Monday, November 28, 2016

Last Week of Training

Wow wow wow! Time's moving quick! I can't believe I'm almost done being trained! Livin la vida loca! Haha, but this week had its ups and downs. We're getting people ready for baptism and that's our main focus this week because the noche blanca is this Saturday. Anyway, so at the beginning of the week, we had like 7 baptisms that we were planning on having on the third, then one by one, they started to fall... One of Manuel's kids doesn't have a huge desire to be baptized with his brother and dad. Then on Sunday, half of the people with fechas didn't come to church. That's one of the hardest things here is that people just do not keep the commandment of the Sabbath Day. Sunday was a pretty rough day for my comp and I because we had such high expectations, but they didn't show up. 

We also ended up dropping two recent converts this week. One of them was probably the most frustrating lessons I've ever been in. He told us that he felt like his life was super hard and that he didn't feel like he was being blessed. We told him that the Lord wouldn't give certain blessings if he didn't go to church or pay his tithing, but he argued and we told him what he had to do. There was also another kid who hasn't been going, and each time, it's a new excuse. The thing is, our branch would be FILLED if all of the members in the area attented, but SO many people are inactive... 

So... because our investigators didn't come to church, we now only have 3 baptisms for Saturday. Which is great, and I'm so excited for those who are being baptized, but also super sad for the others. Also, super sad for me, or Elder Garcia, depending on who's transferred because most likely one of us won't be around to see the others baptized. But! The important thing is that they make that covenant eventually. 

My spiritual thought this week is my testimony... I want to let you guys know that the more I share about this gospel, the more I have faith in it. Faith is a principle of action, and the more I act, the more faith I have. But I truly believe in this work. I know that our Father in Heaven is there and that he loves us. I know because I've talked to him. I talk to him every night and every morning. I pour out all of my feelings and thoughts to him. His spirit has been with me here, and I've seen the difference his gospel has made in the lives of people here. I know the book of mormon is true. I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet. I know these things are true, and I wish I could just make people believe. But then It wouldnt be faith. So I'm going to help as many people that are willing to come to gain that faith and knowledge for themselves. I love Christ, I love this gospel, and I love this work.

Love, Elder Anderson

Another letter we received this week in response to some questions I asked:

Thanks for the recipes and for the go ahead on the packages! I am now really excited to open them! So, to answer your questions:

1. My training's going really well. I think one of the toughest things has been realizing that I'm not very experienced and I need to rely on someone else. That was an internal battle for a while, because I'm used to being the one leading, and in charge, but I think I needed to learn some humility. As far as transfers, I feel like I'll probably be the one staying here in San Juan. Which, I'm a little nervous to show someone an area, but I'm sure it'll work out well. 

2. The apartment is great, and the other two Elders are awesome! We have a lot of fun! And! There's another trainee here, who came a transfer after me, so I'm not even the newest Elder in our house, or our district! (Our district is just us 4 in the house)

3. My comp hits 17 months in a few days, so he came in a year and a month before me. When I arrived, he'd been in the area for just a transfer, so he's now been here about 4 and a half months

4. It is a third world country, but I've been surprised by the technology. The majority of people here have cell phones (sometimes pretty nice ones too) even if their house is just a few rooms. There are definitely some poor areas here in San Juan, and it's pretty sad to see. The branch building is pretty small. Just a chapel, and a few rooms. It's like a minute from our house though, so that's super convenient!

5. Like I said, the branch is pretty small. And there are so many inactive members. The branch president's wife is like, 1st counselor in the primary presidency, but she's the only active member, so she has to do everything alone. On average, I'd say we only have like 50 people in the branch on Sundays. 

6. My favorite experience has been our baptisms, and finally seeing the fruits of our labors, or seeing Manuel quit smoking. (He's been smoking for 40 years, and now hasn't smoked in two weeks) Seeing lives change is incredible.

I just want to let you know that I hope your talk went great! I heard good things about it from Dad! I sent you a letter, but I have no idea when it'll get to you. Hopefully by your birthday! I love you mom, and I really can't wait to talk to you on Christmas! Oh, and things are good here!  Don't even worry because I know that I'm being obedient, and I know that's the key to happiness. Love, Elder Anderson

Monday, November 21, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving

Hey hey! How's it going? Hope this week was great for everyone! For me it was pretty similar to most weeks here. Just been working hard every day from sun up to sun down! Not much happened this week to be honest! We've been working hard with our investigators, and trying to get them ready for their baptismal fechas. They don't celebrate Thanksgiving here, but I'll try to eat a lot of food on Thursday anyway! 

In other news, I went to Haiti today! There was a market going on in a place called Elias Piña, which is on the far west end of the country. So our zone went, then we walked to the border! I stuck my foot under the gate a bunch, so I've basically been to Haiti and back like, 7 times! haha

But anyway, that's about the extent of the news I have for you this week! By the way mom, I got my packages, and it's killing me right now to have to wait to open them! haha, patience is a virtue though! But I'm really excited to see what's inside!! Anyway, have a great week everyone! Love you!

-Elder Anderson

Monday, November 14, 2016

¿Cómo se dice Miracle?

Hey mom! It's been what feels like just a couple days and I'm already emailing again. The weeks pass by pretty quick! This week was as always... really great! Quick story... my comp and I were walking down our normal route to go visit some investigators and Elder Garcia said that he was thirsty, so we went a different way so that we could get some water from a colmado. Well, after that we kept walking, but on a different road than usual. We decided to contact a house there, and the lady there said her husband would be home at 6:00, so later, we came back, and it turns out that there were previous investigators about 6 months ago! They had scriptures, and hymnbooks, and at one point they even had a baptismal date. I think that maybe they weren't ready back then, but the Lord must feel as though they are prepared enough now to give them another opportunity for baptism. It's amazing to see the hand of God in this work.

Man, an experience not as fun happened while on intercambios with Elder Varela from my zone. Well, we were visiting a house in his area and at the end of the lesson, the lady was kind enough to offer us some food. I was pretty hungry, so I gladly accepted. Well, I wished that it had never been offered because I couldn't tell if it was a plate of rice, or a plate of ants! I smiled while eating from the part free of them, while trying to brush off as many as I could. I don't know how many ants I ingested that day, but I know that the number´s pretty high. The worst part is that I finished, and I was feeling like such a good servant of The Lord, being grateful for my ant infested food, and then I started to feel the ants I had brushed off coming back for vengeance, they were all over my arms, and down my back. I tried to get out of that house as soon as I could. I'm pretty sure I can still feel them crawling on my arms. Not fun.

Other than that, this week was fairly uneventful. I gave another talk in sacrament meeting, and I wasn't given a whole lot of notice, so I hope that someone got something out of my terrible, spur of the moment spanish discourse. 

Finally, for my spiritual thought, I'd like to focus on the power of prayer. But not necessarily our formal prayers that we say before meals, at church, or after we get up in the morning, and before we go to bed. I want to talk about the power of a prayer of the heart. Nephi said that ye must pray always, and not faint, that ye must not perform anything unto the Lord save in the first place ye shall pray unto the Father in the name of Christ, that he will consecrate thy performance unto thee, that thy performance may be for the welfare of thy soul.(2 Nephi 32:9) So I've taken that principle to heart this week. Every single time I feel an inkling of anger, or of discouragement, or antything, I say a prayer in my mind and in my heart. Not only has this helped me to feel the spirit always, but it helps me keep my mind focused on my calling, and on who it is that I'm serving. I testify that God will listen to us whenever, and that if you are ever in doubt, the Living God is never more than a prayer away.

I love you all, and I hope this week is great. I hope the U.S. is okay without me there. 

Love, Elder Anderson

Monday, November 7, 2016

Big News!

Well, yesterday was a big day for me, because right after church, we had a baptism, and I was asked to perform the ordinance! It was an amazing experience, and even though I was scared to death that I'd mess up the words in Spanish, I did it! Her name is Anyara, and her older brother was baptized last year, and we've been teaching her ever since we got to San Juan. It was really cool to experience though, and it was one of those moments that I now feel like I'm a real missionary! Like, I'm actually baptizing people! Kind of a cool feeling. We have the noche blanca in December, so we should have at least 4 more baptisms as a companionship at the end of the transfer. Man! Time is flying though! The weeks go by so fast!

Spanish update! I feel pretty self sufficient in my Spanish. I've begun to understand people a ton better, although it still takes a lot of concentration. I am able to learn new words now though, just by listening to the context, which I think is something that will help me improve tremendously.

Anyway, other than that, it was a good week! Sometimes I feel a little down, or a little unmotivated. (In Spanish it's Desanimo) but when the hard times come, I just choose to be happy. Because there's so much in life to be happy about! God loves us, and he is so good to us! Men are that they might have joy! (2 Nefi 2:25) So when the hard times come, count those blessings! I love you all! Have a great week!
-Elder Anderson

Elder Garcia, Elder Anderson, Anyara