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!