Thursday, December 11, 2014

Taxi Ride

December 8

The highlight of the week was our taxi ride to the airport on Monday. We should have left about 30 minutes before we did, and our taxi driver didn't want us to be late, so we ended up experiencing the craziest car ride of our entire lives. It's awesome to be in a car that is hauling down a narrow and very dark highway, overtaking a truck while another incoming truck is heading at you in the opposite direction and is only 100 meters away from hitting you... and experience that multiple times in one car trip. My companion and I were laughing as we got out of the car at how many times we almost died! BUT, we made our flight, and that's what matters the most, right? Gowda is the master taxi driver!

This weeks we did our exchanges in the state of Tamil Nadu, and at one point I even forgot where I was... I was trying to help an investigator put yourself in the place of Lehi, and told her "Imagine God told you that you had to go tell everyone in Chennai they needed to repent, or the city would be destroyed... wait... not Chennai... Coimbatore! That's what I meant to say." Haha you know you are traveling around a lot when you forget what city you are in! :P

While I was on exchange in Coimbatore with Elder Cluff we went and saw the branch president and his family. I got to help the daughter identify a scam email she had gotten claiming she had passed an interview and was eligible to come work for some hospital in California. I read through the email that she had been sent, and although it was pretty good English, I have been in India long enough to be able to pick out the grammatical errors that are particular to India, and I told her this email was written by an Indian, not an american (at the bottom it was signed by the president of the company, an american)... sorry to disappoint you sister! Good thing I am fluent in two languages - American AND Indian English! Also, in the same house I was able to successfully guess the branch president's wife's calling and age: Primary president, age 31. Props to myself for my amazing guessing skills!

Elder Cluff and I also met a new investigator, and it was the first time he had every met Americans before. Naturally, he thought Elder Cluff and I looked pretty similar. Elder Cluff jokingly told him that we are cousins. Well, later when the investigator looked through my photo album he became pretty upset, and asked us, "Elder Anderson, why don't you have any pictures of your cousin in here? Where is Elder Cluff??" haha Elder Cluff had to retract his former statement... funny stuff!

After I got back to Bangalore, a couple of the missionaries told me that I was looking a lot tanner than usual. I guess that's what happens when I get to go proselyte instead of sitting inside an office! ^_^

This Saturday morning we had zone training. We had a practice for street contacting, and I got to be an investigator. As usual, I picked the same investigator that I always use: myself, if I wasn't a member. I sometimes feel kind of bad, because more often than not, including this time, I kind of shut down whatever the elders try to say to me, to a point where they really don't know what to say anymore... I'm a strong atheist, but still a kind person. I feel bad that many missionaries really have no good responses to an intelligent atheist. I wonder myself if the missionaries could have successfully taught me if I wasn't born into the church. Really, the only thing that could convince me is the Book of Mormon. For me, that really is the convincing evidence that this whole Gospel is true. 

In the Bangalore Zone we have all of my missionary batch. Me, Elder Mangum, and Elder Singh. It's awesome to see both of them, because I can see so clearly how much they have changed. Really, they have changed a LOT. And I believe I could say the same thing for myself. That's the best part of a mission, becoming the person I've always wanted to be.     

Thanksgiving . . . India style

December 1

Interestingly enough, I almost forgot about Thanksgiving, but it was all of my Indian roommates who remembered it and were pumped for celebrating! haha ironic. So, on Thanksgiving we had an American style lunch feast! Spaghetti, veg meatballs (Gobi Manchurian, delicious by the way), fruit salad, bacon, and grilled chicken! Yum yum!

Have you seen the new It is AWESOME! I hope you all share that with people! I know that's what I'm gonna be doing for the next month! We even had a special mission wide training on how to use it effectively. Now if only the "He is the Gift" cards could get through Indian customs, then we could start handing them out to people... haha.

So, normally for exchanges are purpose is all of the things you mentioned. Inspire and uplift, train, help those who may be struggling, and also (I think this is a big one) to gain information. It's amazing how much you learn about the zone/companionship when you are on exchange... I definitely know all the mission gossip by this point. :P Normally, we only go on exchanges with zone leaders, but sometimes we go on half a day exchanges with others (like the district leaders, or a companionship that is struggling). We take all the time and expense to fly out to a different city, so we figure we might as well spend a little more time there, rather than just be in and out in 24 hours.

Hey, I'll attach in this email our schedule for the Christmas devotional/zone conference schedule we are doing in December... wow, it is gonna be a craaaazy 2 weeks!

This last week we had mission leader conference, and we discussed some good changes we are going to have in our mission. I've realized one skill as a leader I've been able to develop is not necessarily coming up with great ideas, but being able to effectively use the ideas of others. I just get other people to suggest what changes they think need to happen, and then move their ideas forward! Makes my job pretty easy, and makes them feel good as well. :-)

I don't know if you remember, but in Hyderabad we taught a semi-crazy investigator named Divya. Well, guess who showed up to church yesterday? Divya! Right in the middle of Gospel Principles class she walks in through the door! Oh wow, I had to keep myself from busting out laughing! A totally unexpected, yet strangely enough not too surprising, event during church. Also, she brought her cousin to church, and he is pretty interested in church, so that's great! Good times on the mission!

It's always disappointing when investigators you expected to come to church don't come... but in the converse it is very exciting when people you didn't know would come to church do come!

This week we committed Trishual to pray sincerely about the Book of Mormon. We did our best, now we NEED God to do the rest.

Lakshmi is improving her English skills, as well as her gospel knowledge. Her life is changing in many ways for the better.

Last night, we went had a little time before going back to the apartment, so we decided to stop by a member's home and say hello. When we got there she told us she was sick and wanted us to give her a blessing. She told us that she got really sick after church finished, and was going to go to the doctor the following morning, but she told God "I don't want to go to the doctor. just send me someone that will give me a blessing, and that's good enough for me." We gave her a blessing, and she was crying by the end. It was amazing to see her faith, and to see how the Spirit was able to answer her prayer by guiding our path.

I am very grateful to be serving my mission now. Have a great start to December!

Visiting Kakinada

November 24

I had an awesome possum week! Definitely the highlight of the week was my exchange in Kakinada!!!!! :D It was awesome getting to go back to my missionary birth place after one year of being away. You know, I was expecting to have really weird nostalgic feeling when I went back there, but on the contrary, to me it felt like I had never left! It felt as though I had only been gone for like a week or two. I had to remind myself that a whole year has passed away... crazy. 

Just a couple of my highlights while I was there...

Seeing the first person I ever baptized, Murali. He has finished the Book of Mormon, and is now the second counselor in the branch presidency. Whoa. And he is still just as humble and kind as he was a year ago. I love Murali. :-)

I didn't have time to go see 15 year old Akhil on Wednesday, and I was leaving pretty early Thursday morning for Rajahmundry. Well, Akhil showed up at our apartment at 6:20 in the morning so he could say hello to me! haha crazy, but awesome, boy. He asked when he could submit his mission papers a week after his baptism! 

Seeing little Sandya Palaparti. Without a doubt the nicest person I have ever met in my life.

Ramu.... He still have zero English skills, and our conversation are him speaking Telugu and me speaking English, but I love that guy so much! He even called me Thursday to make sure I got to Rajahmundry safely, and then called me again yesterday to make sure I was safe in Bangalore. Awesome awesome guy.

I also got to see Sudheer, Sujatha, Diana, and Queeny. All smiles during that visit! :-) So, all of the family except Sudheer was baptized while I was in Kakinada, except the father (Sudheer). He was an avid drinker... He almost committed suicide while I was there because he was so drunk. Well, guess what? He has been sober for the last 3 months!! :D He's still not baptized, but it's awesome to the gospel working its power in this family.  

I also saw Sindhu and Bindhu, Anusha, The Big Jug (Jagaparti Rao), and Elder Vaddi, who recently completed his mission in the India Bangalore mission. 

Almost every single person I saw in Kakinada said two things when they saw me. First, they are so so happy to see me again. Second, I look sick, because I've lost all of the weight I gained while I was in Kakinada... haha pardon me for only weighing 148! 

The only problem is there wasn't enough time! One day in Kakinada is just NOT enough!! There is so much more I wanted to do, and so many more people to see... I was busy that I didn't even time to go get one the world famous Kakinada Kajas! But that's okay. Visiting some of my favorite people in the world is more important than delicious sweets. 

Plus, the next day I was on exchange in Rajahmundry, and got myself some Rajahmundry Kaja... not quite as good, but still pretty delightful! ^_^  

The other highlight of the week was yesterday, when we had the Primary Presentation at church! I love the primary presentation so very much! Half the time I am about to cry from feeling the spirit of their simple and pure testimonies, and the other half I am about the cry from holding back my outbursts of laughter from their craziness! Our primary president is only 19 years old, with a semi-active family, so definitely congratulated her for a job well done; I'm sure that was a very big task for her to put this on. 

Life is going great! i'm exhausted nearly continually, but I'm happy. I hope you all are happy as well.

Krispie Kreme

November 17

Well, definitely the biggest news of this week is I got to see my all time favorite Indian family again!! :D I was so so so happy to see the Raman family once more. They live in a different branch in Bangalore, and I arranged for us to go on exchange with the elders serving in that branch. Really, it was so awesome getting to see them again after 5 months of being away from them.

When we first got to their home, my exchange companion, Elder Grimmett, called up them that elders were downstairs (they live on the second floor of the building, and you need to call down to them for them say it's okay to come up). After a minute the daughter, Vidya Sree, came out to the porch to see us, and after a moment of looking she realized who it was (myself), and shouted out, "Mom! It's Anderson!!" (I hadn't told them I was coming) 2 seconds later the mom, Manjula, comes hustling down the stairs as fast as a little overweight middle age woman can go. :-)

Manjula told me that she really wasn't feeling very well, and when she heard Elder Grimmett shout that elders were there, she thought "I'm not really in the mood for elders to come visit right now..." but that quickly changed when she knew her favorite missionary was downstairs! 

It was kind of weird at first though. What are you supposed to say to some of the dearest people in your life after you haven't seen them for 5 months? "How are you?" just doesn't seem to adequately describe your emotions. 

We focused our lesson on the dad, Raman. He still isn't baptized... however, since the rest of his family was baptized, he now has given up drinking, and reads the Bible every day without fail. His only concern with coming to church is, common enough, "I don't know English." Sigh... a difficult concern. We did our best to encourage him to come anyways, and try to learn English (he already knows 4 other languages, so how hard could it be to learn a 5th?)

An awesome evening. :-)

Also, while on exchange in Convent Road branch I called Keerthi Sagar to ask if we could come visit him. His response was "Your family! You don't need to ask to come over." It's great to see old friends again. 

Also, this last Sunday we had a young guy named Raju just walk into church. He stayed for all 3 meetings, and really enjoyed it. We set an appointment with him, and met him later in the week. Taught the Restoration. Agreed to be baptized. The only concern being he didn't feel like he knew enough to be baptized. We said we would help him with that. Perfect! I had a smile from ear to ear after that lesson. Hopefully, next month he really does make that sacred covenant with God. 

This week I celebrated my 1.5 year mark with Krispie Kreme doughnuts! It tastes like I'm back in the USA. Amazingly delicious.

I've noticed a clear difference with meeting with President Berrett, depending on if I'm meeting with him for an interview (where he is trying to help me) or when I go into his office to offer my assistance to him. It's nice to be able to actually help him, and let him relax for a minute. He is one super man. 

This week I am on exchanges all week. Roaming around India! And best of all... I get to go on exchange in Kakinada!! woooooo!! I'm so excited. 


November 10, 2014

Well, the biggest news of this week is that I got a new companion, Elder Stephen. Elder George was the first missionary (and potentially only missionary) that I have "killed". He went home this Wednesday. At the beginning of my mission, I got really scared over getting a new companion and how they would act and how my life would change, but now it's pretty routine. Life rolls on as usual. I do like Elder Stephen. He is a very very nice guy. He is from Chennai, and has been out for 15 months. One benefit of being an Assistant: I pretty much got to pick my new companion! :-) Also, he loves me a lot... haha like a lot a lot. Pretty similar to how Elder Bandi was. They both look to me as their role models. Hopefully, I can live up to their expectations! 

Here's something funny (well, I think it's funny anyways). So a couple of weeks ago I walked into our kitchen and heard some terrible scraping sounds. I quickly saw it was from one of my apartment mates cooking his top ramen. He was using a non-stick pot, but instead of using a plastic spoon or something, he was scratching up the bottom of the non-stick pot with a metal fork in an attempt to get his noodles out! haha I couldn't help but laugh out loud, thinking of how mad mom would get if she ever came into the kitchen seeing us do that... I briefly explained to him you need to use plastic, not metal, on these kind of pots. Well, I don't think I adequately explained this to him and the others, because yesterday I was looking at our pots, and they are all black non-stick types of pots, except for the very bottoms of them now... the bottoms are completely silver and metal. All of the anti-stick has been scratched off. haha I guess that's what you get when you have 6 boys cooking in a kitchen!

Also, something else I'm sure you would love mom, our apartment has RATS! Apparently there has been a little rat living in the apartment for a while. Well, one night one of the elders felt the rats crawling on him as he slept during the night... he quickly jumped up, slammed the door shut to trap the rats, and then smashed the two rats to death. Pretty fun, huh? We have also gotten a rat trap (a small cage). For the past week we have left the cage out each night, and awoken in the morning to find a new rat in the cage. Someone will then let the rat out onto the back porch, and smash it to death! I think we have killed 7 or 8 now. It's pretty tasty seeing rat poop on your kitchen counter in the morning... ;-) We didn't catch any rat this last night though, so maybe they are all gone now! Hopefully. We'll see. If not... the smashing will continue.

This week we had a zone training, and it was focused on becoming consecrated missionaries. To kick it off, we each went around and shared with the group one person we look to as a consecrated disciple of Christ. Whether that be a missionary, a friend, a family member, or a church leader. Some people spoke of their missionary trainer, other's spoke of brothers or bishops, but out of the 20 missionaries, 5 of gave the same answer. They said their example of a consecrated person was their mother. I was among those 5. Thanks for being a great example to me, mom!

Also, just in case you are as interested as I am in evolution, I found this article on reation?lang=eng&query=evolution. Pretty straight forward. The church does not seem to support the theory of evolution. At all. I now feel confident that I can easily show a church member that God doesn't believe in the theory of evolution, and I also think I could stand up pretty well to a scientist on the matter. Very intriguing!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Code for the Kingdom

This week I had some fun times! One day I got to go back into my old area, Indiranagar, and see my old friends! It was great getting to see them all again. One cool person to see again was Sister Shashi. If you remember, she had a low paying job, but got an even lower paying job so that she could take Sundays off and come to church (although she was no baptized due to her husband). Well, here's something pretty spiffy! Her original job made 8000 Rupees per month, her new job made 5500 a month, but now she is working for 9000 a month! I consider that a true blessing from God for her faith and diligence. I'm so happy for her.

This week we also had Mission Leadership Council! It was pretty intense... our mission has dropped down significantly over the past year, so now these discussions on "what do we need to do to improve the mission?" are getting a little more intense... I think our mission may have some new rules rolling out pretty soon. Many of us are just too casual with this, the work of the Lord. 

Also, this week I got to attend an event called Code For The Kingdom. It was awesome! You can look it up online, but pretty much it's an event where programmers and designers come together for a two day coding marathon. During these two days their goal is to think of and design something that will benefit God and His kingdom, and/or help people in general. It was amazing to see so many people working together to use their skills for good. Here we had 100+ rich and educated people, and instead of relaxing and enjoying their weekend, they came together to do something great for the world. I enjoyed some nice food, and got to talk to quite a few interesting people. I didn't even realize how much I missed being a part of the tech world until I was thrown back into it! Although, one part of the tech world, video games, I now see through a new light. What a waste of time!

You might be wondering why I went to such an event (as you rightly should). Me and some other elders were invited to go there as a finding opportunity. All of these people are rich and educated (meaning they speak ENGLISH! woo woo!), and for the most part they are also Christian (much easier to convert a Christian than a Hindu). I had some interesting conversations with people, including one guy that was anti-joseph smith... as soon as he came up to me he started a confrontational religious discussion with me, and immediately the thought flashed in my mind, "you're stupid. this isn't going to go anywhere." Haha maybe that's not the best way to think... but in my belief, as soon as someone gets angry in an argument, they have lost the argument. Anger just shows that you are an undisciplined person, and why should I listen to someone that can't even master themselves? 

FORTUNATELY, I found a really prepared person as well. So, as I hear other missionaries about having these "I had a spiritual prompting to talk to someone, and it turns out they were totally prepared! stories, I've realized I haven't had one of those really happen to me. so I've been more specifically praying to be led to a person, and to know I was led to that person. I had my prayer answered! After I was done talked with one group of people, I was feeling really tired, and went to go sit down for a minute. As I was walking to sit down, I saw a guy and had the thought "I need to go talk to him.", but my laziness overcame me and I went and sat down... I decided if he was still there after I got back up, I would go talk to him. Well, after I got back up I saw that guy again, and again had the thought "I need to go talk to him." So this time I decided I better keep my promise to God and go talk to him. I didn't know what to say, so I just went up and asked him what his name was. But within minutes I found that this guy is WAY ready to learn! Usually I have to bring up the gospel with people, but this guy was anxious and ready for me to tell him more about what we are doing, and how we can help him come closer to God. Unfortunately, he lived in a part of Bangalore that isn't my area, but I'm sure the elders there will enjoy teaching a prepared referral. :-)

My District Buddies

Missionary Life

October 27, 2014

This week I gave a talk in Sacrament meeting on how members can better share the Gospel. I concluded my talk with saying "In the final day of Judgement, I don't believe God will care so much how many times we came to church, but rather how many people we invited to church." Not to brag, but I'd say it was a pretty well done talk! 

Also, this week was equivalent excitement level of Christians having Christmas: Diwali for the Hindu's! =D The grand holiday where people nearly blow themselves up by lighting more fireworks than I think most of them can afford. It was pretty awesome, but I was more than a little disappointed, because we ran all 3 days of Diwali, thus putting a big damper on the festival... plus, the area I live in is just filled with rich people, and rich people don't light off too many fireworks.... sad. Weird, but it's the poor areas that light off the most fireworks. Maybe that's because it's the one thing they look forward to all year, so they save up every Rupee they have for this festival, whereas the rich kids don't take seriously. Or potentially it's because the rich people are more educated, and thus they realize how dangerous it is to have their little 10 and 12 year old boys lighting off mortars... haha who knows. The one real highlight of my Diwali is when we took a late night auto ride through a sketchy neighborhood. THAT was awesome! Typical sketchy looking Indian neighborhood, with what sounds like gun shots and bomb blasts going off around you, and then seeing explosions right in front of the auto (haha the auto driver would get pretty mad when kids nearly damaged his auto...) Pretty fun, if I do say so myself! 

Diwali Fireworks

Just a random side note: As I take more and more plane flights, I've really noticed something sad: no one treats the air hostesses like people! Here you have these two cute peppy little women, saying hello and good evening to everyone as they board the plane, and everyone just walks right by them without even acknowledging their presence! I always make sure to say hello back to them. As I thought about it, I thought how interesting this is. Because, to be an air hostess, you have to be at least pretty attractive. So here you have these attractive young woman smiling and saying hello to all of these business men, and none of them say hello back. However, if these same men were to have the same encounter with the exact same woman outside of the airport (as in, one of these men had one of these cute women say hello to them out on the streets), I'm sure that man would light up with joy at the fact that he was getting waved at by her! But for some reason, as soon as that woman puts on her little air hostess outfit, she is no longer a person. I know this is a random observation, but I think about it every time I fly. Especially since one of my converts in Kakinada, Diana, said that her dream is to become a flight hostess someday, so I always think of her whenever I go flying. 

This week we helped to get 3 new Indian missionaries sent off to the Philippines Missionary Training Center. As I looked at these three starting their mission, I couldn't help but think "Oh man... do these people know what their getting themselves into?? " One of the sister missionaries seemed totally prepared, but the other sister missionary looked like a scared little girl about to get onto a roller coaster, and the elder seemed... pretty much like he had no idea what he was doing. It reminded me how crazy it is that the main portion of the church's missionary force is just little kids! How are we expected to move forward the most important work of our age?? Only by God's help, that's for sure. I'm sure all 3 of these new missionaries will do a lot of good with the Lord's help, and they will grow a lot personally as well. I know I've certainly changed a lot for the better. :-)

Sad story... so there was an elder that served in our mission 10 YEARS ago named Prasana Dass. He is somewhat of a legend in our mission, and he is one of the main reasons we don't wear name tags in Bangalore. On the first day of his mission, he and his companion went out to proselyte. Well, they came in contact with some BJP members (a political group that advocates a traditional India, not westernization/Christianization). These people invited the elders inside their home. Long story short, they got in an argument, the BJP members called the cops, they saw the inside of the elder's bags (which were LOADED with pamphlets), and they thought the elders were illegally converting people. The American elder was shipped out to Sri Lanka that night, and then flown from Sri Lanka back to America. However, Prasana Dass went to court. By the end, the court said they would drop the case if he paid them 15,000 Rupees (the equivalent of maybe $500 back in those days). Well, the church doesn't support the corrupt bribing system in India (which is one reason the church has so many struggles with the government here in India), so they didn't pay it. Well, guess what? They didn't drop the case. In fact, they STILL haven't dropped the case. And every couple of months Prasana Dass needs to come back to Bangalore for a "court hearing", during which they essentially say nothing, but just tell him he has to come back again in a couple of months. He lives very far away from Bangalore, but the church has agreed that whenever he has a court hearing, they will pay for a flight for him to come to Bangalore, and book him a hotel to stay in. And this has been happening continuously for the past 10 years. Well, this week he came to Bangalore for a hearing. Again, they told him to come back in December. But, here's the real problem. Before he left for Bangalore, he told his work that he had to take leave to come to a court case, but they didn't give him permission to take leave. Well... he HAD to come, so he just didn't come to work without their approval. Because of that... they fired him. :-( Also, you take into consideration that it has been difficult for him to find ANY job, because the employer sees that he has a running court case.. oh man. I don't know what's gonna happen with him. I'm just glad this whole incident hasn't made him leave the church! I really do feel bad for the guy though. 

Also, telling that story reminded me you asked me about Sri Lanka. So usually, the only missionaries we have in Sri Lanka are one or two couple missionaries. However, there's been a recent change to that! Now we are going to send any Sri Lankan missionaries that want to go on a mission to a different mission for a year (maybe the Philippines, Autrallia, or something like that), and then after the first year of their mission send them BACK to Sri Lanka for the second year of their mission. Which is really crazy, considering their only 3 branches in Sri Lanka... soooo... most likely they will be serving in their home branch at one point or another. Crazy. They want to send them somewhere else for the first year, to get a taste of how the church is run in more established areas, so then they can better help their own branches in Sri Lanka reach that level. Also, what I'M really excited about is that we are planning on sending the Assistants from our mission to go on exchanges with them from time to time... which means I may get to go to Sri Lanka! woo woo! 

Two last interesting things I've noticed as an Assistant. One, Indian elders will almost always call Elder George (he is Indian) when they have something they need to talk about, and American elders will almost always call me... hmmm. Interesting. Also, as we just finished some transfers, I've noticed the reaction of some missionaries to how transfer calls went are very short sighted. All they see is their little bubble (what should happen in transfers to best help their own situation), but they fail to look at the big picture. Because they don't realize, whenever you transfer one person... another person also must be transferred. Now... where do you put that other person? Or when we book plane tickets for people they will complain about not getting a good timing for their flight, and they will whine "why did the AP's book me so early in the morning!", never even thinking for a moment "Hmmm... maybe that was the only plane ticket available." But, I can't be too hard on them, because I had the same thought process as them just a few weeks ago! =P Now I know... you just gotta trust that your leaders know what they are doing.

My Zone

Monday, October 20, 2014

No, I'm not from Utah

This week I got to go back to Hyderabad to finish my work at the FRRO (foreigner registration for the respective area where I live). After 2 days, I successfully got a transfer paper from the Hyderabad FRRO, so now I can go to the Bangalore FRRO, and hopefully after a day or two there I will be registered here in Bangalore! I was very blessed when I went to Hyderabad though. I think I worked with the one woman in all of India's FRRO's the was actually friendly and helpful! It was amazing! She actually TRIED to help us, instead of seeing how much she could torture us! We sincerely thanked her after we left. 

While I was in Hyderabad I also got to go see my little baby, Elder Bandi! Haha he was so ecstatic to see me... even though it's only been like 3 weeks! He even wore his nice Sunday shirt and tie because he knew I was coming... cute cute. 

This morning after I finally got home, Elder Penugula (an elder in my apartment) came up to me and said, "Elder Anderson, are you sick? You always look so tired after you get back from traveling and exchanges..." All I could say was "Yup. That's because I AM tired..." :P

As I travel around our mission, I've gotten to meet a lot of elders I didn't know before. Almost always I have a conversation that goes something like this: 
"Elder Anderson, where are you from??" 
"Well, I'm from..." "WAIT! Let me guess."
"No, I'm not from Utah." 
"Are you serious?! Man, you look totally like a Utah Mormon!" Haha apparently I just scream Utah boy!

This week was also really exciting because our office couple missionaries, Elder and Sister Loewer, finished their missions! :( We definitely had an exciting last night with them! First, they took Elder George and I bowling! That was pretty cool. Then they had us over for an AWESOME dinner! REAL beef burgers, mashed potatoes, AND blueberry pie and brownies and ice cream for dessert! The mother-load!! :D We stayed and chatted for a long time, but finally around 10:30 we (me, Elder George, and the other 4 elders in our apartment) all said a final good bye to the Loewers before they left in a few hours, and headed back to our apartment (their apartment is the apartment building right next to ours). 

Well, we had a fun surprise when we got back to our apartment... So, a month ago, Elder Pilli came to Bangalore for Mission Leadership Council. Well, he accidently took our key with him back to Hyderabad... :P So for the last month all 6 of us were sharing one key. The good news is, when I went to Hyderabad to do my FRRO stuff, I got our key from Elder Pilli! But then when we got back to Bangalore, we gave it to a guy named Shanker to make 2 duplicates of it (one for the other companionship, and one to have as an extra). Weeeeeell.... we didn't tell the other elders we gave it to Shanker to make duplicates. All they thought is that we had an extra key with us. SO, they decided they didn't need to bring their key with them, knowing that we had an extra... so, when we got back to the apartment, we learned that Shanker had one of our keys, and the other key was inside our apartment....... So we went back to the Loewers apartment, and asked if we could sleep at their place for the night... haha I'm sure just what they wanted, 6 elders coming and spending the night with them when their taxi comes to pick them up at 3:30 that morning... First time in my life I brushed my teeth with just toothpaste and my finger! 

All in all, a fun, memorable experience. Reminds me of the time I stayed out too late at BYU, forgot my key, and slept outside from 4-7 until my roommates woke up to let me inside... Did I ever tell you that story?? It's a good one! 

Also, we inherited all of the Loewers unused food when they left... We've been eating pretty well these last few days. :-)

This week I had a talk hit me so hard as I read it. It was "The 7 Deadly Heresies" by Bruce R. McConkie. As I read the second heresy about evolution all I could think was "That's me! That is exactly what I think!! =0" I've always tried to combine my knowledge of the Gospel with my knowledge on evolution, but as I read that talk, I quickly realized that an apostle of the Lord thinks I am making a VERY VERY big mistake in my logic... I've done quite a bit of research this week on evolution from a Gospel stand point, and I've realized... evolution does not fit in with the Gospel! But... all I've ever learned in school is how evolution is so true and correct... I was feeling quite frustrated at these contradictions, so I decided to talk to the smartest guy in our mission: Elder Larson (he goes to MIT!!) I was fortunate to talk with him, because he told me that he has done a LOT of research on this topic, and has learned a lot. He shared with me quite a few flaws (from a scientific point of view) with evolution. Actually, pretty substantial flaws with the theory of evolution. But what he said most that really hit me was this: ALL true sciences bring us closer to God as we learn about them. They testify of God so clearly (chemistry, sociology, history, math, etc.) Everything that is, EXCEPT evolution. Evolution has caused more people to become atheist than just about anything else in the world. Hmmm... Also, the strongest proponents of evolution strongly tell others that God is NOT there. Hmmmm... that's a red flag. So not only may evolution be incorrect, but it may very well be inspired of the devil! I still haven't learned everything yet that I want to know on this subject, but believe me, my view of evolution has changed dramatically in the past few days.

These weeks are flying by so fast... it feels like I'll be talking to you guys tomorrow! So... have a great day!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Follow the Prophet

As always, General Conference was superb! I remember during the Saturday morning session when it got to the intermediate hymn I was thinking "What?! An hour has already gone by?! They just started!!" It was definitely a great spiritual experience. After conference was over, me and my fellow missionaries all agreed: Elder Bednar had the best talk. Hands down. But also, I thoroughly enjoyed Elder Callister's talk on parents being the primary gospel teachers. I'd say over my mission, I've come to really appreciate Elder Callister, and now he is one of my favorite people to listen to. One thing I noticed was that people talked about the prophet a LOT! How grateful we are to have a prophet, blessing him during the prayers, or sharing examples of things he has done within their own talks. Truly, he is a great man of God.  

Thomas S. Monson

 Gee wiz, I have so many great things to share from this week!

First off, we started going on exchanges with the zone leaders this week. Which is pretty awesome, because we take plane flights to go to their respective areas! It makes me feel pretty official, having flight travel paid for me so that I can go give training to the other missionaries. I had quite a few great experiences with them!

One part I really enjoyed was getting to go on exchange with Elder O'Dell. As you might remember, he was one of my companions in Indiranagar (Bangalore), so that was really sweet getting to serve with him again. He is one of my favorite companions. One what made it REALLY fun is that we were on exchange in Rajahmundry (the least speaking English zone in our mission), in an area that has the least English for all the areas in Rajahmundry! hahaha of man, the lessons were so funny! Half of the lessons we would speak baby level English, and the people could manage to understand, and then they would speak back in a baby level Telugu, and we managed to understand that. At one point Elder O'Dell even got a stick out to draw pictures on the ground to help them understand! It was awesome.

One thing that also really struck me was when we were teaching a very, very, VERY poor recent convert family. You know the houses they make on the TV show Survivor? Yup. Pretty much describes their living conditions. Instead of having the hut next to a beautiful ocean, it's next to a dirt field covered in trash. Delightful. It just made me a little angry that as we were describing the people in tents that surrounded the tower of King Benjamin, we described the tents by pointing to their own home... here we are in the 21st century, with incredible strides in technology, and yet people living thousands of years ago had better living conditions than they do! Why in the world is that??! Well, at least they have the Gospel now. That's better than all the riches in the world. They were a wonderfully humble and loving family. I'm glad I got to meet them. 

I was reminded what India is REALLY like. I've been living too long among the richest of rich Indians in the nation. 

Another fun experience was when I was on exchange in Visak. After District meeting, the whole zone went to lunch together. And, not intentionally, but as usual, all the Americans went to one place for lunch (Pizza Hut), and all the Indians went to some noodles and rice restaurant for lunch. No one ever intends to segregate Indians and Americans, it just naturally happens every time you do something together as a zone. We are comfortable with people that are similar to us. Just adds to the idea that people that are unrighteous won't even WANT to be in the Celestial Kingdom! Why would they want to spend eternity with people they have nothing in common with? 

I gave a lot of insights to the missionaries that I got to interact with. Hopefully some of it helped them in some way or another! 

On the way back, we had a 4 hour layover in the Hyderabad airport. Blah. Well, I picked up a newspaper (is that apostate for a missionary? I felt like it was fine!) and read through a few articles. One thing that really struck me was an article on what India is trying to do to solve it's power crisis. People aren't happy about having power cuts on a regular basis! And as I read this article I realized they are really TRYING to fix this problem, but they just aren't capable of producing enough electricity for everyone! Now, it gives me a new dimension ever time I leave a fan or light on. Because I left that fan on, that means there wasn't enough electricity for someone else to have any fan running in their house, because their neighborhood had a power cut (we never get power cuts. Our apartment complex has it's own generators. A LOT of generators.) Pretty sad, really. 

One last cool experience to share. So, one night we went out to visit a member's home. Unfortunately, she wasn't home yet, because she had to stay extra at work... Sigh... Well, fortunately there was a different neighbor that lives next door to her, so we went to go visit them instead. We just popped in, and of course they welcomed us inside their home. Well, as were talking and getting to know them I asked the husband, how he met his wife. He said "Don't ask me. Ask her." "Uhhh... okay. Lalitha, how did you two meet?" She was pretty silent. I was a little confused, "Why won't either of you answer that question??" The husband said "she doesn't want to tell the story, because that might stir up some romantic feelings in her." I was thinking "Uhhh... ya... so isn't that a good thing?" Well, come to find out, they actually hadn't been speaking with each other all day because they were angry at each other... :P But, this is what I am grateful for, we were able to help them bring the Spirit back into their home. We talked to them more about their marriage and how much they love each other, and shared a scripture on forgiveness, and by the end the husband went over and gave his wife a hug and a kiss. :-) Nice. 

Monday, October 6, 2014

Mister Anderson

Well, good news for me is I've gotten into the full swing of things here in Bangalore. I'm fairly confident doing my different duties now, and I'm beginning to learn our area pretty well also. Still, some things get a little stressful, because we deal with booking plan tickets for our mission, and dealing with big money can raise the stress a little bit... For example, I booked 4 people for the wrong time, and then to cancel their tickets it cost a total of 6000 Rupees ($100). Woops... fortunately, I then found an alternative for their travel that was 15,000 Rupees cheaper than the flight plans I should have originally booked, so all in all I saved 9000 Rupees! That's a month's salary here in India! 

Another fun, but sometimes stressful, part of my new life is that everyone expects me to have all the answers for their problems! Almost every night I get a call from someone asking if they can/should do XYZ, or what they should do to fix problem ABC. Uhhhh... I don't know what you're supposed to do! Although it's a tad bit stressful at times, it's also kind of cool having people listen to me. But really, it's kind of weird how much people listen to my opinions... haha. 

One problem though is when people don't like the answer I give (or that Elder George gives), so then they call the other person, and try to get the answer they want... Good practice for parenting I suppose, when Dad/Mom gives the "wrong answer", so the child goes to the other parent. You always need to be unified, even if you disagree with what the other parent said.

So, in my apartment, we have 6 elders total, and I am the only American; the rest are Indian. One night Elder George realized this, and asked if I was lonely, being the only American in our home. I said no I'm not, and really I'm not. I'm just fine talking to and being friends with Indians, as long as they can speak English! :P Fortunately, the elders in my apartment all have pretty solid English. There is even one elder, Elder Saroha, that is from New Delhi. Delhi people are... way American. In India, the country is very divided, North against South. I can see why! South Indians act like... Indians! Where as north Indians, especially those from Delhi, are waaaay westernized. Just for example, Elder Saroha will always refer to me as "Mr. Anderson", in reference to the Matrix. Or when we were walking this morning he started singing the Star Spangled Banner! What in the world?! Also, two Delhi sister missionaries were here for MLC this week, and they also were super American! One of them even used the phrase "shenanigans"! Rest assured, shenanigans is not in the typical Indian vocabulary. 

Also, here's another fun tid bit about Elder ******. So, this elder is... not the most obedient missionary in the world. In fact, most of his companions complain about him being a junk missionary... This week though, I learned something. Elder ******'s parents don't know he is on a mission. In fact, they don't even know he was baptized! He said "Ya, if my parents ever knew I was baptized... they would probably disown me." His family is Brahman, the highest caste in India. Getting baptized would ruin your prestige as a Brahman. His family is 110% Hindu. 

It just reminded me how we really have no room to judge others. We have no idea what situation they are in. Maybe some of their actions aren't the best. but for all we know, that person could be much more on the path to the Celestial Kingdom than we think we are. 

Tuesday, September 30, 2014



Well, this week for me has been craaaazy. I got transferred right into the middle of absolute mayhem! Trainers flying into Bangalore for training, then new missionaries needing brought from the airport, then getting the trainers AND their trainees all out to their respective areas, scheduling flight tickets for the Zone leaders coming into Bangalore for mission leader conference tomorrow, helping to prepare training for the MLC, collecting all the numbers of the mission, doing follow up calls late into the night, and all while we have 10 bajillion people staying at our apartment while they are in Bangalore! Sleep has been... a little less this week. :P PLUS, all the regular stuff with transfers (getting used to a new companion, new apartment, unpacking, learning a new area, learning all the members, etc.) For the first few days I was near delirious with exhaustion, but now the craziness has died down quite a bit. I think I'm starting to get into the swing of things. :)

I now live with rich people. Very, very rich people. This is our apartment complex, Brigade Metropolis. Our rent costs 2-3 times the average income of an Indian family. Whoa

I've also had the thought a couple of times, "Am I really a good enough missionary to be an Assistant..?" Thus far on my mission, I've always kind of seen the Assistant as near perfect missionaries, and I'm sure many other missionaries have the same thoughts. Can I live up to that high standard?? My end conclusion was that no, I'm probably not a good enough missionary. Yet. But, because the bar has been raised for me, I've already felt myself stretch as I try to reach that new standard. I'm more patient with my companion. More caring for those that live in my apartment. More diligent in my duties. More focused during teaching appointments. More aware of the other missionaries in our mission. Hopefully the stretching continues; I'm anxious to improve! 

On the flip side though, I did get to read something that boosted my self-esteem! My first night in Bangalore I was given a 15 page packet titled "Responsibilities of Assistants", to help get me up to speed on what I'm supposed to be doing. Throughout the packet, there were quite a few compliments thrown in for me (well, for all Assistants, the ones that read this packet). This packet was written by President Berrett, and many times in the packet it talked about how I have been called to this position because I am one that can be trusted. I don't know about for others, but that's one of the highest compliments I feel that someone can give me. That I am someone that they can trust. Also, I enjoyed reading "Ironically, you are probably one of the best teachers in the mission, but you will spend most of your time in the office." I'm glad to know I can be trusted, and I'm not too shabby of a teacher either! :-) 

Here's a random thought... in Bangalore, and in Hyderabad as well, I meet quite a few Africans. And I must say, I LOVE the African people! They are so chill. They are so calm, and very smart. They are not at all the stereotype that American give them. On my mission, I've definitely gained 10,000% more respect for Africans, and Muslims.

This week, I also learned a tid bit of information - when I am going home! I believe it was June 2nd. At first when I heard this, I was just a little disappointed to hear this, because that's three extra weeks after my 2 year mark (May 15). "Alright alright... I guess I'll serve a little bit longer. It's not that big of a deal." But then that same day we had a farewell devotional for 6 missionaries that completed their missions. During that devotional I realized... I don't want to go home! Sure, give me 3 more weeks! Give me as much extra time as you want! I love being on a mission! It really is the good life. Every week is a treasure. 

Here is one last story from my days in Hyderabad. Before I left, we went and visited the Murthy family. They seem to have really strong testimonies, buuuuut... they aren't coming to church. Blah. :P Well, when we got there, the mom was eating her dinner. Of course, they offered us dinner as well (all Indians are so generous, a trait I'm really trying to acquire). We accepted, and were grateful for the nice dinner they gave us. It wasn't too big, but it tasted very nice. By the end of the evening though, I learned that the husband had just lost his job this last week, and both he and his wife are searching for work. Also, they hadn't initially intended to give us dinner. In fact, they gave us the food they WERE going to give to their 2 children... As were leaving, I expressed my sincere gratitude to Brother Murthy for their kindness. He said it was his pleasure to feed God's servants. He said that he saw this as an opportunity to have a modern Elijah experience. He knew God would take care of them, if they took care of God's people. Wow. Remarkable faith. I was touched by their total trust in God.

These are my little girlfriends that lived downstairs in my Hyderabad apartment! Their dad is the watchman for the building. I love their family! They are all so nice.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Back to Bangalore!

September 23, 2014

Well, this week I'm emailing you a day late NOT because we had a lock down due to some crazy festival, but because today is TRANSFERS DAY! Exciting!
Elder Bandi has just completed his training, so, as usual in our mission, it's time for the trainer to get transferred. So, on Thursday evening I wasn't too surprised to get a call saying that I'm being transferred, but what DID surprise me is where I'm being transferred to! I am going back to Bangalore! Woo woo! But no, I won't be serving in Convent Road again, nor will I be serving in Indiranagar again. This time I am serving in the White Field branch! And, what makes this even more exciting, is the fact that Elder Anderson is becoming one of the new Assistants to the President!
I'm humbled to have the opportunity to serve in such a position. I anticipate that I will work very hard, have a lot of fun, and learn a lot. My companion will be Elder George (Indian), and he has already been an Assistant for a couple of months. He will go home next transfer though, so then I guess at maximum we will be companions for just a small 6 weeks! Also very exciting is Elder Bandi's new companion. The assistant that is leaving, Elder Larson, will come be Elder Bandi's new companion! He should feel very lucky; I know Elder Larson is a stellar missionary.
It was pretty memorable the night we got our transfer calls... We had gotten the calls like at 7 o'clock, and Elder Bandi was totally fine for the rest of the evening, but then after we finished planning he started to tear up a little bit... and then he just started bawling. Weeping and wailing. I wasn't really sure what to do, or even what he was crying about, so I just waited for a few minutes. Eventually, he began to compose himself, and he told me "There are 2 people that have given me life. One is my Elder (the one that taught and baptized him), and the second is... you." Then he started crying again.
After about 10 minutes, our neighbors actually came over and rang the door bell. They asked us if everything was alright. They had heard the intense crying, and thought that we were having a major health problem, like a heart attack or something! I told them no no, just we found out I was leaving for Bangalore in a couple of days, and my companion was really going to miss me.
I don't like to see my companion sad, but it does make you feel pretty loved when you see someone weep at the fact they aren't going to see you anymore.
I hope he's okay as he sees me get into the taxi and leave in a couple of hours...
Well, on a different note, I'll finish with one funny story! My life is always so humorous...
So, remember I told you about Divya? That awkward investigator that is a middle aged woman but seems to flirt with me? Well... here is another awk story about her. So last night we had one final lesson/goodbye with her before I leave, and after the lesson she tells us she has gifts for both of us! Really?? Well... cool!
So she hands us each a small bag, and leaves. Elder Bandi opens his bag and there is a blue tie in it. Nice. I open my bag and I have the exact same blue tie, BUT with an additional gift as well... a brand new cell phone AND a pre-paid SIM card! What in the world?? This woman wants to stay in contact with me after I leave for Bangalore!!  
Well, as it turned out, we had a member on exchange with us named Jude. Jude told us that he didn't own a phone! He said he always had to borrow his mom's phone, so he asked if he could have this phone Divya gave (he knows missionaries aren't allowed to have personal phones). The phone probably cost about $20-$30, so it's not too bad, but I knew I can't use it on my mission, and I wouldn't use it when I got back home, so I told him sure, he could have it. He just has to remember to help the missionaries every time he uses it! 
Well, that all seemed fine and dandy until Divya called us this morning and asked why I hadn't turned on the phone yet... uhhhhhhhh.............. Well you see...... Uhhh.. 
What am I supposed to tell her?! Probably the truth, huh? But... I'll leave Elder Bandi to figure this little mess out!  I'm off to Bangalore! :)

Monday, September 15, 2014

Life is Great

Well, this week was pretty exciting because it was week #11 of Elder Bandi's training! Maybe that doesn't sound very special to you all, but it's special to ME because for week 11 and 12 of the 12 week training, the new missionary... leads in everything. Which means I get to kick back and relax and watch him do all the work! Pretty sweet!

Well, I shouldn't say I make him do EVERYTHING, I still support him and help him.... probably way too much actually! I remember my trainer made me literally do everything... he would barely even talk during any appointments we had! But, I feel bad making my little baby suffer too much, so I still help him. I like to give him the allusion that he is doing everything though... haha it makes him so scared! But, it's helping him to learn a lot, so I guess that means I'm doing a pretty good job training him right?

Ya, our investigator pool is pretty slim right now... we actually had a special zone fast this week ask God to help us find more investigators (because ALL of Hyderabad zone is struggling). Hopefully we'll see some rockin' miracles with finding new investigators this week! :)

I think I mentioned a less active to you a few weeks ago named Solomon. He is really a good guy, and has a strong testimony of the gospel. He has just been offended by our Bishop... blah. Well, as we visited him this week, he showed us all of the Gospel books he has in his house. As he showed them to me, I realized that all of them are "deep doctrine" books. It made me think that he has made the mistake of trying to learn deep doctrine (a sandy foundation), instead of immersing himself in the simply and glorious basic truths of the Gospel. Just a good lesson for me to learn. Stay away from things you can't understand. Stick to the basic. That will keep you strong. 

Oh, just something fun, this week we had an investigator give us lunch! It was kind of strange, because he acts extremely homosexual... Not something that happens to you every day, having a man that lives alone who seems very very gay feed you a giant Indian feast! Pretty fun! 

Also, we continue to work with our recent converts each week. It's good thing we visit them... because even though they have been baptized, their testimonies still definitely aren't perfect! I'm happy I can be a tool in God's hands to help keep some of these people from going less active, and staying strong in the Gospel. 

Life is going great for me! Everything is awesome. :)
With a Ganesha idol and an Indian boy

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Awkward Moments

September 8

Today is the last day of the Ganesh festival! It's also a semi-lock down. We were still allowed to go outside and email (as you can see), and buy some food, but we need to stay in casual clothes, and then come home as soon as we are finished. Tonight it's supposed to get craaaaazy! Can't wait! :D

So, I have another quality story about Elder B from this week! It was during our companionship study, and we were studying eternal marriage. And as we were studying marriage, one thing led to another, and next thing I know I'm giving him "The Talk". Don't ask me why, but for some reason no one has ever explained these things to him! So, I decided it was worth spending some time on, and we spent 2 and a half hours discussing the birds and the bees... hahaha pretty fun, huh? Don't worry, I was totally mature and scientific about it. But really, I'm glad he finally knows about some of these things now! It would be kind of awkward if after his mission he got married and didn't know how to make a baby... I applaud myself as a wonderful trainer! ;P

Just a random thing I thought about this week... so, many missionaries from America get tired of everyone always looking at them as they walk around. However, I LOVE it! I love smiling and waving back to everyone as they stare at me like a zoo animal. This week I was just thinking about why I have a different reaction than most American elders, and I came to the conclusion that it's because of my lovely mother. Mom, you've set a great example for me! Whereas most people feel awkward and embarrassed if they are seen in a wheelchair, I always have seen you making eye contact with people, smiling and waving at them. Thanks for showing me how to be friendly, and not awkward. :-) I love the Wheelchair Lady! 

Three little awkward stories for you all. In progression from least awkward to most awkward.

1) One night we met a new investigator at a bus stop, and he walked us to his home. Well, as were were walking we quickly came to know that Vincent is not a talker. Haha you know, a really nice guy and all, but we just couldn't get the guy to say a thing besides one word answers! Fun stuff... it was only like a 5 minute walk to his house, but it took all of my social skills to keep at least some form of a conversation going! Good times.   

2) On a different evening, we were visiting an active woman in our ward named Gloria. She's a return missionary, and a cute peppy little woman, who unfortunately got divorced due to (well, from her side at least) her husband being a junk fellow. Knowing her, it probably was mostly the husband's fault. Anyways! So, one night as we were visiting her we saw her house was a little messy. Not her fault at all, I'm sure it's pretty difficult being a single mom, providing for a family and trying to manage 2 small kids as well. So, being the great missionary I am, I decided to try and help her clean her house. Well, I saw she had a pile of clothes that needed to be folded, so I went over and started to fold the clothes. Well, what do you know, but it turns out she had some women's underclothing in the pile... not too surprising in retrospect, really. She quickly snatched them away from me, and then I decided it was maybe for the best to not try and help her clean her house... I had good intent though! 

3) So, we have an investigator named D****. She is a really great woman, and readily agreed to be baptized on October 5th! Huzzaw! Well, that's all good and all, but the problem is... she is slightly flirtatious with us. Which, wouldn't really be all that awkward, except for the fact that she is... hmmm.. maybe about 35 or 40? Uhhhh.... creepy! :P Nothing TOO serious, but just creepy little things, like holding your hand a little bit after you gave a simple handshake, or asking us to come get lunch with her, or getting a little too close into your personal bubble when you are talking to her. Maaaaaybe it's all in my head, but... probably not. 

Monday, September 1, 2014

Overly Hydrated?

So this week we began the GANESH FESTIVAL!!! Wooo wooo!!! :D Well, actually, to be honest, I'm a little disappointed by it... I heard the festival is HUGE here in Hyderabad, but there has barely been anything! I think that's because it's been raining pretty hard the last couple of days. Indians HATE rain. Soooo... maybe that's why they aren't throwing crazy parties out on the street. :P Oh well, it's still pretty fun! Oh, and the craziest day is the last day of the festival, which is next Monday, so if I get locked-down and don't email you on Monday, that's why. 

Funny story about Elder Bandi... so, he was complaining a little bit to me that he can't seem to sleep through the night. He always seems to have to wake up and go to the bathroom during the middle of the night. He said one night he woke up 4 times to go pee during the night! Well, I asked him how much water he drinks before he goes to bed. He said he drank 1 liter of water right before bed... hmmm.. not the best. BUT, then to make matters even worse, he told me he drinks one liter of water every time he wakes up and goes to the bathroom! What in the world?! I told him to stop drinking water during the night... that will solve his problem. Haha I'm raising a small 26 year old baby... ^_^

This week I reviewed with Elder Bandi the talk "Becoming a Consecrated Missionary" by Elder Callister. He was really pumped up after reading this talk, and really wants to consecrate himself. He asked me to ask you to send him any suggestions you have on how he can become a consecrated missionary. He really does want to change!

This week we visited a very interesting less active named Brother Solomon. He is a returned missionary, and was Elder's Quorum President just a few months ago, but now he is totally inactive! Why?? Because he got offended by our Bishop... sigh... as we talked to him, he told us how he still has a totally strong testimony, and he still goes to church every week... just not to our ward. Oh man. A lesson to me: don't be a baby. Don't get offended by your leaders.


August 25

This week the Ganesh festival starts!!!!!! :D I've been looking forward to this bad boy all year! We all got an email from the assistants today though, that says we won't be having any lock downs this year; just be careful. Should be interesting, considering I am in Hyderabad, where the Ganesh festival is the biggest in all of our mission! It's gonna rock!!! 

Two funny stories from this week: 

So one night as we were sitting outside a couple little girls came up to talk to us (like 6-10 years old). I believe all three of them identified themselves as Muslim. We talked to them for a minute, and then they left. Well, 30 seconds later they came back. The oldest one asked us "you give blessings to people, right?" "Ya, we do", I replied. She then asked if we would give her a blessing! She told us she was having a really bad head ache, and her nose was bleeding on and off. For a second I thought "Are we allowed to give Muslims blessings...?" But, then I thought about it. This girl has faith. She believes God can help her. And the believe our blessing will help her get God's strength. Even if she is only 10 years old and a Muslim, God can bless her just as much as he can bless anyone else! So, we gave her a blessing. :-) They said thank you and then walked away again.

Well, 30 seconds later they came back again! This time one of the younger girls asked for a blessing as well! Apparently, she was having a stomach ache... haha I think just felt left out and wanted to get a blessing, BUT, we felt like if she really wanted a blessing, we'll give it to her. 

Story #2. So, we were walking down a pretty main city street. Cars and motorcycles going by us, people walking everywhere, and businesses all around us. Well, we saw a cow walking by. Fairly common. We then saw the cow start to go pee. Again, pretty common. BUT, what was special was seeing an old man, as soon as he saw the cow start to pee, halt in his tracks and reach out his hand to get some of the urine as the cow is peeing! He then proceeded to fling this pee around in the air! I guess this gives him blessings or something? But what was even funnier was the fact that he was right next to a coconut stand, and when he started to wave the cow pee around he got some pee on the coconuts. The coconut man got pretty mad and shewed the old guy away! hahaha simply awesome.

Oh India. So random. 

A more serious story from this week. So, we have one of missionary leaders in Hyderabad that is... not the most Christ-like leader. In fact, he has exercised quite a bit of unrighteous dominion on me and my companion, especially this last week. Naturally, this made my companion and I pretty upset with him. At first, I thought I wanted to take a Christ like approach and help give this leader a correction. Murmuring and complaining only makes the problem worse, but if I gave him some constructive criticism, maybe he could become a better leader.

But as I thought about it some more... I thought of a better option. I decided I would apologize to this leader for any way that I had been disrespecting his authority. I was inspired by a Liahona (church magazine) article where a dad goes to apologize to his son, rather than getting angry at him, even though it was likely the son's fault that the problem had arisen. When I told Elder Bandi that I was going to do this he said "Why! You didn't even do anything wrong!" Yes, I know it was mostly the leader's fault, but I was part to blame for not being more humble. So, that evening I called this leader, and gave him a sincere apology.

Our relationship is now much better. 

More and more on my mission, I have seen the power of apologizing. It really can solve just about any conflict.