nikki
After that, President Hanks took quite a while to celebrate the gospel strength of Brian’s family. He was almost in awe to see three sets of faithful grandparents there—all of them who love the Lord and have passed that along to their families. At one point, he asked each of the grandparents to figure out how many direct descendants they have who serve a mission. Then, if you add in the fact that most of the descendants married RMs, it is staggering how much strength our family has for building God’s kingdom on earth. Then he asked each returned missionary (and the mother, Michelle, who isn’t an RM) to give one—only one—piece of advice for Brian.

His setting apart was beautiful! The spirit was really sweet and strong.

Grandpa and Grandma Christensen with Brian

Grandpa and Grandma Bevan with Brian

Grandpa and Grandma Dennis with Brian

Martin, Brian, Michelle

Christensen Men: Martin, Adam, Dennis, Brian, William