Monday, September 30, 2013

Count Your Many Blessings

Hi family!
Haha I love that picture of Abbey! It definitely looks pretty cold there! We've had some pretty big rain here too, but for the most part you are wet from sweat each day, not rain. The saying in the mission is that for every drop of sweat you have, your wife gets one degree hotter. So by this point, I think I will already have the most attractive wife in the family! haha ;) 
Noah, I know that Mr. Fabricious (wow, I already forgot how to spell his name...) would say SPSCC's accounting class was harder than his, so I wish you the best of luck in it! I'm sure you'll do great! And getting a job at Pizza Hut would be awesome! I'll come order some pizza from you someday. :) 
Sorry to hear about your test though, Mumzy. I'm sure you'll nail it next time! 
And sounds like you are gettin' some great ward activities goin' Bishop Anderson! I LOVE The Testament! I think that was the last movie I watched in America (I saw it in the MTC). Good times! Oh, and I'm glad you finally got my letter! It only took 2 months! haha :)
Life is still great here in India! I'll share with you just a couple of thoughts that I've been having this week.
Yesterday I got to attend my first funeral in India. It was the funeral for the first Patriarch that India has ever had (he was even about to give his first blessing this week... very sad.) It was fairly similar to a funeral in America. Me and my companion even sang for like an hour at the beginning of the funeral as people were still coming in and taking their seats. And because we were singing at a funeral, we were singing many hymns that are meant for people in distress (Abide With Me, How Firm a Foundation, Come Come Ye Saints, etc.) 
As we were singing, I realized something: these songs don't have the same meaning for me as they used to have. Just a few months back, when I would sing similar songs at BYU's tunnel singing, and they would always touch me very deeply. That was because I felt like I was going through difficult trials, and these songs were exactly the words I needed to hear.
But now on my mission, I don't really have trials anymore! In Matthew chapter 11, it talks about how we should take Christ's cross upon us, because it is easy and light. I've definitely seen the truthfulness of that on my mission. All my days now are spent carrying Jesus's cross, and my days really are easy! If instead of getting discouraged or anxious or sad for mow than 5-10 minutes, I start to wonder what's wrong! "I've been feeling down for 7 whole minutes! I gotta get out of this funk!" 99% of the time life is easy and fun! :) 
I don't know if that's because my life really doesn't have as many stresses as it did back home, or if it's because I now see life through an eternal perspective, but either way, my life is pretty easy now! 
Speaking of having an easy life, that reminds me of another one of the thoughts I've been having... When I was set apart of a missionary, one of the blessings that I received was that I would be able to see past the poverty people have, and simply see them as sons and daughters of God. I've definitely seen the power of this blessing. For the vast majority of the time, I am not bothered at all by the poverty I see. It doesn't really matter to me if someone has a house that costs $30 rent per month, or $300. They all need the Gospel, and their social position doesn't make a difference for how badly they need to hear this great message.
However, this week I did have an experience that did affect me. After the funeral, some of the men took me and my companion out to lunch. These guys had just driven in from Hyderabad for the funeral, and they were quite well off. They drove us in their AIR CONDITIONED CAR to lunch, and then bought us an all you can eat lunch of delicious rice and curries. By the time we were driving back, I felt like a true upper class person! This was the first time I had ridden a car in Kakinada, because only the very wealthy own cars, so this was a pretty special experience. But as were driving back into town, we had to stop because one of the men needed to go to an ATM. 
While he was at the ATM, the rest of us just sat in the car. While we were sitting in there, a 5 year old boy came and started knocking on our car window, giving us the hand signals for money/food. As missionaries, we aren't allowed to give money, so I knew I couldn't give him anything. And one of the other men in the car just kept pointing for the boy to go somewhere else.
But the boy didn't leave. 
He kept knocking and knocking on our window, signaling again and again for money. I tried not to look at him, because when I did look at him I would see that he was starting to tear up from desperation... After 5 minutes of knocking on our car window, the man came back from the ATM. He then gave the boy 4 cents, and the boy wandered off, and we continued on with our journey. 
Four. Cents. That's all that little boy was given. After the men had just bought us all you can eat buffets, and we drove away in a car worth thousands of dollars. I felt ashamed at the realization of just how good my life is, and how bad life can be for other people. 
Oh man... I'm tearing up just remembering the look on that boy's face! :(
In America, we live lives that are beyond rich. You really can't understand how rich us Americans are until you see what it's like when you're NOT living in a Utopian country. Don't take your life style for granted, because there are billions of people that can only dream of living the life that you have. 
Haha sorry, I wasn't expecting this letter to be so depressing, but that was definitely an experience that touched me, so I wanted to share it with you all. 
Have a great week, and truly enjoy the many blessings you have. 
Love, Elder Anderson 

Monday, September 23, 2013

It's One CRAZY Holiday!

Hola familia!

Congrats to you Noah! Startin' up the college life! Which is definitely the second best 
type of life, right below the missionary life. haha ;) Ya, I had heard that Julie is 
serving in D.C! I'm super excited for her! Sometimes, I feel like all of my friends are 
still back at home, going about life as normal, but then I remember that half of my 
friends are actually scattered around the world right now serving their own missions. So 

So this week we had the close of the Ganesh festival, and I gotta say, this is THE 
craziest holiday I have ever seen in my life! And I don't mean "crazy" as in 
these people are all lunatics, I mean crazy as in the type of crazy people say when they 
come back from a party and say "Whoa man, that party was CRAZY!"

Normally, missionaries are locked down on the last day of the Ganesh festival, because 
that's when things get really awesome, but President Barrett seems to be moving away from 
missionary lock downs, because we were out and about as normal on the last day of the 
festival. It was INSANE! Everyone was getting big trucks, and using those trucks to haul 
their giant Ganesh statues to the ocean (they dump all the Ganeshs in the ocean, which 
"baptizes" Ganesh, this forgiving their own sins somehow... haha I don't really 
get it either!) But the trucks travel slowly, and as they travel herds of people will 
surround the truck with the Ganesh inside. All the people have their faces covered with 
paint/chalk stuff, and have bandannas wrapped around them that make them look like a 
teenage mutant ninja turtle. Then they all whip out their drums and stereo systems and 
start playing music as loud as they possibly can. And the people that aren't playing 
music are having what looks a lot like a stake dance. haha I quite enjoyed seeing some of 
the kids do the Dougie! :)

And then, to make it even crazier, the heard of people is launching fireworks while they 
march to the sea. And these aren't little sparklers they are lighting off... they are all 
enormous motor fireworks. hahaha of man, I'm surprised these people don't kill 

Whenever going past one of these giant crowds of parting Hindus, I would just keep in 
mind what the penguins from the movie Madagascar taught me: Just smile and wave boys, 
smile and wave! :)

My new companion Elder Thompson is grand! He really is TOTALLY opposite to my last 
companion Elder Watts, but that just makes life that much more exciting! He tells lots of 
stories as we are traveling around, and we have a lot of fun together! He is from 
Washington D.C. (well, an hour north of it, but he tells everyone D.C.) He is also went 
to Utah State before his missions, so we enjoy comparing college stories with each other. 
:) He also is good at using examples and visual aids in lessons, so I have definitely 
been learning how to be a more entertaining teacher with his help. AND, he is helping me 
learn how to get better hand writing! My hand writing will look like a girl's by the time 
he's done with me! woo woo! :)

So, these past few weeks we've been working a lot with less actives. Time and time again, 
I see the sane thing. People stop coming to church because they were... 
"offended". Ugh. :P We've been visiting with the Batina family recently, and 
slowly but surely we are making progress with them. The dad says he knows the Book of 
Mormon is true, but he still doesn't want to come back to church... How does that even 
work?! In my missionary mind in makes so much sense: If the Book of Mormon is true, 
Joseph Smith must have been a prophet. And if Joseph Smith was a prophet, everything he 
taught must have been from God. Which means, this must be God's true church. Simple. But, 
the trouble is getting others to see this logical chain reaction. We'll keep working with 
them though! :)

The computer shop I'm in right now is blasting Justin Beiber and Selena Gomez. Haha being 
on a mission is definitely a party! :) 

Have a super duper week family!

Elder Anderson

Monday, September 16, 2013

It's a Party!

Hola familia!

Oh wow... hahaha I realize that phone bill must have been quite unpleasant for you all, but it gave me a good laugh! You're definitely a little teenager, Abbey! ;) And I totally agree with you mom about getting to bear your testimony every day. There's no better way to grow your testimony than to share it! :) Noah, are you doing slow dances now, or still just a fast dancin' kind of guy?

This week in India has been AMAZING!! I LOVE the Ganesh festival!! I think it's similar to how atheists still love Christmas. Even though I don't worship the elephant god Ganesh, that doesn't keep me from having a roaring good time! :D

On just about every street there is a giant Ganesh set up (most are about 3-15 feet tall), with a little shrine around it. And the fun part is that all day long they blast party music at each shrine! Every where we go we are listening to awesome Indian music! (I'm hooked on Indian music, and I'm totally going to listen to it even when I'm in America). Plus, the festival puts every one in a good mood. Just like how everyone in December has the "Christmas spirit", everyone in India gets the "Ganesh spirit"! haha.

And by far, my favorite part of the festival was one night when they were playing Gangmen Style at one of the shrines, and I got to watch little 7 year old Indian boys try to do the Gangmen Style dance. hahaha! Little Indian boys doing the Gangmen dance around a giant elephant statue. Definitely not something you see every day.

One part of the festival that has been strange for me is a rule that we have to help keep us safe: no finding new investigators. I didn't realize how automatic it has become for me to share the Gospel with people I meet in the streets and stores until I started needing to force myself NOT to! Normally, people ask where I'm from, what I'm doing in India, and then that's a perfect lead into I'm a missionary, teaching about Jesus Christ, and then I ask if they would like to learn more. But for this past week, I've had to force myself to say, "Oh, well, I'm just here doing service." Sigh... oh well, starting next week I can talk to everyone I meet about the Gospel again! :D

My new companion's name is Elder Thompson, and he is the EXACT opposite of my last companion, Elder Watts. Not that he's bad at all, just WAY different. I would say it's like comparing Batman (Elder Watts) to Spiderman (Elder Thompson). Both quality super heroes, but not at all the same.

Elder Thompson is a really goofy guy, so it's been a lot of fun partying it up with him (missionary kind of partying, of course). And, since he is brand new to Kakinada, it's been great getting to be the leader of the area, and see that I'm actually capable of leading very well. I guess all that training Elder Watts gave me really paid off. :)

One awesome story for you all. So, this last week I went to Rajamundry for a few days, before my new companion arrived. While in Rajamundry, I became a trio with another companionship up there. One day, we went and visited a old sister named Papa (ironic name for an old woman, huh?) Before the visit, the other elders told me "I know this visit is going to seem a little harsh, but we've been working with this lady for a MONTHS now, and she just isn't progressing. She can't/won't give up her tea. We are going to give her one last chance, and if she can't do it, we are going to need to drop her and move on."

So, for the visit we had with her, we told her that if she didn't stop drinking her tea, we would need to stop visiting her. When the missionaries first started coming, she was having EIGHT cups of tea a day, and she had brought it down to 4 cups per day, but she never could go a day without it. We told her she NEEDED to not drink any tea the next day. That was our goal for her. To just go tomorrow without drinking any tea. One day. That's all she needed to do to show she was serious about this.

And we told her we would be coming back tomorrow to see if she completed this goal.

All that evening and the next day we were praying for her, just hoping that she could give up her tea addiction. After months of trying, that she would finally have success.

The next evening, we went over to her house. But, she wasn't home. Instead her daughter was there, and we asked her if her mom had drunken any tea. She told us that Papa had NOT drunken any.

Did our ears deceive us? Was this for real?!

Needless to say, we started hollering for joy and dancing around like little kids. And just at that moment, guess who walked around the street corner? Papa.

You could tell by her face that she knew exactly what we were all yelling about. :)

On the mission call packet, it says something along the lines of "greater happiness and joy than you have yet experienced await you as you humbly and faithfully serve the Lord". I would say this was one of those times. :)

Miracles do happen!

Have a super duper week!

Elder Anderson

Monday, September 9, 2013

Exact Obedience and Good-bye Elder Watts

Hello family!

Well, as you can see, we are NOT locked in today! woo woo! BUT, to try and keep us safe, 
we were told that we had to wear regular clothes as we traveled around today. So instead 
of being in a shirt in tie like usual, I'm emailing you this letter while in shorts, flip 
flops, and my "Trix Are For Kids Shirt". haha I think it's tons of fun! 

What are you doing Noah, now that you have the whole house to yourself for a couple of 
weeks?? Throwing tons of parties?? ;)

Oh, and regarding pictures, I will not be sending you anymore for the rest of my 
mission... sorry! :( I tried sending some more 2 weeks back, but the computer I used had 
viruses on it, so all of my pictures got deleted... now I'm too scared to try sending any 
more pictures, because apparently the problem I had is not uncommon. So, you will need to 
wait another 20 months before seeing any more of my photos! :)

Hmmm... I think the most important trait for a successful missionary is definitely 
obedience. Yes, I'm well aware that's a cliche answer, but it really is true. Even this 
past week, I re-evaluated my own level of obedience, and I realized that I definitely 
have a lot of fine tuning to do before I can claim that I am being "exactly 
obedient". If a missionary is being obedient, everything else falls into place. Even 
for small things, like the fact that they will keep the apartment clean, because that's a 
rule you are expected to follow as a missionary! haha :)

This week I said goodbye to Elder Watts. After 3 months of training me, he is now gone. 
He's off to a city called Quimbature, and I will stay in Kakinada. My new companion 
arrives on Thursday, and until then I am in a trio with some other elders in my zone. And 
although I'll miss Elder Watts, I've gotten a lot better at saying goodbyes over the 
course of this last year or two, so it wasn't all that bad. And plus, I'm excited to work 
with a brand new companion! All sorts of new fun we can have and thins we can learn! :)

And this week, since all of the members knew that Elder Watts was leaving, we had TONS of 
meal appointments! Haha I've never eaten so much curry in one week! 

I don't think I've ever told you how meal appointments work though, have I? Pretty much, 
a meal appointment in India is nothing like a meal appointment in America. Instead of 
everyone sitting down together at a table to eat the meal together, the family will just 
bring food out for you, and then watch you as you eat it. They will also ask you every 
couple of minutes, "Do you want more curry? More rice? Any more water? Anything else 
I can get you?" It's like eating at a fancy restaurant! :)

Oh, and no matter how little a family has, they ALWAYS want the missionaries to eat a 
TON! Even after you are full, they will keep scooping more food onto your plate for you 
to eat. And even when you say you are too full to eat anymore, they will find sneaky ways 
of getting more food onto your plate (e.g. when you ask for a little more rice, they will 
give you a lot more rice. Then you are forced to get some more curry to go with your 
rice, because everyone knows you can't just be eating rice by itself!) haha the mission 
life, it's a fun one for sure. :)

These past couple of week, we've really been trying to work with less active members in 
our branch. It's kind of like us trying to be super home teachers! :) It's amazing (and 
sad) though to see how the vast majority of them have stopped coming to church for the 
exact same reason: someone, or some organization in the church, offended them. Sigh... :( 

Fortunately, some people are starting to come back to church! One family in particular 
has 2 daughters named Maggie and Priuh, and their mom Satya, have been great to work 
with. Whenever we visit their home, I can tell that it re-sparks their love for the 
Gospel (as well as for missionaries, haha). It was great seeing the mom come to church 
yesterday! :) The kids came the week before, but they had to go to school this week... 
Next week they can hopefully come also! :)

Oh, and guess what?! I bought myself my first ever Indian donut today! :D It was QUITE 
delicious! I forgot how much I love those sugary little puppies. :)

Have a great week, and be sure to treat yourselves to some donuts! You won't regret it!

Elder Anderson 

Monday, September 2, 2013

Love India Style

Hi family! 

Wooooooooow! Now I know what Adam and Jared were talking about when they went on their missions: you guys get all the good stuff right when I leave for my mission! haha :) I'm definitely riding that scooter when I come back! And that flash 
flood sounds like so much fun! You didn't have any flooding inside the house?? If so, that is REALLY great! And sounds like same ole Abbey, having her friends 
take her to super awesome activities. :) Are you still doing your exercises Dad? Hopefully the Ape Caves wasn't TOO hard for you! ;)

Well, I am officially done with my 12 week training! Woo woo! :D Technically, I 
should be considered a full fledged missionary, but the next 3 months after 
completing the 12 week training has been termed by other missionaries as your 2nd training, or your "follow up training". Haha but I am totally fine with calling it that, because I can tell I still have a TON to learn!

Pretty much, I've learned more in these past two weeks than I ever thought 
possible. Even after a month of being in the MTC, and having 10 weeks of training out in the filed, my first 2 weeks as the leader in a companionship were still 
pretty rocky! At the end of each day Elder Watts would spend 5-10 minutes telling me what I did well during the day, and what I could improve on. Every night, he would have at least 3-5 things in which he would say "Well, if I were the one 
leading, I don't think I would have _____", or "It might not have been the best 
idea to _____ " or "You kind of missed out on an opportunity to do ______ today", etc. etc. All in all, I think he gave me around 60 different things in these 2 
weeks of things I can improve upon. SIXTY! 

Wow, at first when I thought about this, I was blown away! I wouldn't say I was 
feeling sad about it, just that I was amazed at how much I still had to work on, even after so much training. But then, I realized something. By the time I went 
to BYU this last year, I had been to church about 900 times. I had gone to 
seminary over 600 times. I had studied The Book of Mormon and Bible for 1,000+ 
hours. I had gone to 8 week long church camps. I had 900 family home evenings. 
And yet, even with all of this "training" on how to be a good person/be a better disciple of Jesus Christ, I'm sure if anyone would have followed me around each 
day they could have found WAY more than 3-5 things I could improve upon! So why 
should I be shocked that I still have a lot to work on as a missionary, after 
only 3 months of training? 

Perfection definitely isn't attained in this life. But, as long as we are 
improving a smidge bit each day, then in another 13.7 gazillion years I'm sure we will finally reach perfection! Good thing we can live for all eternity! :)
Another thought I've been having this week. As a missionary, you get to 
experience a brand new type of love from those around you. Before my mission, I 
had already experienced many different types of love. Love from my family, love 
from God, love from my roommates, love from guys friends, love from girls (well, maybe that was just in my imagination... haha),  love from teachers, and many 
others. However, nothing can really relate to the love people give me as a

There's not a day that goes by that I don't feel loved! Just a few quick examples. When I travel in the streets, I'll have little kids literally running up to me shouting "Elder! Hi! Elder hi! Elder hi!" all running up to shake my hand. Or 
after an appointment when we ask "When can we come back and visit you again?" a 
common response is "Hmmm... tomorrow?" Or it's not umcommon for us to get calls 
from people saying "Hey, when are going to come visit our home??" or when it's 
times for us to leave they will say "No no no! Stay! Just 5 more minutes."

Wow! I've never felt to so popular in my life! haha :)And for me, having all 
these people love missionaries so much just sets the bar that much higher for me. I don't want to let these people down, so I do all I can to truly be the 
representative of Christ that they expect. 

Well, that's all for now. Have a grand week familia! 

Elder Anderson

P.S. Next Monday I for sure won't be emailing you. We will be locked inside all 
day because of some massive Hindu festival! It's a holiday celebrating the Hindu God Ganesh. It's really too bad we will be locked in though, because the holiday sounds like a BLAST! You should definitely look it up!