Monday, July 22, 2013


Here's a description of the pics.

This is a picture of the main road in our area, so it should give you an idea just of what the area looks like.

This is of a birthday party! People invite the missionaries to their birthday parties here! Pretty cool, huh? An Indian birthday tradition is to feed each other some cake, so that's what me and Mahesh are doing! haha :

This is a picture of what's called a Maturity Function. hahahaha okay get this, it a celebration, a MASSIVE celebration, to celebrate a girl becoming... mature. What does that mean? She is now able to have babies. Haha well, I guess that is something pretty important, so why NOT throw a party for it? :)

 This is the inside of Spencer's. Just wanted to show you that SOME things here are westernized, but then you also have some people living in huts that look like what the people on Survivor build. Wow, so crazy the gap of westernization that is here in India.

Well, that's all the pics for now! Ta ta familia! :)

No electricity, but lots of cake...

Hola familia! 

Hahaha ohhh Noah, sounds like the Sound of Music was quite a fun experience for you! That's cool you guys had a little Pioneer Day remembrance. I was actually talking to some members a few days ago about Pioneer Day, because they were wondering if it was a big holiday over in the USA. I told them not really, only in Utah! haha. And Abbey, what a pro you are! I could never win anything at those carnival games... guess you are more skilled than your big bro!

So, in my district, the Kakinada district, there are two sets of Elders. Us, and one other pair. We split Kakinada into East and West territories, and me and Elder Watts cover West side. In our zone there are like... hmmm... 18 elders? Something like that. It is called the Rajahumundry Zone. And no, we have no sister missionaries in our zone. That's because the Rajahumundry area is pretty un-westernized, and they like to keep the sister missionaries in more westernized cities (for protection I guess). So, they stay in places like Bangalore and Hyderabad. 

For Preperation Day, here's what typically happens. We wake up, get ready for the day, do our studies for the day, clean the apartment for an hour, go do emailing (unless there is a power cut, I'll explain that in a minute), shop for our food at Spencer's (kind of like a small Walmart), go back and eat lunch, and then hang out for 2 hours at the apartment. Then we go back out at 6, and we will usually teach 2-3 lessons before we go back home for the night. Haha I think it's crazy that those 2 hours at the apartment are really and truly the only free hours we have the entire week. We literally work 24/7, minus 2 hours. Wow! Quite a change from back home! 

So ya, power cuts! No, not power outages, just power cuts, meaning the power company stops supplying electricity for a certain period of time. Why? Because they can't make enough electricity for everyone to use as much a they want. Which is mind blowing, because people here use WAY WAY WAY less electricity than people in America. The power cuts are longer and more frequent on warmer days, because than people are cranking their air conditioning up. Fortunately, this past week has been pretty cool, so there has been almost no power cuts. But on warmer days there could easily be 2-5 power cuts in a day, ranging from 1-2 hours each. haha so appreciate your cushy American life stlye with electricity 100% of the time! :)

Okay, I gotta tell you guys about one investigator named Trishal. He is a true gift from God to us! He randomly went to one church meeting in a different city a month ago, and really enjoyed it. So then the missionaries from the other city told us about him (because he lives in Kakinada, he was just visiting the other city), and we made an appointment to teach him. On the very first lesson we had with him, as were teaching the Great Apostasy, he randomly asked, "So, I actually have one question. Can I baptized?" We're like, "Uhhh... YA YOU CAN!" Apparently he has been trying to baptized into a Christian church for the past 6 months, but all the churches had rules that for one reason or another he couldn't keep (e.g. he needed to worship in their church for 1 hour every single day, and he just didn't have time to do that). He also came to church this Sunday and really liked it, and hopefully he will be baptized in August! Hooray! 

Oh, and in case you were wondering, I can understand people pretty well now! Woo woo! Haha however, understanding their accent is only one barrier in communication. There is also the fact that they might only know 100 words of English, so even if you do understand them, you might not be able talk to them about very much... So along with your electricity, appreciate the fact that you are surrounded by people that understand you when you speak! It really is a big blessing! 

Well, I love being a missionary! I've already grown so much, and hopefully made a difference in many people's lives. I hope you guys have a great week, because I know I will!

Elder Anderson 

Monday, July 15, 2013

Sneezes, toilets, and Indian food

Hola familia!
Wow! Congrats to you Dad! Gettin' a big fancy award! Very cool. Haha Abbey does seem to be the only person in the family that ever has much going on... a true party animal for sure! Sorry to hear about the colds though... at least you can get some extra sleep to help you recover faster, since you don't need to wake up for school or seminary. Haha oh ya, that actually reminds me of my companion right now. He has kind of a cold or allergies or something, so he sneezes pretty regularly, and his sneezes are MASSIVE! Like, investigators will start laughing when he sneezes because it's so loud! Hopefully you don't have it that bad!
Well, I will do my best to answer all you guy's questions!
First off, yes, we are primary teaching the new member lessons, not the branch/home teachers. This is because the church is very new here, and members don't really know how to run the church. Actually, that is a big emphasis of the new mission president, establishing the church/helping them to become self sufficient (and rely less on the missionaries). We are slowly teaching them new things (like who should be attending what meetings, what roles does each calling entail, etc.) However, we don't want to overwhelm them, so we are slowly getting them to do more and more things. So, as of now, the missionaries are still the primary teachers for new members. Hopefully that won't be the case in a couple of months!
At the same time, you gotta give these guys some credit. 90% of the branch is first generation members (a handful of people were born into the church, but most converted). This means that many of our leaders have only been members for a few years. It would be unfair to expect them to know/do everything when they are still so young in the Gospel. I'm actually proud of how much they ARE doing! Way to go India church members!
I think our apartment name is Sameera residency? I'm not really sure, since we use the mission address for anytime we need to use an address. Haha hopefully you can find it on Google maps though!
Toilet and bathing situation... haha now THAT is some fun stuff! See, they don't use toilet paper here. Instead (if you are well off, like us missionaries), you get a little hose next to the toilet. So, when you are done going to the bathroom... you just spray out any extra debris! hahaha it's actually surprisingly effective! If you aren't very well off though, all you have is a little bucket of water next to the toilet, and you scoop some water into your hand, and then you splash that around to fulfill the same role as the hose... haha I haven't dome that yet, and I'll try to avoid it for as long as possible!
Here is a typical day of food.
-A big pot of oatmeal for breakfast
-A big pot of pasta for lunch
-No dinner (we are too busy teaching people to eat! So we just have spiritual food to keep us going, which works just fine!)
-At 9 we come to the apartment, plan for a half hour, and then eat some food. Typically I will have a sandwich or something like that.
Where does the Indian food come in, you may ask. Well, it still comes! Most people give us a little snack when we visit their home, so I've tired quite a few different Indian snacks. Also, we get invited over for dinner at a member or investigators house every once in a while. At first, I was DYING while eating Indian meals. Like literally, nearly throwing up. But this past week I actually had my first ENJOYABLE Indian meal! I was wanting seconds and thirds! Hooray for God blessing me with the gift of tongues (taste bud tongues... haha)! :)
Our branch has 2 sets of missionaries. Currently, there are 80-100 people that typically come to church. The branch goal is to get that number to consistently 120+, because then we can split into two branches. Everyone is so happy at church, and everyone goes around giving handshakes and saying good morning to all of the other members. And I love hearing the singing in our branch! It's definitely not even close to on key, but people still sing out anyways!
Here's news on one investigator for this week. His name is Solomon, and he is a CHAMP! He converted to Christianity a year ago, and he just wants to learn as much as he possibly can. He reads the Bible every day, and now he is stating to read the Book of Mormon too. He is so excited about the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and tells us all the time how he wants to learn more from us, so then he can share the good news of the Gospel with all of his friends. He has a true love for Jesus Christ, and he really trusts us to teach him God's word.
Well, I must be going now. Have a super duper week, eats lots of sugary American food for me, and don't forget to do your family scripture study and prayers! ;)
Elder Anderson
P.S. I love the sound of it when people call me Elder Anderson! I'm gonna miss having that title someday! 

Monday, July 8, 2013

Pasta sauce and a baptism

Hello family!

Wow! Sounds like a great week! EFY and the 4th of July are both pretty awesome! And getting another rental... wow, you guys are big spenders! Way to go! I'm jealous of Jared that he gets to be at BYU! Every time I go past the university in Kakinada it reminds me of my good ole' days at BYU. I guess I'll just need to wait a while, and then I can be schoolin' it up with my big bro! And happy birthday to Adam! I'm sure that will be bundles of fun! 

Guess what?! Yesterday was my first baptism! Hooray! I even got to be the one to perform the baptism, so that was extra cool. Haha I was so nervous, mostly because I couldn't figure out how to say his full name, even after he told me like 5 times... haha eventually I just went for it, even though his name was probably said way wrong. 

But ya, I'm super excited for him! His first name is Murli, and he is about 30 years old. He has a wife and one 2 year old girl. His wife listened in as we taught him the lessons, but she isn't quite as interested as he is... sigh... wel,, we'll teach her more in the future in see what happens! 

Murli is super great though! I'm amazed by the level of faith and trust that he has. Whenever we told him about a new commandment, like the Law of Chastity or Tithing, he would just say "Okay, I'll do it." Just like that! All he had to know was it is something God wants him to do, and then he agrees to do it. Such a great guy! 

Murli is also one of the city's water men. This will let you know a little bit more about the kind of living over here in India... so, pretty much a water man is like a milk man in the USA, except instead of delivering little bottles of milk, they deliver 20 liter jugs of water. That's because the tap water... ehhh.. not necessarily safe to drink. Haha but it's all good, getting more water is cheap, only like 2 cents per liter. 

This week we will start teaching Murli the new member lessons, so I'm pretty excited for that too! I can't wait to see the progress he will continue making! 

Here's a little about my companion. So, his name is Elder Watts, and he is from Australia. He is actually half Indian, but he looks totally white. haha. He is definitely a great companion/trainer to have, and he has already taught me SO much. It's also pretty nice how laid back we both are, because it keeps any situation from getting stressful. He has particularly taught me a lot about how to effectively plan. Before my mission, planning definitely wasn't one of my strong points (I thought daily and weekly planning were kind of waste of time...), but he has helped me learn how to effectively plan and prepare for the upcoming day and week. 

Also, he is a great pasta making man, so we make pasta for lunch quite a bit. Thanks to him, I now know how to make one mean sauce for pasta! 

Okay, and here is some more great news! Guess how many doors Elder Anderson has knocked in his first month out in the field? A big grand total of ZERO! I have done absolutely NO tracting since I have come to India! Why? Because the members are helping us so much! This week we have TEN referrals from members that we need to contact! How awesome is that?! They are also super willing to come on exchanges with us (which is VERY needed sometimes when we need a translator), and to help us identify less actives to go and visit. We literally have to MUCH to do! There are too many great things that we need to be working on. I hope all of you are helping the missionaries out, because I can only imagine how hard it would be to go knocking doors all day... :P

Things are going great, and the work is only picking up more and more. My belief that India will be the next Brazil for mission calls grows every day, because this mission really is the place to be!

Love you all!

-Elder Anderson 

People with lives outside of missionary work...

Hello family!

Wow... that stinks that my last letter didn't send! I just tried to find it, but couldn't seem to locate it... hmmm... I'll search again after sending this letter.

I always enjoy hearing about your guy's activities, because it reminds me that people still have lives (besides the missionary life!) It's weird to think that I would be doing the exact same things right now if I wasn't over here in India. But, I'm glad this is my new life now!

Thanks for that story about exact obedience, it's really good! Being obedient is definitely an interesting concept when you are a missionary... it's always a constant struggle to determine when to follow the letter of the law, versus when to follow the Spirit of the law.

For example, we commonly have the problem of not having a male 18 years or older in the home we are teaching. And if there is no adult male there, we aren't allowed to be there (by the letter of the law). This is to make sure we never in an inappropriate situation with a woman or girl. However, many times the people will say, "Oh that's okay, don't come inside, we will just come outside onto the front lawn and you can teach there." So then we would be out in the open, with possibly an old woman and her two grandsons (or some situation similar to that). Then, would that be following the Spirit of the law? Would we then be keeping ourselves in a situation that would keep us safe from ever being tempted to compromise our standards? I don't know.

That was just kind of a random tangent right there, but ya, being obedient is definitely something that we are constantly thinking about.

Another random something right here. Turns out, I probably won't be having a thick Indian accent when I come home... sad day! That's because, as I'm seeing more and more, missionaries here have a switch that they turn on and off for when they need to use an accent. For example, if we think someone has pretty good English, we will talk to them pretty much how we would talk to anyone back in the USA. However, if they start appearing confused, we can turn the switch on (use very simple sentences, simpler words, speaking slower, and maybe start using a slight Indian accent). It's weird how all day I am constantly changing the way that I speak. I don't think I've ever been so careful with my speech as I am right now! Every single word counts, so I make sure I choose words extremely carefully.

So, I was thinking the other day that I would like to tell you all about one investigator in each of my weekly letters. One every single week, because I love my investigators so much, but ONLY one week, because I could easily fill a whole letter with just talking about investigators! haha.

For now, I want to tell you about one family that we are teaching. The dad and mom are named Sudheer and Sujetta, and the two daughters are Diana and Queeny (no idea if that's how you spell their names, but that's how they sound). They are one of our best families! All of them want to be baptized at the end of this month, and they all tell us how happy they are when we come over and when they come to such. The dad, Sudheer, has a drinking problem that we are trying to help him overcome. So far, he has gone from a whole bottle a day to just a quarter of a bottle a day. Hopefully he can be totally clean in a week or two! The daughters are really amazing too (they are 13 and 11 years old). They are always really excited whenever they see us, and they race to open the scriptures whenever we tell them what verse we are going to read. They are both really shy about praying though, so they always try to pick on the other person to say the closing prayer! haha, very funny.

Well, have a great week family! And yes, definitely follow the counsel in the missionary broadcast, because that was AMAZING! If all the members do their part, the work of gathering God's children will definitely hasten.

Love you all lots,
Elder Anderson