Monday, November 25, 2013

Early Christmas

Zone Conference

Hey! Guess what I got this week?? A Christmas package from my dear family! :D Wow, I can tell you, I was VERY excited to rip that puppy open! And to my delight, you all WAY out did all of my expectations! There's been many times these last few days where I've been saying "Wow, mom and dad NAILED it! This is PERFECT!!" We've listened to my favorite Christmas song (Carol the Bells) probably around 10-15 times already... haha it's great. Thanks for all the wonderful western goodies too. I had to resist eating that whole bag of dark chocolate berries in one day! :) And Elder Thompson really loved the tie you sent too! He's very particular with the ties he wears, and he says the tie you sent is so good that it's going into his "post-mission" ties stack! I dare say, this is probably the best Christmas present I've ever gotten, so thank you very much. :)

This week I got to attend a wedding! It was SO funny! hahaha ohhhhh arranged marriages... they are a funny, funny thing. These two people have barely even known each other, and now they are getting married! It was so much fun to see how awkward the guy looked. It reminded me of the awkwardness the first time I went on a date... just totally awkward, and not knowing what to do. You could tell he was VERY uncomfortable putting his arm on her shoulder for their pictures. haha ohhhh fun stuff...

Yesterday at church was our branch's primary presentation. I thought the primary presentations in the USA were hilarious, but I was DYING yesterday! There were only 3 girls that did 90% of the presentation (one little boy bore his testimony also), but each one of the 3 girls gave like 2 or 3 talks, sang all of the songs, and each went up and bore their testimony. My favorite part was seeing how every time they would go up to give one of their short talks, they would ALWAYS start by saying "Good morning my dear brothers and sisters", even after they have already gone up two or three times already, and already said good morning to us... haha it's semi doctrinal though here in India to start your talks that way though. I always think it's hilarious when people that don't know English start their talk like this, "Good morning my dear brothers and sisters... Telugu Telugu Telugu" Every member of the branch knows at least those 7 words of English. :)

It kind of reminds me of the silliness in America where people say "for those of you that don't know me, my name is..." even though they were introduced before they started their talk, AND their name is in the program! haha, funny.

These past few weeks we have stopped eating at restaurants for lunch, and have started cooking inside. As we eat our lunch, we've been watching church videos that we have lying around the apartment (mormon messages, the District, the Testaments, etc.) Two things that I've thought of as we do this. One, I think of what I did during my lunch breaks at college. I would usually either get on Facebook while I was eating, or watch some quality Drake and Josh, or some other similar show. What a change from watching Drake and Josh, to watching videos about Jesus Christ! A very good change though, that's for sure.

The second thing I thought of is when we were watching the District videos (which is a documentary of some missionaries in California). Whenever Elder Thompson and I watch the segments of the elders we just think "Are you kidding me... have these guys even read Preach My Gospel before??" But then as we watch the segments with the sister missionaries we think, "Are you kidding me... how are they so good?!?!" I also recently learned that lat year, the highest baptizing missionary in our mission was not an elder, but a sister. And that's especially amazing when you think of the fact that we have 80 elders, and only 8 sister missionaries, so STATISTICALLY an elder should be the highest baptizing missionary. I'm beginning to think more and more that God lowering the age for sisters to go on missions was the single biggest action to hasten the work of salvation!

Little sister (Abbey), I really hope you go on a mission some day, because we definitely need more champs like you!

Have a great Thanksgiving break! Enjoy your American feast; I'll probably go to an all you can eat rice buffet. :)

Monday, November 18, 2013

Love that Curry!

Since you mentioned tithing, I'll also say that I have been pleasantly surprised by how easily people accept the doctrine/commandment of paying tithing. To a large degree, I think that's because Indian society is run by churches, so people are used to paying big bucks to their pastors (pastor's homes tend to be... well above the standard Indian home). One elder even told me that he had an investigator say "10%? That's it?? Great! I was already paying 20% to my old church, so 10% should be easy!" haha :)

Yes, this month I passed the big 6 month mark! Huzzaw! :D To celebrate my 6 months completed, and my companion only having 6 months to go (he entered the MTC almost exactly one year before I did), we splurged a little bit and went to an AMAZING all you can eat buffet for lunch! I ate tons of rice, chicken curry (my favorite curry), egg curry, potato curry (another one of my favorites), this Hong Kong fried vegetable stuff (not really sure what it was), butter naan (delicious!), Indian style Chinese noodles, and then a few bananas and sweets for dessert. All this amazing food in a very classy looking restaurant, all for just $4.50. :)

Well, this week I have an interesting story to tell you. I'm not sure what you'll think of it, but I'll just tell you how I see it, and you can take it as you will.

About a year and a half ago, I received the Melchizedek Priesthood. During my time at BYU, I had a couple of times to use this priesthood, but each time I felt very intimidated, because I really had no idea what I was doing! Also, while I was at college, I remember very clearly one lesson we had on the priesthood in Elder's quorum, in which I thought to myself how I will ALWAYS be worthy enough to give someone a blessing. There should never be a time in my life when I had to tell someone that I can't give them a blessing, because I'm not worthy enough (wow, just the thought of having to do that makes me cringe...)

But, guess what I did this week. I denied giving someone a blessing.

What?! Crazy, huh? But, I'll explain the situation.

No, it's not because I'm not worthy (I'd say I'm more worthy than I've ever been before), and it wasn't because I was too scared to give the blessing (I've already given tons of blessings on my mission, so now I feel fairly confident in giving people blessings.) It's because I really want to help the people here in India, and sometimes that means not helping them directly, so that they can have the opportunity to help themselves.

You see, the church here in India is still very dependent on the missionaries. The church is very new here, so the Elders still play an integral role in making sure the church works properly. But, in my opinion, it's time for the church in India to begin standing on it's own two feet, and stop using missionaries as their crutch.

The tradition here in India is that whenever you are sick, you call the Elders. They will come give you a blessing. And at first, I was okay with this, because many people don't have a priesthood holder in the home, so I felt privileged to be the one that brings the blessings of the priesthood into their homes. However, I know that fathers, if they do have the priesthood, should be the one taking care of their family.

One night a couple of months ago, a man asked us to come give his son a blessing. We agreed to come over, and when we got there, I asked him if he had the priesthood. He said yes. In fact, he had served a mission from 2003-2005, so I knew this man knew very well how to use the priesthood. But, he refused to give his son a blessing. He only wanted us to give his son a blessing. So after much pleading, I agreed that I would give the blessing (believe me though, I was not happy about this. I knew he should be the one giving the blessing). After we left though, I made a resolve: never again would I give a blessing to someone IF they had a worthy Melchizedek priesthood holder already in their home.

Fast forward to this week, and a very similar situation came up again. A man asked us to come over and give his son a blessing. We came over, and then asked him if he had the Melchizedek Priesthood. He said yes. We told him he could give the blessing, and we would simply assist. He said he had forgotten how to give blessings, so we taught him again how to give them. Then we all agreed that my companion would do the anointing, and then this brother would do the sealing of the blessing.

But, after my companion anointed, this man wanted to back out. He started pleading for me to give the blessing instead of him. But, I told him I wouldn't. I told him it was his duty as the father of his home, and I was not going to take that duty away from him.

Sadly, after a couple of minutes of talking, the man just sat back down in his chair. He wouldn't give the blessing, and I would not give it either.

He told us "Sorry for wasting your time Elders." And then, after another minute of just casual conversation, we left. His son, as far as I know, was not blessed that evening.

I know it might sound harsh, but I'm pretty sick of people having faith in the elders, rather than faith in God.
But, there might be a happy ending to this story.

Yesterday, a different family called us and asked us to come give their daughter a blessing. We told them that they could have their home teachers come over, and they would give a blessing. So, we told them who their home teachers are, and they gave them a call instead. Their home teachers came over, and gave the daughter a blessing.

Guess who one of their home teachers is? The father of the son that I wouldn't bless.

There's no growing in the comfort zone, and there's no comfort in the growing zone. I think it's time to make the people of India a little uncomfortable, and help them get into the growing zone.

Well, I hope you enjoyed that long story of mine. haha :)

Have a wondrous week!

Elder Anderson

P.S. Also! This week India had a holiday that kids in America beg for every time we have Father's/Mother's Day: Children's day! :D But before you get too excited, let me tell you what a few of the highlights of Children's day are: the teachers at school give all the kids about 50 cents worth of candies, they get to play a few games, they don't get homework for the day, they don't have to wear school uniforms, and, best of all, the teachers don't beat them.
No uniforms, no beatings, a few games, and some candy. Sounds like every day in America, huh?

Enjoy your week long Children's day! ;)

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Be Wise . . . . Not a Robot

So, since you mentioned the Philippines, it reminded you that there is a very spiffy piece of information that I don't think I've ever told you guys! You see, getting India Visas is a very tricky thing to do, and one requirement that the Indian government has said is that our Visas can only last for one year, and then we need to get a new one. BUT, we need to leave the country to get a new India Visa. So when our missionary visas expire, they ship us over to the Philippines until we get new Visas! Whaaaat! Crazy! So in 6 months, I will go become a Filipino missionary for a few months while I get a new visa! How cool is that? I get to serve in TWO missions! :D

This Saturday I had my second Zone Conference, and wow, it was AMAZING! I love getting to hear from President Barrett! He's not only physically a giant, but a spiritual giant as well. One thing we learned about was how to help people understand the true nature of the Godhead, and how they are NOT all the same person (I think every person in this country prays to Jesus... :P ) I can definitely work on that, because I all too often skim over that fact with investigators, that we need to pray to Heavenly Father, in the name of Jesus Christ.

President also talked to me about how I need to be wise in how I use the Missionary Handbook. You see, President Funk (the mission president last year) was all about following the handbook to the letter of the law. Very much law of Moses style. So, that was the way I was trained (If the handbook says to do _____, we will do _____, even if it seems illogical to do so). But President Barrett helped explain to me that he wants us to use the handbook wisely, meaning to follow the letter of the law as best as possible, but not to be afraid to change it if the Spirit/our God given brain tells us otherwise. This is quite a change in the thinking, and I am still working on it. Being wise.... much more difficult than being an exact obedience missionary robot!

This week we got to begin teaching a very special man named Banu. He has been Hindu his whole life until a month or so ago, so his knowledge of Christianity is very... limited. BUT, he is so so so humble and willing to learn more! It's actually kind of scary how receptive he is to what we teach... We told him in the lesson, "Banu, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is God's ONLY true and living church on the Earth today." Then later during the second lesson one of his friends came in the room, and asked who we white guys are, and Banu told him we are missionaries for the only true church! Wow! Didn't take long at all for him to accept that very important truth! :)

The India Bangalore mission... THE best mission in the world! And no, I'm not biased at all.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013


Wow! You lucky ducks! I LOVE Halloween!! Abbey, I give you my approval for not wearing a skanky Halloween costume, as all too many girls seem to do nowadays...

And since you brought up candy, I will tell you that the candy here in India is... usually edible. Haha the first time I had an appointment where a family gave us an Indian sweet I really had to force myself to get it down! Store bought candy is still good, but the bakery sweets here aren't the greatest. oh well, the curry is good!

Oh! Except for a sweet called Kasha (spelling?) Kakinada is famous for them, and they are AMAZING! Kakinada Kasha! It's like a cookie thing with honey inside! Yum! :)

Oh, and exciting news! Yesterday evening we had a lock down for a couple of hours for another awesome possum Indian holiday! At 5 o'clock we had to be back to our apartment, because that's when Diwali really got goin'. What is Diwali? Well, I want you to imagine 4th of July fireworks. Now, imagine what people would do with fireworks if the government wasn't there. That pretty much sums up Diwali! Just INSANE fireworks every where! It really did sound like a war zone! I can only imagine how many people blow themselves up on this holiday... 

Fireworks display

So for the evening Elder Thompson and I just went up onto the roof of our apartment building, and watched the show! We also made ourselves some delicious smoothies (don't worry mom, I always remember your secret to a good smoothie: more sugar!) It was a lot of fun just getting to chillix for a few hours, just talking about random stuff like world war 2 and funny youtube videos. Being on a mission, you appreciate down time 10,000X more than you do back home.

I really like that quote from President Benson about working hard on a mission brings greater happiness. I can definitely attest to that. A couple of weeks ago we had a training in which we read a talk by Elder Callister. It was about becoming a 100% consecrated missionary. Not just a good missionary. Not even a great missionary. But a 100% dedicated servant of God. I've really been doing my best to ramp it up, and give 100% to the Lord, leaving behind everything from my American life, and being fully focused on the work. And I've seen that over the past few weeks, I've only felt happier and happier, and missionary work has become easier and easier! Interesting when we give more to God, our life is better than if we had kept more for ourselves.

There's so much more I would love to tell you about, but there is just never enough time for emailing! So, I guess I'll just tell you more in 7 days. :)

Love you all,
Elder Anderson

P.S. Actually yes, there IS something I would like for Christmas! Could you get a USB drive, and then load it up with some missionary music I can listen to while exercising in the morning? My companion has 3 CDs, and we've pretty much memorized every song on them... haha :) I would definitely want all of the scripture mastery songs, any EFY music we have around the house, and anything else you think would spiritually uplift me in the morning! Thanks a bundle! :)

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Rain, rain, go away . . .

I've actually been surprisingly (VERY surprisingly) healthy while I have been here in India! The standards for food and water are... more than slightly less than the standards set in the USA, but God has kept me strong and fit! :) And as for sunburns, I've only gotten burnt like 2 or 3 times. The sun here is magic! It's sunny all day, but I never put on sun screen, and I never get burned! Hooraw! 

This week has been INCREDIBLE!! We have had more rain in Kakinada this last week than I've seen on the whole rest of my mission put together! I love being in the rain, it reminds me of good ole Oly... :) But the Indians, they do NOT like rain! You know that scene in the movie Toy Story where all the toys are having their meeting, and then Andy (or is it his mom?) starts coming up the stairs so all the toys scatter into their hiding spots? Well, picture that same scene here in India, except it's Indians scatter into their hiding places when it starts to rain. I've never seen the street clear off so fast! Within 1 minute of rain starting, BOOM, the streets are totally empty. Haha it's hilarious. 

I also found it pretty humorous (and sad) that the slight drizzle Sunday morning caused our church attendance to drop by 50%... ohhhhh Indians... :P 

This week we had what might have been the final lesson with one investigator named Madon. He is by far the smartest man I've met on my mission, but for all his worldly smarts, he may be missing out on the truthfulness of the greatest piece of knowledge of all: that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is God's only true church. 

Madon enjoyed us coming over to his house and teaching him about what we believe, but that's all he wanted to do, simply learn about what we believe. He didn't want to change his life based on what we told him. Other people don't want to make changes in their life because it would be very difficult for them to change, but he told us "It really would be no problem for me to come to church, and keep the word of wisdom, but I'm not going to. It's nice that you believe in what you do, but I really have no intention of changing my beliefs."

When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsels of God... :(

It's interesting, because I think I've borne more sincere testimony to Madon than I have to any other person at any other time. I've prayed for him more than probably any other investigator we've had. I've put into practice every little thing I've learned about how to be an effective teacher while we are meeting him. But in the end... it's his choice. He has his agency. 

Ad despite us not being outwardly successful, I realized that I was COMPLETELY success by how Preach My Gospel defines a successful missionary in chapter 1. I felt the Spirit testifying through me. I had a sincere desire for his welfare. I did all that I could. 

Hopefully, one day, Madon will realize what he is missing out on. I hope to have a joyous reunion with him in the Celestial Kingdom some day!

Abbey, I was thinking of you this week as I cycled around town, because there are SOOOO many puppies out in the street! I don't know where they all came from (well, I guess they come from their mothers...) but all of a sudden there are puppies everywhere now! I've tried to refrain from using abbreviations as a missionary, because they are probably too casual for a servant of God to use, but "totes adorbs" is the only way you can describe all of these little guys! :)