Monday, April 20, 2015

Coming Home

I will see you all in a very short time! Can't wait to give you all some big hugs! :-) Thanks for all of your love and support!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Read the Book of Mormon

April 13, 2015

This week I got to hear General Conference, as usual it was absolutely AMAZING!! I learned so much. I noticed they had a TON of talks on family! I guess I better hurry and start my own family... haha. 

I and the other Elders followed traditional Mormon tradition and went to get ice cream after the priesthood session. I bought a THREE DOLLAR chocolate fudge sunday! So yes, it cost a small Indian fortune, but it was such a massive Sunday that I struggled to finish all of it. Good times with General Conference! 

One of our investigator's named Reggie comes from a very very poor family. He has been struggling to find work, but recently he found a pretty good job. After learning that he was about to start his new job, we taught him about tithing. When we asked him if he would pay his tithing on his very first paycheck he said "of course brother! I was already planning on giving God money for blessing me with this job." It's always touching as a missionary when I get to see the great faith of other people. 

President Berrett gave all of us a challenge to read the Book of Mormon in 2 months, and as we read to highlight all of the references to faith, repentance, baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost, or enduring to the end.

I started at the end of last week and now I am already on chapter 4 of 2 Nephi! My plan is to complete the challenge, and then email president Berrett from home that I finished strong and completed his challenge. :-) I am learning so much already from this reading of the Book of Mormon, and I feel the Spirit SO strongly as I dig deep into the word of God. 

We have an investigator named Mary who talks, a lot. Our first 3 visits with her were 3 HOURS. Each. Then a couple days ago we went by just to say hello and see how she was doing. We thought it would take 5-10 minutes. We ended up staying for an hour! haha oh the people you meet on your mission! 

I'm really gonna miss my friends in India though... Vidya Shree and Dinakeren really do feel like my brother and sister. I am going to miss them so much. But I guess I get to go home and see my real brothers and sisters, so that's pretty awesome also! 

Dad/Bishop Anderson, I have a request of you. Sometime in the near future after I get home, I would LOVE to go out with you and meet/visit the recent converts in Oly 3rd ward. I know you already have a busy schedule, but I can't think of any better way to spend some time with my dad than to go out and do missionary work together. 

Really, I can't believe this is the last week of my mission... it is truly unfathomable. Obviously I have been blessed abundantly here in India, but I think the greatest blessing I have received is that I now have complete confidence. I have confidence when talking with mortal men and women, but even more importantly I have complete confidence before God. I would have zero problem if Christ came down right now and judged me and my life. I am confident that I am well on my way to reaching my eternal potential. I know I have still have a mind boggling amount of things to improve upon, but I know what path I am on. To say my life course has flipped a 180 from serving a mission would be an exaggeration, but it has definitely been altered by more than 1 or 2 degrees. My whole life will be better because of the time I spent serving the Lord.

I can't wait to see all of you next week!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Final 2 Weeks

WOW! Noah that is awesome!! I definitely didn't expect Italy for you, but now that I hear it it seems to fit perfectly for you! :-) When I was at BYU I became buddies with one of the temple workers at the Provo temple, and he also served his mission in Italy. He said he gained a TON of weight, because people fed him tons of delicious pasta all the time. I don't think you will have a problem with the food. :-) 

I had to laugh at little bit at your comment that I didn't get the timings, classes, or teachers I wanted... haha but really, I'm sure whatever happens will work out well enough. I'm sure you still got me signed up for some good stuff. Thanks for taking care of that for me; I'm sure you guys did a lot of work to get me signed up for my classes. 

Oh! And Happy almost birthday to you Abbey! You are one person that I never forget the birthday for, because when you were younger you would always remind us that your birthday is April 8th. I hope you have a great 15th b-day!

This Saturday was Zone Conference. The tradition in our mission is that the soon-to-be going home missionaries share their testimony in their last zone meeting before they leave the mission field. I've seen many Elders give their final testimonies during the course of my mission, but it always seemed as though it would never happen to me... well, it finally was my turn on Saturday to share my last zone testimony. I don't even know why, but I couldn't stop myself from choking up while giving my testimony! I had to stop looking at the Elders around me, because looking at them as I bore my testimony was gonna make me cry! I don't even know why, because I don't feel sad going home. At least up until now, I have no regrets from my mission, and I know I will still be a missionary when I go back home, so I have no need to be sad about not doing missionary work, and I know I will stay in contact with all the friends I've made on my mission,I even know I will come back and visit India again someday, and of course I will serve a couple's mission one day, so really there is no reason at all to cry! Similar to starting a mission, finishing a mission is a bitter-sweet experience. 

But take for example this week we were teaching our potentially gay less active member Savio. He lives in an old run down Tamil medium (speaking) school, and we were teaching him at the back of the school. We were each sitting on three large bricks, because there were no chairs. As I looked around at us sitting on bricks, in the middle of some run down school yard, and us teaching the Gospel to some Indian who has lived a life of who knows what, I couldn't help but think, "I'm gonna miss being a missionary." There are just some experiences that you have on a mission that you can't have anywhere else. To be allowed into the deepest parts of hundreds of strangers' lives allows you to learn more than anything a school could ever teach you. 

It's also interesting as I look at the 3 other Elders in my apartment. I can very clearly see old parts of Elder Anderson in each of them. Things I did or ways I thought at the beginning of my mission, but not anymore. I am happy to say I am not the same person I was at the beginning of my 2 years.

But, obviously missions are not easy, nor are they always fun. In fact, they are quite stressful! My mind is constantly thinking about our plans, and backup plans in case Plan A fails (which it often does). Who are we going to visit? What if they are not home? What are we going to teach them? What if they didn't keep the commitment from last time? Do we have appointments for tomorrow? Do we have a member coming with us? What if that member doesn't show up? What if that lesson goes too long? Will we still have time to get to the next appointment? And so on and so forth. Today marks the first day of the last 2 weeks of Elder Peter's training though, and on the last 2 weeks it is up to the new missionary to lead the area. It's weird to think, but those questions are no longer my job to worry about now! Elder Peter is in charge of figuring those things out for 2 weeks, and then I no longer need to think about them anymore... Weird. Really weird. That's all I ever think about! All I know how to do is to be a missionary! It is my prayer that my transition to home life will go well. I'm sure it will be just fine! 

This last week, President Solomon spoke in the Indiranagar branch Sacrament meeting, and his talk was so good that the news of it got passed around the zone. President Solomon used to be the India Mission's mission president back in 2000. He shared that when the year 2000 started, the missionaries all set a goal to have 1000 baptisms in the mission during 2000. The saying became "1K In 2K". They also realized though that they would need God's help to accomplish such a goal, and to get God's help would require complete obedience. So they made a list of specific mission rules they would track, and had each Elder report on his obedience level each week. Well, at the end of 2000 the mission had 614 baptisms. Pretty impressive, but not quite the goal they were hoping for. Well, guess what the average level of mission obedience was for the year? 61%. Whoa. Other than 4 freebie baptisms that God just handed to the elders, they reached exactly 61% of their goal with exactly 61% obedience. Truly this is a clear and powerful example of the power of obedience. 

This week we visited one of our old woman investigators named Sunnunda Raj. She lives in a very nice home, and clearly her family is very well off. Well, as we got to know her better, she told us about her trials in life. Her husband is having an affair with another woman, her husband is very controlling of her and until recently wouldn't even allow her to have any friends over, and her daughter also doesn't like her at all. Wow. I contrasted that with the Lakshmanan family we visit, who are semi-recent converts to the church. They are VERY poor. They don't even have running water in their home. But they tell us they are happy. Happiness and peace is in their family. It still amazed me how often I see that money does not make people happy or bring them peace in life; only the Gospel can do that. 

Testimony meeting yesterday was touching in our branch. Many people that have big barriers to bearing their testimony still went up and shared! A couple of small kids went up. Deaf people went up, and had a member translate what they were signing. An old woman went up who knows NO English, but had her family write out a simple testimony for her so that she could sound out a simple English testimony. Even a brother named Prakash went up to share his testimony in English, and he had tears in his eyes by the time he finished, despite that he has the English level of a 5 year old in America. The church in India has great difficulties because it is run in English (imagine trying to establish the church in Washington by only speaking Spanish!), but it truly touching to see the faith of the members, as they do the very best they can to participate in church, despite their lack of English skills. 

Last night as we shared an Easter message with a recent convert, he asked us HOW are we resurrected? I told him quite frankly that I don't know! All I know is that it really will happen. As I pondered this on the walk home, I realized how the Gospel and science are very different in that regard. In the Gospel, we know the WHY for everything, but almost never the how. (I know Jesus Christ suffered for my sins because he loves me, but I have no idea how a man 2000 years ago felt my pains today and paid the price for them). Where as in science they can tell us the how, but never the why. (We know that molecules generally want to fill their shells with an equal amount of electrons to their protons, and we can measure where and when and how they get those electrons, but we have no idea WHY they want to have those electrons. The most my science teacher could say was that having a full valence shell makes the molecule "happy" because it balances the positive and negative in the molecule, which is not a real reason at all because molecules are inanimate objects and can't be happy or sad!) The same could be applied for almost every Gospel principle, as well as scientific discovery. How blessed we are to know the how's of science, in addition to the why's of the Gospel. 

I am still enjoying my mission a lot, and learning a lot as well. I hope you all can say the same for your lives as well. 

Monday, March 30, 2015

Giving Blessings

That is a bummer Noah didn't get his call! For sure next week I went to hear where you are going, little bro. But that is awesome Adam and Chelsea are having a boy! That is super duper awesome! My vote is to give him a cool Book of Mormon name. Moroni Anderson. Sounds pretty good, eh? Sorry to hear you aren't doing well mom. I hope you get well soon. I am pretty happy you got through the OT though. Gee wiz, that book confuses me a lot... maybe someday I'll build up the courage to really dig into it. Abbey, you stated your routine as if it's a bad thing! Seminary is great, school is great, homework can be fun, and sleep is a true joy! What's not to like? 

I think the highlight of this week was how many priesthood blessings we got to give. During this one week we gave not one, not two, not three or four, or even five or six, but TWENTY THREE blessings! Let me tell you, my Priesthood is well exercised. One of our investigators, Nirmala, took us to a lot of her friends and relatives and asked us to give them all blessings. This week we gave blessings for everything from financial problems to shoulder pains, leg pains to diabetes, and even a couple that has been trying for 8 years to get pregnant. Really, it has been a pretty awesome experience seeing so many people's faith. Even though they are not members and don't know what the priesthood really is, they have faith that God can heal them. And many of them told us that they DID recover after the blessing! I know my testimony of the priesthood is still growing, so it has been a great week for me to be able to use the priesthood so much. I always feel the Spirit so strongly after giving a blessing to someone. 

We also went and blessed one of our member's construction site. They are building a new home for themselves. It was really weird though.... so they live like a 100 second walk from their construction site, but they wouldn't come with us to dedicate the site! I guess they didn't want to walk over there? So the only people that were at the construction site were a couple of construction workers, who of course speak zero English, so me and Elder Peter couldn't even explain to them what we were doing. So we just awkwardly stood in a corner of the site and I gave a small prayer... really weird experience. 

This week as we talked to one of our investigators, Paul, I realized how different I have become on my mission. Paul and I are both 21 years old, but as I look at him and his life I realized that he is almost exactly what I would be like if I had just been at home for the last 2 years, but not at all what I am like now. I will be forever grateful for the great changes in myself that I have been able to experience because I came to serve the Lord. 

This week we did a little bit of door knocking. We have to be very careful though, and make sure we are only knocking on Christian doors, because of all the Hindu stuff that is going on in politics nowadays. It was a lot of fun! We were invited in by semi drunk old guy who fed us some delicious rice with tomato curry, and then he showed us his daughter's maturity function photos. I had to introduce Elder Peter as to what a maturity function is. Apparently they don't have those in north India, so he thought they are as weird and hilarious as I do! Haha a giant party to celebrate a girl being able to give birth to children... I guess in reality that IS something we should celebrate, right? It's a great blessing from God! 

This week we have also had a lot of touching experiences with Jude (remember? He is the guy that asked tons and tons of questions when we taught him). This week his mom was admitted to the hospital. And her condition is very, VERY serious. She is having lung and kidney failure, and is in ICU right now. Obviously I can't really fully imagine what it feels like for them, but I tried to put myself in their shoes and could easily see just how painful it must be for their family right now. The first day she went into the hospital they had a good 10-15 family members at the hospital. Since then she has been in the hospital for 3 or 4 days, and they keep family members there round the clock. They will take shifts who stays there, so that she will always have someone with her. Jude told us that he knows many pastors, but he has faith in us, and that is why he asked for us to come and pray and bless his mom. Constantly his family is telling us that they know only by God's grace can their mom/wife be healed. 

To be honest, I feel completely inadequate in these situations. What I am supposed to say as 10 people surround me with tears in their eyes, many of them being 10-20 years older than me, and expecting me to make the problem better? What can I possibly say to bring comfort these people that are suffering so much? We have visited them 3 times this week, gave a blessing once, and prayed the other two times, and I have done my best to testify of God and His power, but oh how I wish I had greater words to give them... I was reminded of a time a few years ago that Bishop Anderson (Dad) was asked to give a prayer at a funeral. I remember he typed up a prayer, and put a lot of thought into what he could say to comfort the people there. At the time, I thought that that was kind of weird (come on, giving a prayer is easy, right?), but not I can totally understand his feelings... I wish I had had a nice typed prayer that I could use! 

I feel the Spirit so strongly as I am with this family during their great trial. Their faith is superb. And whenever I go over to the hospital it really does wonders to put all of my small little problems into proper perspective. 

On the 3rd time we were heading out of the hospital, as soon as we got out onto the sidewalk, we saw a YSA guy tear by on the street on a very powerful motorcycle. After he raced out of sight, it made me think about how unintelligent and careless he was being. After just being with a family that is in near hysterics because their mom is quite possibly going to die, it was a very stark contrast to see someone who apparently did not have much understanding for how valuable his life is. How inconsiderate to risk your own life! Ya, if you die, great. Whooppy-dee-doo. No sweat for you really. But it is your FAMILY that is going to pay the price. They are the ones that are going to have their lives turned upside down because you thought it would be fun to have some thrills on your motor bike. It gave me added resolution that one, I will never break the speed limit (knowing that the speed limit is calculated by professionals who are allowing you to go as fast as you possibly can without increasing your danger of death), and two, that I am going to be more careful with my life in general. It really is sad to see how one person's death can hurt their family so much.

All in all, I would say I learned a lot this week. Even in the last month of my mission, I am always amazed at how much I have to learn!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

beware of the birds

March 23

This week we were searching for some less actives on the membership record that no one knows about. We met one woman named Rosalind Brenda, and she told us that elders used to come visit her years and years ago, but no one has visited her in at least 2 years, and the time she came to our church was about 10 years ago. I asked her when she was baptized, and she said when she was a baby. Assuming she was Catholic before, I was then more specific and asked when she was baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Her response? "I was never baptized in your church. I just came and visited it a couple of times. Me and my family are all Catholic." Uhhhh...... What?? Either one, she has somehow forgotten about her baptism (or is lying about it), or two, someone in the church thought she was a member and entered her name and address into the membership list... Either way, I'm a little confused. She told us to come back in a couple of weeks, so I'll be interested to see what happens if we get to work with her more. 

In my 19 years in America, I can only remember being getting pooped on by a bird once, and then one other time it hit my backpack. In just 2 years in India, I had my FOURTH time being pooped on by a bird this week! haha... :P 

It's interesting, all the other Elders around me keep telling me how I only have 1 or 2 weeks left of my mission. I tell them to stop trying to cut my mission short! I have a solid month left! At other times my apartment mates tell me how they are way trunkier than I am, which is funny because they have been out for 7, 5, and 2 months... haha I guess that's good I'm not trunky! 

Elder Peter has really good English, but he has watched a lot of Hollywood movies and they use some English words that are very inappropriate but you wouldn't know that by how frequently they use them. This has caused him to pick up a few bad words unknowingly. This week I taught him that he shouldn't use the D or N words... Funny stuff! 

So in our branch we take in all of the deaf members for Bangalore, no matter where they live. Because of that, Convent Road has sign language interpretation during Sacrament meeting. This Sunday we had an old woman give her talk in Tamil, and because I know almost zero Tamil, I found that I got a lot more out of the ASL translation of her talk than what she was actually saying! No, I still don't know ASL all that well, but I sure know it a lot better than Tamil. 

This week as we were walking back home one evening, we saw an older woman and a YSA age girl helping an old man walk. Elder Peter stopped and asked if we could help. Of course they said no, but as we were about to walk away they struck up a conversation with us. As it turned out, they are strong Christians, and the mom had just had her brother pass away 9 days before. They were inviting any pastors or evangelists to come give prayers at their house, and told us that we could come over and give a prayer. We said we would be delighted to! So we went over and shared just a small message (because it was already almost 9, and we had to get back to our apartment). We shared 1 Corinthians chapter 15 about how Christ will bring to pass the resurrection on all of us. The mother who had her brother die started to cry, and chant hallelujah as she bowed down touched my feet (a sign of GREAT respect in India). To be honest, I was a little uncomfortable by this... But a couple days later when we visited them again she told me how the words we shared had really touched her heart, and she definitely wants us to come back again. All in all, a really great experience! And I'm excited to have some new investigators to work with. :-)