Monday, February 24, 2014


MOST exciting for this week was getting to work with our all-star investigator: Shashi! This women is one of those people that was TRULY prepared by the hand of the Lord. I'll tell you a little about her story.

So, she was found about a week before I transferred to Indiranagar (so about a month ago). But the WAY she was found is pretty special. Apparently, the elders from Indiranagar were visiting the White Field branch for a meeting, and while they were there a different elder introduced them to the Whitefield security guard named James, and told them that he is interested in learning more about the Gospel, and he actually lives in the Indiranagar area. The guard said that they could come visit his home later that evening, but he gave them.... not an exact address. To give a comparison, he pretty much said something along the lines of "I live in Holiday Hills, You can come visit me anytime after 6 tonight."

So, when the elders got back to Indiranagar, they got to work trying to find Jame's house. They went to "Holiday Hills" and started asking everyone if they knew where James lived. Eventually the talked to someone that said "Ya! I know James! He lives right down this street, last house on the left." 
"Okay great, thank you!" 
"And you're coming from church, correct?"
"Ya, we are."
"Okay perfect, then ya that house is definitely the one you are looking for. James goes to church."
"awesome! Thanks for your help!"

So the elders went and knocked on the door, and surprise surprise, James DID live there, but it was a DIFFERENT James than they were looking for! Amazingly though, he invited them in (which is a miracle in and of itself, because later his wife, our star investigator Shashi, told us that he never lets strangers inside). The elders then started to teach the family, and the wife, Shahi, was very very interested. 

As a matter of fact, James is Christian, but Shashi is a Hindu. BUT, she had seen some miracles in her life that were causing her to believe in the Savior, and she had actually contacted a local church's pastor and asked to be baptized that month (this month). But that day she had been praying a lot, and asking if this is really what she should do. And then that night, elders come knock knocking on her door. 

She said that she felt something different when the elders taught her.

And, she continues to have spiritual experiences, during every lesson, and almost every time in between each lesson, as she prays and does her best to keep the commitments we give to her. Her life really and truly is changing. 

What's really amazing to see is how the Gospel really is the beacon of hope that needed in her life. Shashi lives in a... not so good environment. James, her husband, has word of wisdom issues, so he spends all the money he earns from work to satisfy his addiction. So that leaves Shashi to work to earn enough money to support the family, AND she still has to do her regular house wife duties. The home they live in would shock you, to know that a family actually lives in there. But, it's the best she can do. 

Really, before we came, the only thing that brought her happiness in life was her two adorable daughters. But now she gets to enjoy the joy of the Gospel of Jesus Christ! :) Every time we visit her she just smiles from ear to ear.

One night James told us "My wife loves the things you have been teaching her. Every night she'll stay up till 2 AM reading those pamphlets you give her!" Shashi then told us "Well, they're just so interesting!" 

Please note, she doesn't get the kids in bed until 10 or 10:30, and then has to wake up at 6 in the morning to get ready for work. Wow. Gives new perspective when people say "I didn't have enough time to read my scriptures, do my home teaching, prepare a lesson, go to that service project, etc. etc.

It's amazing to watch someone that really has never experienced the Gospel at ALL, and see how it really does change her life. So cool. 

Monday, February 17, 2014

Treasure Hunting

Well, today me and my companions went and celebrated our various month anniversaries in the mission. On Friday it was my 9 month mark, on Saturday it was Elder Peck's 21 month mark, and yesterday was Elder O'Dell's 15 month mark. So, we partied hard to celebrate! We went to a place called the Spaghetti Kitchen. It is an unlimited Italian buffet. All the pasta, pizza, bread, pastries, fruit, appetizers, ice cream and brownies that you can eat! It was top notch!

I did feel a little guilty though spending 590 Rupees on a lunch though... Sure, $10 doesn't sound like much, but when you compare 590 to the fact that a lot of people only earn 300 Rupees a day.... ya. You feel a little guilty. In comparison to people around me, I am definitely living a higher lifestyle than I ever ever ever will for the rest of my life. 

This week we've been doing a lot of treasure hunting! We are hunting for all of the less actives in the branch. Which, sadly, are quite numerous. Also sadly, many haven't been visited for a long long time, so when we finally track down their home (Some of their addresses are quite vague, similar to saying "Holiday Hills" as your address), we only come to find that they have moved a year ago. Really though, that's fine, because Bangalore is really pushing to become a stake right now, and part of the qualifications to become a stake is to have a good Shepherding Ratio (Hadn't even heard of that until I came to Bangalore). So, we are going to have all of the people that have disappeared into the "Lost Sheep" file (hadn't heard of that either), so then Bangalore's shepherding ration will go down! woo woo!

Also, as we search for homes, we get to talk to a lot of different people (Hey, do you know this person/know where they live???) And sometimes, that leads them to such questions as "Why are you here in India?? Are you studying?" So then it makes for an easy street contact! 

One awesome experience with that.

So, we were searching for a brother's house, and we knew which street we needed to go to, but while we were traveling there Elder O'Dell felt inspired to go ask a family if they knew where this brother lived (they had a Christmas tree still up, so we knew they were Christian). At first he thought that was a silly prompting, because we already knew where to go, but we decided to follow his prompting anyways. 

We asked the sister that answered the door (her name we found out is Karen) if she knew where this other brother lives, and she said yes. She then told us where to go (the direction we were already heading), and then asked what we were doing here in India. We explained that we were teaching people more about Jesus Christ, and the first thing she said after that was "Well then, when are you coming over to my house??"

What?! Did my ears deceive me!? 

She then asked how long our message takes, and we said 20-30 minutes. She said "Oh no, that's just not long enough! You need to stay for at LEAST an hour!" 

Yup. We can do that.

But then she said "But, you can only come to my home on ONE condition..." Oh no. She's going to say she doesn't want us to try and change which church she goes to, she's already been baptized, or some other disastrous condition. 

But, instead she said "The condition is that if you come over and teach my family, you have to let me feed you dinner."

Yup. We can do that also. 
Wow wow wow. Can't wait to work with this family! :)

I'm working harder than I ever have on my mission, and although our success as measured by numbers is very pitiful, I'm still having the best time on my mission thus far! Life is really good right now. :)

Bangalore Zone Missionaries

Monday, February 10, 2014

New duties, new companions

Well, this week has definitely been a bundle of fun! In my first week as a Zone Leader, I got to attend the monthly Missionary Leadership Council, and then we had our monthly zone training on Friday. Both very exciting! I've already begun to develop a new perspective on missionary work, being in a position that helps to look at the bigger picture on where our mission is going, and how we can get it there faster. I really enjoy the extra work that comes with being a leader, because as a missionary you are always yearning to have more work to do! 

Speaking of work, in our area.... haha I'm not sure whether I should say there ISN'T much work to do, or there is a TON of work to do. Currently our area has... one real investigator. Haha there a couple more kind of investigator-ish people, but our teaching pool is pretty bare as of now. Interestingly though, even though this is the first "dead" area I've been in on my mission, me and my companions have been working harder than I've ever worked before! I love being with elders that are tons of fun to be around, but also obedient and hard workers. I dare say that this might be my favorite time thus far on my mission. 

Right now we have a zone leader trio. Me, Elder Peck, and Elder O'Dell. All awesome guys. Every day is a party with these elders! Elder Peck is from some small town in Idaho, and Elder O'Dell is from Utah. Elder Peck was the Idaho state basketball champion, and Elder O'Dell is the co-inventor of the Color Run! It's really cool getting to serve with people that I really would be friends if we met outside of the mission. Because ya, you become friends with all of your companions, but it's neat getting to be with people that you just naturally would want to be friends with. 
Elders Peck and O'Dell - p-day in the mission office
Oh, and I got your guy's package today! I, and my companions, thoroughly enjoyed it. :)

And even more exciting news! Guess what I had for the first time in India?? A real live BEEF burger. Ahhh. So good. 

Indiranagar Branch building
So, this new area I'm serving in, Indiranagar, is the EXACT same area I was in on my first day as a missionary in India. 8 months ago I served my first day in Indiranagar with Elder Ram, who was one of our Assistants. I can't even tell you how much my perspective on the exact same area has changed from then to now.

Day 1: Wow... this place is so much different than America!!
Now: Wow... this place is almost EXACTLY like America!

Day 1: I can't understand anyone here! And they sure can't understand me... does anyone speak English in this country??
Now: I can't believe how well people speak English here!!

Day 1: This city is so dirty and gross...
Now: I can't believe how clean this city is! 

Day 1: This heat is unbearable...
Now: Awesome! I'm barely sweating! 

Day 1: This food is so spicy... how am I going to survive?!
Now: This food is wonderful! Not to spicy, but enough flavor to keep it good. 

And the list goes on and on. It really is how fast a mission changes you. 

Hopefully being changed in a good way! :)

Monday, February 3, 2014

Lessons in Leadership

For many people here in India, going to the temple is a once in a life time opportunity. And for many other church members, it's a blessing not be enjoyed until the next life. Our closest temple is the Hong Kong temple, and it is an enormous financial burden for a family from India to go there. Hopefully India will have its own temple within the next 10 years! :)

Hong Kong Temple

Well, crazy news for this week. I got transferred! 

I just got here! 

But, I'm not moving too far away. I'm transferring to a different part of Bangalore (right now I am in the Convent Road branch, and I will be going to the Indiranagar Branch). 

It was really weird saying goodbye to everyone at church yesterday. It really is amazing how attached you can become to people in just a few short weeks! And definitely the hardest goodbye was to Manjula, Vidya Sri, and Dinakaran. I love that family so much!! 

I told them on Friday that I was leaving on Monday (this evening). It was interesting that the three mentioned above definitely looked sad when I said this, but the dad (Raman) was just in utter disbelief! He's only been there for 2 of the lessons, so I didn't have that solid of a connection with him, but he expressed how sad he was I was leaving, because he knew how sad his family would be. 

He told me "You know my family is in love with, right? You need to make sure you come back and visit our family a lot. At least once every 15 days, but preferably once every 10 days. If you want I can come pick you up on my motorcycle, or I can just give you some money so that you can travel over here yourself. And this Sunday, I INSIST that you come over to my family's home! We want to prepare you a big going away feast."

And, he held true to his word. Last night I had one of the best dinner appointments of my entire mission. Vegetable biryani, fish fry, chick ka-bobs, beef curry, soda, and vanilla ice cream for dessert! I felt extra special that they had taken note a couple of weeks ago that I said beef curry was my favorite, so they made sure to prepare that specifically for me (beef curry is not something typical for Indians to eat). 

We also had one last great lesson with them on the importance of reading the scriptures, and faith. I hope very soon the father will start coming for more lessons, and he too will join his family in the Gospel. 

Truly though, it was a great way to finish my time in Convent Road. :) 

Saying goodbye to the Ramen Family

I also have some more exciting news about my transfer. So, last week our zone had interviews with President Berrett, and during my interview, we had a conversation that went something like this.

First, he told me that he was disappointed in me for the way I handled a situation 2 weeks ago. I had told him in my weekly letter 2 weeks back that one of the elders in our apartment was so stressed over missionary work that he wanted to go home. So, me and the other elders in the apartment took him out for a day of fun and enjoyment to help him calm down. 

President Berrett told me he saw my line of reasoning, but that I hadn't used the best judgement. 

Obviously, I was feeling pretty bad right about then, hearing him say he was disappointed in the way I acted. :(  But then he said this.

"But Elder Anderson, I don't want you to be thinking that I only think only bad things about you, because the truth is, I don't. I'm actually very pleased with the work you have been doing, and I think very highly of you. Which is why I would like to call you as one of the new zone leaders for the Bangalore zone, starting next week."


I haven't even mastered being a little district leader yet! :P 

On the way home from the interview, all I could think of was a paragraph from my favorite talk (Becoming a Consecrated Missionary). Essentially it says that God won't let us be content with our weaknesses. He will rip us out of our comfort zone again and again until we become strong. I guess God sees my weakness as a leader, so He wants to rip me out of my comfort zone once again! :P

Wish me luck!