Thursday, July 31, 2014


Well, the big news of this week isn't very happy... Elder Bandi had his uncle die. :( I remember it was Thursday afternoon, and we got a call from President Berrett. He asked us if we had a minute to talk, and I said ya. Then he started talking to Elder Bandi. At first Elder Bandi was happy and excited to be talking with the mission president, but after a minute of talking his face totally changed... after the call he burst out in tears telling me how his uncle had just passed away.

I've done my best to comfort him during his time of need, but I'm not good at comforting people! What am I supposed to do with a crying man?? I just don't know... The biggest thing I've probably done to help is enlisting the help of other people to comfort him. Like for example, I texted the sister missionaries in our zone and told them they needed to call and comfort my companion... I don't know how to help him, but sisters are supposed to be good at consoling people, right?? They did call him, and I think that helped him a little bit. 

The really exciting part though is that the next morning we took an early morning flight to Vizag to go to the funeral. It was a crazy whirlwind of a day. Our flight left at 7 am, so we had to leave our apartment at 5. We spent the day at the funeral in Vizag, and then our flight home didn't land until 10 o'clock that evening. I was so zonked out on the flight home that I fell asleep in literally what felt like 10 seconds. I only vaguely remember waking up for a few moments during the flight to hear the people next to us ask my companion "Hey, why are you crying??" and he told them "My uncle just died...." and then I fell back asleep. I feel bad for the guy. 

My companion has an interesting family. They have all of the dad's side living in one house! 35 people in one home! They have 20 more members in the family, but now they have moved out. So many people! It was kinda weird being there, because at first I just felt like a 36th wheel in this big family group (believe me, I stick out like a big ole sore broken thumb in this group, being a white tall foreigner dressed in a shirt and tie...) Fortunately, after a few minutes the kids got over their shyness, because of COURSE they want to come talk to the foreigner (who wouldn't??) I ended up spending the whole day talking to like 6 or 7 kids. It was great fun for me! By the end of the day, this kids knew me and my family so well that when an adult in the family would come over and ask something like "how many brothers and sisters do you have, where are you from, etc. etc." the kids would shout out the answer before I even responded! haha. The kids all wanted my autograph before I left... cute. :)

I feel like I was at least able to help the family a little bit, by bringing some happiness and joy and excitement into their lives (especially among the kids) while this horrendous trial is going on in their lives.

I really felt bad seeing my companion though. He was in hysterics over his uncle passing away. And his family wasn't doing well either. He is the only church member in his family; the rest are Hindu. It was interesting to see them prepare the body, and then burn it. Very different than a Christian funeral. 

Preparations for a cremation on an an open-air funeral pyre. In India bodies are cremated on open funeral pyres

But now my companion has improved a lot, and the way I am helping him is by putting him to work. Work is the cure for worry!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Lungi Dance

Most exciting thing of this week! Yesterday and today there is a huge Hindu festival going on in Hyderabad! It's just a local festival, but it is still AWESOME! As we tried to get back to our apartment last night, we had to navigate our way through a big part of the festival. It was by far the best dance/rave I've ever gotten to pass through; definitely smokes any stake/school dance I ever went to! Just tons and tons of Indians swarming everywhere, with music blasting loud enough that people for miles around can probably hear it! (one of my favorite Indian songs they like to blast is called Lungi Dance (from the movie Chennai Express, I believe), if you want to hear some modern Indian music! And the best part is seeing all of the Hindu god idols. These things are like 20 feet tall demons! They have fog machines going around each idol, and of course big flashing lights everywhere. I might have been a little scared going though such a place, but fortunately they had police everywhere to make sure things didn't get too crazy... :)

The other big highlight of the week is our investigator Lavanya! I think I mentioned last week that we got her as a referral from one of our members, and she is so great to work with! She is one of those people that actually have good LEGITIMATE questions! Many people have dumb questions ("Where does it mention Joseph Smith in the bible?? I can only believe he is a prophet if the bible says so." Dumb.) But she actually has a lot of great concerns, which I love working with! She claims she hasn't felt God's love in her life, she doesn't know if God exists, she wants to know what happens after she dies, and many other wonderful things that I love to talk to people about! Most importantly though, I'm very grateful we have a great investigator that Elder Bandi gets to work with. Mission work is fairly demanding at times, but getting to work with a great investigator makes it all worth it. :-)

You asked if I had any leadership positions, and I would say YES, more so now than ever before. Being a trainer has waaaaaaaaay more responsibilities that a district leader or a zone leader (those are a piece of cake!) Teaching a little baby how to walk though takes a lot of work. But no, I don't have any other positions on top of being a trainer. 

Just a funny story about my companion... So, he has limited English vocabulary, and even less Gospel vocabulary, so when he was getting interviewed to become a missionary, he didn't understand what all of the questions meant! But instead of asking "what does that mean??" he would say yes to every question, until he got to certain points when he would say yes and then President Berrett would say "Really?? =0" and then he would say "wait! No no no! I meant to say no." "oh... okay. that's all fine then." hahaha of Elder Bandi... I think he would have passed anyways though, even if he HAD understood all of the questions! ^_^

Also another fun little tid bit about my companion... he LOVES me! haha not to be prideful or anything, because from what he tells me it sounds like he would love his trainer no matter who his trainer was (he was just very excited to get a trainer to teach him everything!).  

How to Microwave Curry

Here is a picture of me and some other missionaries. The girl in middle with the green shirt just got set apart as a missionary (I even got to participate in the setting apart! So cool!!) She is going to serve in Arizona! I told her over and over how excited I am for her to get to go AMERICA! So awesome!
July 13, 2014

For me, this week has just flown by! Working hard makes time go faster, and I am definitely working hard right now on my mission. Training and learning the area are still both pushing me quite a bit; fortunately, I don't feel too stressed about it anymore. We are definitely making progress each day. :-)

And good news, my Indian English is as strong as ever once again! I even did a little bit of English-English translation for one of the new American elders that was trying to ask a guy whether he liked chicken or mutton Haleem better (haleem is like liquid meat. I had it once, but I'm not too big of a fan of it. Haleem shops are eveeeerywhere though!) Anyways, ya, English-English translation always cracks me up!

I've found that I train Elder Bandi in a very similar way to how Elder Watts trained me. I heard as I was growing up that you tend to parent in the same style that your parents parented you, so I guess I can now attest to the truthfulness of that because I train my missionary son the same way my "Dad" trained me! 

And really, it is like raising a son... haha you wouldn't believe how many things I need to teach Elder Bandi! Naturally, he doesn't know missionary work, but what really cracks me up (or sometimes frustrates me) is he doesn't know how to live outside of home/away from his ever giving mother. One funny example... so, we bought some curry from an outside shop, and then the next day we wanted to heat it up in the microwave. He asked me if he could put it directly into the microwave. I told him no, because the curry was only in a very thin plastic bag, so the microwave would melt the bag. I handed him a glass bowel and told him to put the curry in that, and then he could heat it up in the microwave. Well, he followed my instructions word for word! He put the plastic bag of curry into the bowel, and then asked if he could heat it like that. Yes, as in there was a little plastic bag filled with curry sitting inside a glass bowel.. haha I thought that was pretty funny! Kind of reminded me of an Amelia Badilia experience. Next time, I will be more clear; EMPTY the bag of curry into the bowl! 

Super awesome thing about Hyderabad: they have RUNNING buses! Which, as the name implies, means you have to RUN when taking a bus! The buses stop at the bus stops, buuuuut, they only stop for like 5-10 seconds, and then they get going again. So if you haven't made it on the bus... better run to catch up! And getting off the bus you need to get off facing the same direction as the bus is moving, otherwise you could very well fall over if you try getting off against the way the bus is going... danger. Fun. Excitement!

Speaking of buses, today we were taking a bus and all of the seats were taken except one, but the seat was in the senior citizen section. Well, as I was scanning around to see if there were any other seats available, one of the old gents invited me to join them in the Senior Citizen section! Haha all of the other missionaries that were traveling with me were laughing and motioning for me not to sit there, but sit there I did! I felt honored to get to sit next to three old Indian men, as the rest of my missionary friends stood for the whole bus ride. Haha good times.

We have been spending most of our time trying to find members and less actives and recent convert's homes. Our investigator pool is... slim to none. BUT, this week one of our members that recently returned from his mission gave us a GREAT referral named Lavanya! Look at him, actually doing missionary work after his mission is over! Huzzaw! I'm very grateful for this opportunity to teach her, because I want my companion to get a chance to teach an investigator. Every missionary years to have that experience, and as of yet.. he hasn't gotten to yet. But this week we begin teaching her! A true tender mercy! 

Back in India - Training

July 6, 2014

Well, I am officially back in India! And it is still just as crazy as ever! I've been surprised at how much I forgot about India, even in just 6 weeks... I've been relearning how to eat spicy food, how to speak Indian English, and relearning the culture (e.g. only use your right hand, no one ever has change at stores, etc.) It's kind of weird relearning everything again, but fortunately this time I am learning at a highly accelerated rate. Instead of taking weeks to master some aspect of India, it only takes me one time to hear about it again, and then I've got it down again. Fun stuff! 

This last week has also been absolutely insane this week because of my new assignment... For the first time on my mission, I get to be a trainer!! woo woo! And to make life even more spicy, we are white washing (i.e. two existing missionaries leave and two new missionaries take their place) in the Hyderabad West Marredpally 3rd Ward! Let me tell you, these last couple of days have not been easy. Training is difficult, and white washing is difficult, but when you put the two together... wow. It's been making me stretch. 

I'm very grateful though that we are taking a sister missionary's old apartment! On the first day I was feeling pretty stressed out, so it was nice to walk into a clean apartment (good 'ole sisters, actually cleaning the place before they leave!), AND the apartment having nice things (like COUCHES!) They like to give good stuff to sisters, so it was nice getting to inherit their stuff. :)

Although, the apartment did have some hick ups in it... we spent our first day trying to get everything working properly! The A/C was broken, as well as the washing machine (two critical things!) But, we have the A/C fixed now, and a brand new washing machine! Huzzaw! I really appreciate a good washing machine after having to hand wash my clothes in the Philippines... :P

My companion is Elder Bandi. He is from Vizak (a city in our mission). So yes, he is full Indian! That has been good and bad. Good because he can help navigate India some (even though he isn't from Hyderabad), but also difficult because his English is... mas o menos. He's a great guy though, with lots of good desire to learn and improve!

And, there have been quite a few things I've been trying to teach him. Along with the ins and outs of missionary work, I am also teaching him how to live on his own. From what he tells me, it sounds like he is a rich kid, and his parents did everything for him. So I've been teaching him things like how to tie a tie, how to cook top ramen, how to wash your clothes, what to buy when you go shopping, how to clean the apartment, etc. Sometimes I think he is asking questions that should have pretty obvious answers, but then I think about my training... I asked pretty random questions as well. They say your trainee is your son, and now I finally understand. I really do feel like I'm raising a little boy! ^_^

One difficult thing is we don't know where anyone lives... the first day we were shown one house by a sister missionary that used to serve here (one of her converts), and that was the only person's house we knew! So the next day we went to go visit Sister Anna Radha, just to say hi because we didn't have a brother so we couldn't go inside to teach, but Anna Radha gave us a very pleasant surprise! We she realized we couldn't come in without a brother, she went across the street, found an old man just sitting in his house, and asked him to come over to her house for a few minutes. When I asked her if she knew him, she said no! haha she just grabbed some random guy so that we could teach her! She was just baptized a few weeks ago, and she was a Hindu before. Her faith is incredible! I hope to get to work with her a lot. :)

Life is fun and difficult right now, but I think after another week or so the difficulty will calm down a little bit, and the fun will roll on! 

Almost Home

July 1, 2014

I'm currently traveling back to India right now!! Me and Elder Mangum went to the Hong Kong airport, and WERE going to fly to Bangalore, but our flight from the Philippines to HK was delayed for so long that we missed our flight to B'lore, so now we are scheduled to go to a flight to Singapore, and then from Singapore go to Bangalore. We have to wait a few extra hours, so they gave us some meal vouchers! woo woo! The other guy going to Bangalore got so angry about our delay, and was insulted that the airport thought they could make amends by giving us some little meal vouchers, but I am delighted at their kindness! I bought myself pizza, salad, soda, cheesecake, hot chocolate, AND a chocolate chip muffin for later! what could be better than that?! :D

Well, life is going great! The Hong Kong airport is HUGE! It takes us like 20-30 minutes to walk from one side to the other! And tomorrow morning I will be in INDIA!!! Awesome!!!

Going "Home"

Me and some of my adoring fans in the ward. What can I say, little 14 year old girls love me!
Me and the best Ward Mission Leader ever! Brother Richards! He is handicapped physically, but super strong spiritually! Same with my mom. :-)

June 30, 2014

Well, tomorrow I leave for INDIA!!! Ahhhhh! I'm going home!!! I can't wait! Yes, I do love the Philippines, and I'm very glad I got to serve here, but I'm ecstatic to go back to my mission home. It's kind of like how going to India has made me love America more. Yes, I LOVE India, but being in that country has made me appreciate my home country so much more. That is exactly what the Philippines has done for me in relation to India. I can't wait to go get some spicy rice again!

To be honest, I've probably been getting pretty area trunky here... it's just tough to stay motivated, knowing in a couple of days you will be leaving this country never to return again. Hopefully, I won't get trunky at the end of my mission, because at that time I'll be leaving another country (India) never to return again. Well, actually I might go back to India, but not for a while at least. Mostly it was just with learning Tagalog that I got trunky with. It's hard to put effort into learning a language that you know you will never speak again in a matter of days! Haha well, at least I learned my Tagalog testimony while I was here, so that's pretty good, right? :)

This week we had the Baptismal interview for Apple DeVera and her children! Apple has been an investigator for THREE YEARS! But at long last she is ready to be baptized! I'm a little sad that I will be missing her baptism this Saturday, but it doesn't really matter whether or not I personally baptize them, only that SOMEONE with proper priesthood authority from God does the baptism! 

These last couple of weeks we have been working on building Apple's faith that now is the time for her to be baptized, and that this is the right thing for her to do in her life. She comes to church every week, but she was hesitant to make the commitment that this is what she needs to do for her WHOLE life (and beyond!) Inch by inch though her testimony has been strengthened, until now she is ready to go! I'm excited for her and her family. :)

This last Friday was also Apple's birthday, so me and Elder Consego bought her a delicious chocolate cake! She was very very grateful for it. In fact, she said thank you like... 20 times. Haha no joke. I was happy that our small offering could make her so happy! This actually illustrates something I have learned on my mission: how to SPEND money, especially on other people! Most people say they learned how to spend money on their mission, as in they learned how to NOT spend money, but really I have learned how to blow money on my mission! Haha before my mission I was very stingy with ever penny, but now I've learned money is meant to be spent, and it brings me joy being able to spend a little bit of money to bring happiness into the lives of others. Just one of the many things I've learned on the mission!

Also, I wanted to tell you something that I think Dad would be most happy to hear. On my mission I've finally come to realize that I wasted far too much of my life on video games and Facebook.... :P They have a lot of internet shops here in the Philippines, and the shops are always loaded with teens playing their online games. And all I can think is "You're wasting your life away!!!" There are so many good things to be doing right now, and you are going to spend the next couple of HOURS playing League of Legends?! And then when I'm at members homes, sometimes some of them won't join us for the lesson, because they are too busy on the computer... are you kidding me? You're going to message your friends pointless things on Facebook instead of coming and hearing the word of God? REALLY? Truly, I am going to spend significantly less time on FB and gaming after my mission. And much MORE time in the scriptures! I'm ashamed that every day I would spend 2 hours on Facebook, and barely more than 2 minutes in the scriptures... Was I even active in church?? Barely. I will do much better post-mission!

Well, I'm gonna go email some of my peeps, and then go to the biggest mall in our mission before I leave back to my Un-American home that I love oh so much! Have a grand week!


From June 22, 2014

Well, the highlight from this week isn't very exciting... the biggest thing from my life this week is I got really sick. Blah. :P I had to stay inside for 3 days! I'm not really sure why I got sick, although every couple hours my companion would throw out a new reason as to why I possibly got sick: the pollution, the food, the heat, etc. haha so maybe it was a host of reasons for why I got sick! Right now I'm feeling... hmm... maybe 85% better. Pretty good, but I hope to recover more in the next day or two.

This was my first real time getting sick on my mission. I've had a couple minor ailments here and there, but those have past in a couple of hours. This is the first sickness that has really hit me hard for a longer period of time. But, I guess I've done pretty well for not getting sick for so long considering the countries I've been living in! ^_^

One night, as my sickness was beginning to decrease, I told my companion I wanted to go out and try teaching some of the investigators and recent converts that live close to our apartment (like a 5 min walk away). He jumped on me saying that, because he was more than ready to get outside after being indoors for so long.

One of the families we went to is the Bobilies family. Without a doubt, they are my favorite family to teach in this area. One, because they speak English, so they can understand me. But also because half the family is super awesome recent converts, and the other half are great investigators. A perfect family for missionaries! 

Well, we ended up teaching them a very basic lesson on the importance of scripture study. But... even with that I struggled! Haha my companion taught for a couple of minutes, then turned towards me, indicating it was my turn to teach, and the rest of the family shifted their attention to me, expecting me to say something, but I couldn't think of anything to say! My brain was still so out of it... For a couple of seconds everyone just stared at me, and then finally the mom asked "Elder Anderson... are you okay?" I replied "Ya... I'm okay. But just okay." After a little more thinking, I was finally able to come up with something to say, but I'm glad I had such a big brain fart with a family that we already have a very good relationship with. It would have been really embarrassing to have had that happen with other investigators!

On a side note, the mom is still an investigator because of Law of Chastity problems. The problem here in the Philippines is it is virtually impossible to get an official divorce in this country (it costs a lot of money, like a million pesos). So people very very frequently just separate, and then start living with someone else, because that's free. So, that's what Sally Bobilies did. She is a great woman, very kind and caring, a very good mom, comes to church every week, reads her scriptures every day, but can't get baptized because technically she is living with a man that isn't her husband.. This is a very common problem in the Philippines, and the church has made some rules and exceptions to help these people, but it's still difficult.

Also, Crizel Bobilies (I think I mentioned her last week) came to church this week! woo woo! Awesome possum! She also knows that I really like anime, so she drew me a sweet anime pic and gave that to me at church! Wow, what a great blessing after being sick - having your investigator come to church for the first time ever AND give you an anime drawing!

My Philippines District
Game Night

Law of Moses

From June 16, 2014

So, here are a whole bunch of random things.

Remember on my Mother's day call I told you guys that I had heard the Philippines had very disobedient missionaries? Well, I learned that our mission USED to have a ton-oh disobedience.  Since then, President Sperry has worked very very hard to create an exactly obedient mission. I applaud him for his work, because the mission is quite obedient now, but it has definitely come at a price. Now this mission is... without a doubt living the law of Moses. Example: in this mission, you can sleep in on p-day if you want, but only if you get up at 6:30 and say your prayer. THEN you can go back to sleep. Because the handbook says Arise at 6:30, so you need to be obedient to that! Or, another example, the other day we were with a 17 year old investigator named Ryel, and this guy is a total computer junkie. He had his laptop right by him, so I had the thought "let's introduce him to Mormon Messages! He is always on the computer, so then he can be on the computer AND feel the spirit!" So, I got him to Google Mormon Messages, and was about to watch one with him, but my companion stopped me and said we're not allowed to. We're not allowed to watch Mormon Messages?? Apparently we are only allowed to watch them on Mondays, so we weren't allowed to watch one with Ryel right then... because THAT would be disobedient!  

I'm grateful that President Berrett (in India) emphasizes principles, because having 10 bajillion random law of Moses rules kind of frustrates me... Plus, I feel like I have gained a lot more life wisdom that I will use after my mission thanks to my strengthened ability to understand/live principles. 

On a complete different note, the girls here in the Philippines wear short shorts about 90% of the time. However, that does not mean they shave their legs 90% of the time... haha oh man, I have seen some hairy legged girls the last couple of weeks! I think one girl at church hasn't shaved her legs for like 3 weeks... tasty, huh? ;)

On a mission, you have communication errors with your companion a lot. YSA boys are bad at communicating in general, and when you need to communicate/coordinate with another YSA guy 24/7.. there are bound to be some misunderstandings. ESPECIALLY when you and your companion don't speak the same language! Haha my comp speaks English to me, but English isn't his strong suit, and for the first week or two he would sometimes throw Tagalog words into his sentences, not realizing they aren't English words... haha but now he speak at least English words all the time! But, I only think that if I can learn to effectively communicate with someone that doesn't speak much English, than communicating with a wife that speaks perfect English should be a cinch, right?

One of my favorite investigators we've been working with is a young woman named Crizal. She is almost exactly like Katy Coons! It's exciting to work with her, because with each lesson she doesn't make leaps and bounds, but slowly, steadily, and consistently she is improving. At first, she wouldn't even join her family for the lessons. Then we helped her to come sit in the same room. Then later she started reading some of the Book of Mormon. Then later she was willing to say the closing prayer. And now she says she will come to church this Sunday! Woo woo! I'm excited to see the life changes she is making. :)