Monday, April 20, 2015

Coming Home

I will see you all in a very short time! Can't wait to give you all some big hugs! :-) Thanks for all of your love and support!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Read the Book of Mormon

April 13, 2015

This week I got to hear General Conference, as usual it was absolutely AMAZING!! I learned so much. I noticed they had a TON of talks on family! I guess I better hurry and start my own family... haha. 

I and the other Elders followed traditional Mormon tradition and went to get ice cream after the priesthood session. I bought a THREE DOLLAR chocolate fudge sunday! So yes, it cost a small Indian fortune, but it was such a massive Sunday that I struggled to finish all of it. Good times with General Conference! 

One of our investigator's named Reggie comes from a very very poor family. He has been struggling to find work, but recently he found a pretty good job. After learning that he was about to start his new job, we taught him about tithing. When we asked him if he would pay his tithing on his very first paycheck he said "of course brother! I was already planning on giving God money for blessing me with this job." It's always touching as a missionary when I get to see the great faith of other people. 

President Berrett gave all of us a challenge to read the Book of Mormon in 2 months, and as we read to highlight all of the references to faith, repentance, baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost, or enduring to the end.

I started at the end of last week and now I am already on chapter 4 of 2 Nephi! My plan is to complete the challenge, and then email president Berrett from home that I finished strong and completed his challenge. :-) I am learning so much already from this reading of the Book of Mormon, and I feel the Spirit SO strongly as I dig deep into the word of God. 

We have an investigator named Mary who talks, a lot. Our first 3 visits with her were 3 HOURS. Each. Then a couple days ago we went by just to say hello and see how she was doing. We thought it would take 5-10 minutes. We ended up staying for an hour! haha oh the people you meet on your mission! 

I'm really gonna miss my friends in India though... Vidya Shree and Dinakeren really do feel like my brother and sister. I am going to miss them so much. But I guess I get to go home and see my real brothers and sisters, so that's pretty awesome also! 

Dad/Bishop Anderson, I have a request of you. Sometime in the near future after I get home, I would LOVE to go out with you and meet/visit the recent converts in Oly 3rd ward. I know you already have a busy schedule, but I can't think of any better way to spend some time with my dad than to go out and do missionary work together. 

Really, I can't believe this is the last week of my mission... it is truly unfathomable. Obviously I have been blessed abundantly here in India, but I think the greatest blessing I have received is that I now have complete confidence. I have confidence when talking with mortal men and women, but even more importantly I have complete confidence before God. I would have zero problem if Christ came down right now and judged me and my life. I am confident that I am well on my way to reaching my eternal potential. I know I have still have a mind boggling amount of things to improve upon, but I know what path I am on. To say my life course has flipped a 180 from serving a mission would be an exaggeration, but it has definitely been altered by more than 1 or 2 degrees. My whole life will be better because of the time I spent serving the Lord.

I can't wait to see all of you next week!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Final 2 Weeks

WOW! Noah that is awesome!! I definitely didn't expect Italy for you, but now that I hear it it seems to fit perfectly for you! :-) When I was at BYU I became buddies with one of the temple workers at the Provo temple, and he also served his mission in Italy. He said he gained a TON of weight, because people fed him tons of delicious pasta all the time. I don't think you will have a problem with the food. :-) 

I had to laugh at little bit at your comment that I didn't get the timings, classes, or teachers I wanted... haha but really, I'm sure whatever happens will work out well enough. I'm sure you still got me signed up for some good stuff. Thanks for taking care of that for me; I'm sure you guys did a lot of work to get me signed up for my classes. 

Oh! And Happy almost birthday to you Abbey! You are one person that I never forget the birthday for, because when you were younger you would always remind us that your birthday is April 8th. I hope you have a great 15th b-day!

This Saturday was Zone Conference. The tradition in our mission is that the soon-to-be going home missionaries share their testimony in their last zone meeting before they leave the mission field. I've seen many Elders give their final testimonies during the course of my mission, but it always seemed as though it would never happen to me... well, it finally was my turn on Saturday to share my last zone testimony. I don't even know why, but I couldn't stop myself from choking up while giving my testimony! I had to stop looking at the Elders around me, because looking at them as I bore my testimony was gonna make me cry! I don't even know why, because I don't feel sad going home. At least up until now, I have no regrets from my mission, and I know I will still be a missionary when I go back home, so I have no need to be sad about not doing missionary work, and I know I will stay in contact with all the friends I've made on my mission,I even know I will come back and visit India again someday, and of course I will serve a couple's mission one day, so really there is no reason at all to cry! Similar to starting a mission, finishing a mission is a bitter-sweet experience. 

But take for example this week we were teaching our potentially gay less active member Savio. He lives in an old run down Tamil medium (speaking) school, and we were teaching him at the back of the school. We were each sitting on three large bricks, because there were no chairs. As I looked around at us sitting on bricks, in the middle of some run down school yard, and us teaching the Gospel to some Indian who has lived a life of who knows what, I couldn't help but think, "I'm gonna miss being a missionary." There are just some experiences that you have on a mission that you can't have anywhere else. To be allowed into the deepest parts of hundreds of strangers' lives allows you to learn more than anything a school could ever teach you. 

It's also interesting as I look at the 3 other Elders in my apartment. I can very clearly see old parts of Elder Anderson in each of them. Things I did or ways I thought at the beginning of my mission, but not anymore. I am happy to say I am not the same person I was at the beginning of my 2 years.

But, obviously missions are not easy, nor are they always fun. In fact, they are quite stressful! My mind is constantly thinking about our plans, and backup plans in case Plan A fails (which it often does). Who are we going to visit? What if they are not home? What are we going to teach them? What if they didn't keep the commitment from last time? Do we have appointments for tomorrow? Do we have a member coming with us? What if that member doesn't show up? What if that lesson goes too long? Will we still have time to get to the next appointment? And so on and so forth. Today marks the first day of the last 2 weeks of Elder Peter's training though, and on the last 2 weeks it is up to the new missionary to lead the area. It's weird to think, but those questions are no longer my job to worry about now! Elder Peter is in charge of figuring those things out for 2 weeks, and then I no longer need to think about them anymore... Weird. Really weird. That's all I ever think about! All I know how to do is to be a missionary! It is my prayer that my transition to home life will go well. I'm sure it will be just fine! 

This last week, President Solomon spoke in the Indiranagar branch Sacrament meeting, and his talk was so good that the news of it got passed around the zone. President Solomon used to be the India Mission's mission president back in 2000. He shared that when the year 2000 started, the missionaries all set a goal to have 1000 baptisms in the mission during 2000. The saying became "1K In 2K". They also realized though that they would need God's help to accomplish such a goal, and to get God's help would require complete obedience. So they made a list of specific mission rules they would track, and had each Elder report on his obedience level each week. Well, at the end of 2000 the mission had 614 baptisms. Pretty impressive, but not quite the goal they were hoping for. Well, guess what the average level of mission obedience was for the year? 61%. Whoa. Other than 4 freebie baptisms that God just handed to the elders, they reached exactly 61% of their goal with exactly 61% obedience. Truly this is a clear and powerful example of the power of obedience. 

This week we visited one of our old woman investigators named Sunnunda Raj. She lives in a very nice home, and clearly her family is very well off. Well, as we got to know her better, she told us about her trials in life. Her husband is having an affair with another woman, her husband is very controlling of her and until recently wouldn't even allow her to have any friends over, and her daughter also doesn't like her at all. Wow. I contrasted that with the Lakshmanan family we visit, who are semi-recent converts to the church. They are VERY poor. They don't even have running water in their home. But they tell us they are happy. Happiness and peace is in their family. It still amazed me how often I see that money does not make people happy or bring them peace in life; only the Gospel can do that. 

Testimony meeting yesterday was touching in our branch. Many people that have big barriers to bearing their testimony still went up and shared! A couple of small kids went up. Deaf people went up, and had a member translate what they were signing. An old woman went up who knows NO English, but had her family write out a simple testimony for her so that she could sound out a simple English testimony. Even a brother named Prakash went up to share his testimony in English, and he had tears in his eyes by the time he finished, despite that he has the English level of a 5 year old in America. The church in India has great difficulties because it is run in English (imagine trying to establish the church in Washington by only speaking Spanish!), but it truly touching to see the faith of the members, as they do the very best they can to participate in church, despite their lack of English skills. 

Last night as we shared an Easter message with a recent convert, he asked us HOW are we resurrected? I told him quite frankly that I don't know! All I know is that it really will happen. As I pondered this on the walk home, I realized how the Gospel and science are very different in that regard. In the Gospel, we know the WHY for everything, but almost never the how. (I know Jesus Christ suffered for my sins because he loves me, but I have no idea how a man 2000 years ago felt my pains today and paid the price for them). Where as in science they can tell us the how, but never the why. (We know that molecules generally want to fill their shells with an equal amount of electrons to their protons, and we can measure where and when and how they get those electrons, but we have no idea WHY they want to have those electrons. The most my science teacher could say was that having a full valence shell makes the molecule "happy" because it balances the positive and negative in the molecule, which is not a real reason at all because molecules are inanimate objects and can't be happy or sad!) The same could be applied for almost every Gospel principle, as well as scientific discovery. How blessed we are to know the how's of science, in addition to the why's of the Gospel. 

I am still enjoying my mission a lot, and learning a lot as well. I hope you all can say the same for your lives as well. 

Monday, March 30, 2015

Giving Blessings

That is a bummer Noah didn't get his call! For sure next week I went to hear where you are going, little bro. But that is awesome Adam and Chelsea are having a boy! That is super duper awesome! My vote is to give him a cool Book of Mormon name. Moroni Anderson. Sounds pretty good, eh? Sorry to hear you aren't doing well mom. I hope you get well soon. I am pretty happy you got through the OT though. Gee wiz, that book confuses me a lot... maybe someday I'll build up the courage to really dig into it. Abbey, you stated your routine as if it's a bad thing! Seminary is great, school is great, homework can be fun, and sleep is a true joy! What's not to like? 

I think the highlight of this week was how many priesthood blessings we got to give. During this one week we gave not one, not two, not three or four, or even five or six, but TWENTY THREE blessings! Let me tell you, my Priesthood is well exercised. One of our investigators, Nirmala, took us to a lot of her friends and relatives and asked us to give them all blessings. This week we gave blessings for everything from financial problems to shoulder pains, leg pains to diabetes, and even a couple that has been trying for 8 years to get pregnant. Really, it has been a pretty awesome experience seeing so many people's faith. Even though they are not members and don't know what the priesthood really is, they have faith that God can heal them. And many of them told us that they DID recover after the blessing! I know my testimony of the priesthood is still growing, so it has been a great week for me to be able to use the priesthood so much. I always feel the Spirit so strongly after giving a blessing to someone. 

We also went and blessed one of our member's construction site. They are building a new home for themselves. It was really weird though.... so they live like a 100 second walk from their construction site, but they wouldn't come with us to dedicate the site! I guess they didn't want to walk over there? So the only people that were at the construction site were a couple of construction workers, who of course speak zero English, so me and Elder Peter couldn't even explain to them what we were doing. So we just awkwardly stood in a corner of the site and I gave a small prayer... really weird experience. 

This week as we talked to one of our investigators, Paul, I realized how different I have become on my mission. Paul and I are both 21 years old, but as I look at him and his life I realized that he is almost exactly what I would be like if I had just been at home for the last 2 years, but not at all what I am like now. I will be forever grateful for the great changes in myself that I have been able to experience because I came to serve the Lord. 

This week we did a little bit of door knocking. We have to be very careful though, and make sure we are only knocking on Christian doors, because of all the Hindu stuff that is going on in politics nowadays. It was a lot of fun! We were invited in by semi drunk old guy who fed us some delicious rice with tomato curry, and then he showed us his daughter's maturity function photos. I had to introduce Elder Peter as to what a maturity function is. Apparently they don't have those in north India, so he thought they are as weird and hilarious as I do! Haha a giant party to celebrate a girl being able to give birth to children... I guess in reality that IS something we should celebrate, right? It's a great blessing from God! 

This week we have also had a lot of touching experiences with Jude (remember? He is the guy that asked tons and tons of questions when we taught him). This week his mom was admitted to the hospital. And her condition is very, VERY serious. She is having lung and kidney failure, and is in ICU right now. Obviously I can't really fully imagine what it feels like for them, but I tried to put myself in their shoes and could easily see just how painful it must be for their family right now. The first day she went into the hospital they had a good 10-15 family members at the hospital. Since then she has been in the hospital for 3 or 4 days, and they keep family members there round the clock. They will take shifts who stays there, so that she will always have someone with her. Jude told us that he knows many pastors, but he has faith in us, and that is why he asked for us to come and pray and bless his mom. Constantly his family is telling us that they know only by God's grace can their mom/wife be healed. 

To be honest, I feel completely inadequate in these situations. What I am supposed to say as 10 people surround me with tears in their eyes, many of them being 10-20 years older than me, and expecting me to make the problem better? What can I possibly say to bring comfort these people that are suffering so much? We have visited them 3 times this week, gave a blessing once, and prayed the other two times, and I have done my best to testify of God and His power, but oh how I wish I had greater words to give them... I was reminded of a time a few years ago that Bishop Anderson (Dad) was asked to give a prayer at a funeral. I remember he typed up a prayer, and put a lot of thought into what he could say to comfort the people there. At the time, I thought that that was kind of weird (come on, giving a prayer is easy, right?), but not I can totally understand his feelings... I wish I had had a nice typed prayer that I could use! 

I feel the Spirit so strongly as I am with this family during their great trial. Their faith is superb. And whenever I go over to the hospital it really does wonders to put all of my small little problems into proper perspective. 

On the 3rd time we were heading out of the hospital, as soon as we got out onto the sidewalk, we saw a YSA guy tear by on the street on a very powerful motorcycle. After he raced out of sight, it made me think about how unintelligent and careless he was being. After just being with a family that is in near hysterics because their mom is quite possibly going to die, it was a very stark contrast to see someone who apparently did not have much understanding for how valuable his life is. How inconsiderate to risk your own life! Ya, if you die, great. Whooppy-dee-doo. No sweat for you really. But it is your FAMILY that is going to pay the price. They are the ones that are going to have their lives turned upside down because you thought it would be fun to have some thrills on your motor bike. It gave me added resolution that one, I will never break the speed limit (knowing that the speed limit is calculated by professionals who are allowing you to go as fast as you possibly can without increasing your danger of death), and two, that I am going to be more careful with my life in general. It really is sad to see how one person's death can hurt their family so much.

All in all, I would say I learned a lot this week. Even in the last month of my mission, I am always amazed at how much I have to learn!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

beware of the birds

March 23

This week we were searching for some less actives on the membership record that no one knows about. We met one woman named Rosalind Brenda, and she told us that elders used to come visit her years and years ago, but no one has visited her in at least 2 years, and the time she came to our church was about 10 years ago. I asked her when she was baptized, and she said when she was a baby. Assuming she was Catholic before, I was then more specific and asked when she was baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Her response? "I was never baptized in your church. I just came and visited it a couple of times. Me and my family are all Catholic." Uhhhh...... What?? Either one, she has somehow forgotten about her baptism (or is lying about it), or two, someone in the church thought she was a member and entered her name and address into the membership list... Either way, I'm a little confused. She told us to come back in a couple of weeks, so I'll be interested to see what happens if we get to work with her more. 

In my 19 years in America, I can only remember being getting pooped on by a bird once, and then one other time it hit my backpack. In just 2 years in India, I had my FOURTH time being pooped on by a bird this week! haha... :P 

It's interesting, all the other Elders around me keep telling me how I only have 1 or 2 weeks left of my mission. I tell them to stop trying to cut my mission short! I have a solid month left! At other times my apartment mates tell me how they are way trunkier than I am, which is funny because they have been out for 7, 5, and 2 months... haha I guess that's good I'm not trunky! 

Elder Peter has really good English, but he has watched a lot of Hollywood movies and they use some English words that are very inappropriate but you wouldn't know that by how frequently they use them. This has caused him to pick up a few bad words unknowingly. This week I taught him that he shouldn't use the D or N words... Funny stuff! 

So in our branch we take in all of the deaf members for Bangalore, no matter where they live. Because of that, Convent Road has sign language interpretation during Sacrament meeting. This Sunday we had an old woman give her talk in Tamil, and because I know almost zero Tamil, I found that I got a lot more out of the ASL translation of her talk than what she was actually saying! No, I still don't know ASL all that well, but I sure know it a lot better than Tamil. 

This week as we were walking back home one evening, we saw an older woman and a YSA age girl helping an old man walk. Elder Peter stopped and asked if we could help. Of course they said no, but as we were about to walk away they struck up a conversation with us. As it turned out, they are strong Christians, and the mom had just had her brother pass away 9 days before. They were inviting any pastors or evangelists to come give prayers at their house, and told us that we could come over and give a prayer. We said we would be delighted to! So we went over and shared just a small message (because it was already almost 9, and we had to get back to our apartment). We shared 1 Corinthians chapter 15 about how Christ will bring to pass the resurrection on all of us. The mother who had her brother die started to cry, and chant hallelujah as she bowed down touched my feet (a sign of GREAT respect in India). To be honest, I was a little uncomfortable by this... But a couple days later when we visited them again she told me how the words we shared had really touched her heart, and she definitely wants us to come back again. All in all, a really great experience! And I'm excited to have some new investigators to work with. :-)

Park Kissing

March 16

One funny story from the week. So, one day Elder Peter was telling me about Delhi, and it went something like this. "There is a very famous park in Delhi, a park filled with sin and temptation. This park is only for couples, and even though there is no wall or anything around it, couple inside the park are breaking the Law of Chastity!" At this point I'm thinking "What in the world?! Is this for real??" But then he goes on to explain, in complete seriousness, "Ya, in the park the couples are... kissing!! Kissing! Right where everyone can see them!" Haha... guess that just goes to show the difference in morals in America and India. =P

There is man attending our branch for this month that is from the USA. I asked him why he is here, and he said it is for medical reasons. You came to India for a doctor?? Apparently the medical stuff he needs done would cost $10,000 in the US, but only $3,000 here. Well worth the cost of the plane ticket!

Speaking of medical stuff, I have a story for that also. Remember how like 10 years ago I had a really bad stomach ache, and all of you were thinking I was a baby, but then I went into the doctor and had to get surgery? Well, the same thing happened again! Not me this time though, fortunately. One of my apartment mates, Elder Cloward, had a lot of pain in his gut area for a few days, and finally went into the hospital, and after doing some scans they saw his appendix was inflamed and was about to burst, so they took it out... wow! He is all fine now though. 

While he was gone, along with his companion Elder Thompson, our apartment was a lot of different. It was MUCH more clean, quiet, peaceful, and obedient. But... it was also much more boring. It made me think about you two, mom and dad, what it's gonna be like for you after this summer. Me and Noah will both be gone, and all you will have left is Abbey. I'm sure that will give a much different feel to the home. 

This week we found an AWESOME investigator family! NINE people were in the home when we taught them! And they were all girls! Good thing we had not one but TWO brothers with us on exchange, because that helped to balance out the hormones in the room. haha. They were a referral from Keerthi Sagar (who was on exchange with us to show us this home, along with our EQP Deepak). Apparently they are friends with Keerthi's cousin Nancy. Interesting, he doesn't even really know them but he still referred them! If only all members could share the Gospel like Keerthi... We taught them the Restoration, and they all seemed to be fairly accepting of it. They all agreed to read 3 Nephi chapter 11 and pray to know that the Book of Mormon is true. It was a little intimidating teaching so many brand new investigators, but all in all it went really well. 

Hopefully they will all receive an answer this week that the book is true! =)

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Watch Out for Splinters

March 2

Okay, I got a GREAT story from this week! So on Thursday morning as I was finishing breakfast Elder P called out for me, so I went to see what the problem was and he told that he had a stick stuck in his foot. I quickly saw it was an itsy-pitsy splinter. I told him to just take it out, and he told me had been trying but couldn't do it. "Elder, I think I need to go to the doctor for this!" "Wait wait wait... you don't need to go to the doctor. Let me get some tweezers for you." So I went and got him some tweezers, and through much moaning and groaning he tried to pull it out. Apparently he was unsuccessful, because 10 minutes later he called me back to say that he had pushed the splinter deeper into his foot, and now he couldn't even see it anymore! But his foot was still hurting a ton, so he wanted to go to the doctor and see if they could extract it out of him. So I called Sister Berrett and she gave permission for us to go to the doctor. He told me "Elder we need to leave right now for the doctor! My foot is hurting so much!" "Okay we will leave now, but just get a shirt and tie on first because we need to look like missionaries when we go outside." He replied "Elder! There's no time for that! We need to go now!" So he went to the front door, and I quickly popped on a tie and we headed out with him still in his PJ's. We went to St. Philomena's hospital, where after waiting in line for a while we finally got him registered at the hospital (for 200 Rupees). Then we waited for a while for the doctor, and after the nurse finally called us in she took a look at his foot, and said she couldn't see the splinter, so we needed to do an X-ray. So went to another part of the hospital, and for another 230 Rupees they took an X-ray of his foot. We then went back to the nurse, she let us in to see the doctor, and the doctor told us "There is nothing in your foot. You must have already gotten the splinter out. Just put some ice on your foot, and come back in a week if it still hurts." Well, the doctor was right. After another hour his foot felt fine. So we spent 2 hours of our day at the hospital, got an x-ray, and Elder P spent 430 Rupees, all just for the doctor to say "You're fine." Moral of the story: look out for splinters! They can be trouble. 

This week I also taught Elder P how to make Dosa, a south Indian breakfast item. I thought it was somewhat funny that an American was teaching an Indian how to make Indian food. haha. 

Today I went and bought a couple more souvenirs, and even though India is a country of bargaining, I've cut back big time on how much I will bargain. I've come to see over the course of mission the kind of homes that sales people live in. They aren't that nice. Take the worst home you have ever seen in the US, shrink it by 50% or so, and that's what these people typically live in. So why should I cause a big argument to try and save myself 50 cents, or maybe even a buck or two? To me, a dollar means almost nothing. To them, they can eat for a day with that money. I still won't let them totally cheat me and rip me off, but I'm okay spending a few extra cents to make their day a little brighter. 

We went to visit a recent convert named V yesterday. A couple great things about that visit.

1) He gave us Krispie Kreme doughnuts!! He delivers Krispie Kreme doughnuts to their various branches in Bangalore, and he brought home some of the extras. Definitely the best snack a member has ever given us!

2) He invited his brother-in-law to join the lesson with us. His brother-in-law was a total separate part of the house, but Vishnu wanted him to learn the Gospel. Constantly I am amazed by how recent converts share the Gospel 10,000 times better than long time active members. 

3) Vi told us about a decision he recently made with work. Obviously, people want doughnuts every single day, so he doesn't get a holiday, including Sunday. He has to work 7 days a week, every week. Because of this, he is only able to attend Sacrament meeting, because he has to hurry and leave after that to deliver more doughnuts. Well, he told us that he doesn't like doing that. He wants to stay for all of church, and he wants to keep the Sabbath day holy. So he got another driver to take his deliveries on Sunday, and he agreed to pay that worker all the money he would earn from his Sunday deliveries. Let me tell you, Vishnu is not a rich guy. Not at all. But he was willing to take 1/7 cut in his pay so that he can come to church and follow God's commandments. He told us he has total faith God will bless him for doing this, and everything with his financial stresses will work out fine. It's always touching to see the amazing faith of others. 

Motorcycle Sitting

February 23

This week I had a lot of fun experiences!

On Saturday morning we went and visited an Australian member in our branch named DM. His company put him up in some ritzy hotel, so it was cool getting to visit his in his temporary home. For me though, it is always really weird teaching people that speak English, because I don't know what to say! Most of the time I spend the entire lesson desperately trying to help someone understand the most basic of basic doctrines, but with someone that speaks English already.... it's too easy! I teach for 5 minutes, he understands everything, and then.... I don't know what else to say! It's the opposite of what I was 2 years ago; all I would search for was "Deep Doctrine". But now I don't know how to learn or teach any doctrines above what a primary student should know! Oh the changes you have on your mission. 

Another fun thing is that whenever I see Elder B (he is serving here in Bangalore) I always see him wearing the shoes I left behind In Hyderabad. I was just going to throw them away, but he took them and now uses them every day. I always think it's cute to see my missionary son LITERALLY walking in his dad's shoes... haha.

So, there is a YSA girl in our branch named S. She's a pretty fun gal, and her family are all members. Well, one day as we were walking home we saw S on the back of a motorcycle with an unknown YSA guy. She was laughing and smiling until she saw us, and then she immediately got quite and put her head down... we didn't say hello to her, because it was very apparent she didn't want us to be there... haha I love awkward situations like that! Almost guaranteed her parents don't know she has a boyfriend (that TOTALLY goes against traditional Indian culture, and her family is very traditional), so I'm debating whether or not to bring up this situation next time we visited their family... we'll see!  

Also, I had another instance with a motorcycle this week. One day we were waiting a really long time for a bus, and this bus stop had no bench or anything so I decided to just sit down on a close by motorcycle that someone had parked. Well, I sat there for a good 15-20 minutes before a man and his wife came out of a near by building, and by the way they awkwardly looked at me sitting on the bike it was clear he must have been the owner of it. So I quickly got up and apologized to the guy for sitting on his bike, and as I started to walk away the man smiled at me and said, "Would you like me to drop you somewhere?" Wow. Pretty different from a typical American who most likely would have said something along the lines of "WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU'RE DOING SITTING ON MY MOTORCYCLE!" Sometimes I forget just how kind and awesome Indians are, but then they go ahead and do awesome things for me and I remember they are amazing amazing people. 

Do you remember KS? I shared a couple of stories about him from last time I served in C. Road, and now I have another about him. As you might recall, K has a lot of faith, but also a lot of doctrinal confusions. Now, because of those confusions, he is going less active... Here is the problem. He believes the bible is true. He believes the Book of Mormon is true. AND he believes Joseph Smith is a prophet. But he doesn't accept the rest of the modern prophets as prophets... including Ezra Taft Benson. Because of this, he is offended that we spend an hour of church studying Ezra Taft Benson. He claims we should be studying the Bible or Book of Mormon, not just some random "good person". So every week he comes to Sacrament meeting (because he knows how important the Sacrament is), but then he leaves right after that... how can we help someone like that?? Yes yes, I know the answer to his confusion SEEMS obvious, but to him it's not obvious... maybe time will help? I only hope God enlightens him, because he doesn't want to hear what we have to say about it. :-( 

One last experience: So we had a couple good appointments set up for the evening, but as a missionary I have become quite accustomed to plans falling through. So as we left our apartment I prayed that all the people we had scheduled to visit would actually be there (a true miracle to ask for!) Everything went smoothly until our last family. When we knocked on the Lawrence family's door, the daughters and mom told us they were the only people home. Their older brother had gone outside with friends, and the dad was who-knows-where. Sigh... so, we said goodbye and were just about to head off because we can't teach without a brother being there, but to our delight the older brother George came walking down the street! Hooray! And then 2 minutes after we sat down, the dad also walked in! Amazing! God brought us 2 brothers, and one complete family to teach. I was very happy to see them all there. 

Monday, February 16, 2015

Should I?

We are currently teaching a 14 year old girl named Anju. No one in her family are members, but the house right next to her is filled with members, so they are helping to support her. It's been interesting teaching someone so young, because she will easily accept to things, but then struggle to keep the commitments... She is a really kind girl though, and I hope with her neighbors support she will progress. 

Also, a fun side note about Anju, one evening her family gave us some bananas to snack on as we were about to go, and when we were finished I was looking for a place to throw away my banana peel but couldn't find any place to stick it. Well, Anju quickly said she would throw it away for me, and she went and chucked it in a little plastic bucket outside their home. When the banana peel hit the bucket a rat went scurrying away from it, but Anju came back as though nothing had happened. I asked her, "Was that a rat...?" She replied "Ya Elder, there are lots of rats." Haha I would have freaked out if that had happened to me, but I was impressed that a cute little 14 year old girl is completely unfazed by rats.

Also, a note about people giving us stuff, I've come to see more and more on my mission one simple truth: poor people will give us food, but rich people rarely will. I used to think that was just because poor people are more humble and Christ-like, but now I think I have a new theory on the matter. The problem with rich people isn't that they are always prideful (although they often are), but the fact that they feel embarrassed if all they give us is, for example, a banana. They feel that if they are to give something to the elders, it better be something big and good, and that intimidates them and discourages them from giving anything at all. In contrast, poor people consistently show their love in small and simple ways. A banana one time you visit, some crackers the next time, and maybe a glass of milk the time after that. I think the poor people have mastered showing love much better than rich people have. 

As I train Elder Peter, and when I have been a leader in the mission, I will consistently get asked "Can I ______?" kind of questions. Generally, my response is the same. Of course you can! God gave us agency. You can do whatever you want. You don't even HAVE to be on a mission if you don't want to; you can go home any time you want. The question you ought to ask is "SHOULD I ______?" And the answer to that is usually no. No you shouldn't. But thanks for asking. :-)

One day we cycled 12 miles out to a media referrals house, and 12 miles back. 24 miles of cycling in one day, and with no idea how to get where we were going so we had to ask for directions every half mile or so. Oh wow, I hadn't had so much fun in a long time! I love doing crazy things like that. Cycling miles and miles into the middle of no where, just to give someone a Restoration pamphlet. Well, I shouldn't say JUST a Restoration pamphlet, because inside that little book contains one of the most important messages the world could ever hear. Well worth the effort!

The elders in my apartment are impressed by how well I know Preach My Gospel and the Missionary Handbook (I can pretty much quote any part of the handbook...) I guess it shows I've been on a mission for a while! 

As we searched for an inactive's house one evening, we asked a Muslim woman on her way home from work if she could help point us in the right direction. She then spent the next 15-20 minutes helping us to find the address! Just one example of my firm belief that Muslims are among the best people on the planet.
Zone Training

Saturday, February 14, 2015

CTR - choose the right

February 9, 2015

Today (and probably on a few more P-Days) me and my companion are going to Apostate Road to go shopping. Well, that's what elders have nicknamed the place, it's actually called Brigade Road, but there is quite a bit of apostasy there as well... We just want to check out what cool stuff there is to buy! Any souvenirs you guys want from India? I'll try to find some cool Indian stuff to bring all of you. 

My new area is SWEET! The reason for that is because there are sooooo many Muslims in our area! I absolutely love love love Muslims! Definitely the classiest people on the planet. And all that garbage they feed us in the American media that says Muslims are terrorists is about as true as the websites that say I'm supposed to have multiple moms because I'm Mormon... A bunch of rubbish. 

I was thinking last night though, that to an average American my area would actually be super sketchy... I walk down narrow, not so well maintained streets, with oodles of Muslims staring at me from every side, with Muslims flags hanging across all the houses... But as the scriptures say, "Perfect love casteth out all fear"! 

I don't know if I told you this already, but due to the political shenanigans that are happening in India, we are not allowed to do any street contacting or door knocking. Which in some ways takes a HUGE burden off of my shoulders (the commandment to open you mouth and share the Gospel with everyone would get pretty overwhelming at times...) But still at times I have to catch myself from inviting someone to learn about the gospel, because it has become so natural for me to do so. 

This week we went searching for an inactive, and after an hour or so of searching around for a seemingly un-existent address, some lady helped to show us where it was (down a secret alley way...) When we got to the house we met a super old grandma that spoke zero English...Is this the right house?? We were a little confused if she was the person we were looking for until she flashed us a CTR ring she was wearing. Whoa. Totally unexpected to see her wearing that! It's like a secret symbol that shows you are a part of the club...

This week we also had a great success with getting a less active family to come to church! The Lawrence family is super awesome, but never comes to church... Well, we visited them this last week, and instead of telling them "We know you are less active, just come to church already!" we simply acted as if they were a totally active family, and gave them a commitment to bring a different inactive to church that they are friends with. Well, to our great delight, it worked! The Lawrence family came to church this week, AND the friend we asked them to bring! Nothing like a responsibility to get people active again.

Faith of a new missionary

February 2, 2015

As for being out of the office... I couldn't be happier! Really and truly, not being AP anymore has made me more happy then anything else for a quite some time. I ceremonially transferred the phone of power to the new Assistant, Elder Willis, and it was like a huge dark cloud was taken off of me. And due to Elder Cloward being made the district leader, and not myself, I have NO more follow up calls for the rest of my mission! Yaaaaaay! Freedom! People will still sometimes ask me for permission for things, but then I tell them "I'm just a trainer, not an Assistant, go call Elder Willis." A very nice change indeed.

Now I am training a brand new Elder from Delhi. His name is Elder Peter. He is very westernized, so he fits in pretty well with our apartment (which has me and two other american elders in it, Elder Cloward and Elder Thompson). Being a trainer is definitely the most rewarding position in the mission. Without a doubt. 

My new companion - Elder Peter

It was nice meeting with all of the new missionaries because they have such a bright hope and faith for their mission. They expect so many good things to happen. I don't think they realize how difficult it will be, but I'm grateful to see their enthusiasm because it re-pumps me up. 

Also, I am back in Convent Road, but this time on the North side, not the south side. So it been kinda fun, and difficult, to find different people to teach and visit than I did last year. It's also cool seeing how the branch has changed in a year. Some people have gone off to America, other people were newly baptized, some Less Actives are now active, but also some actives have become less active... It's also cool seeing how physically much people have grown in one year! The primary kids have gotten so much bigger! 

Really really sad news for the week though... Sister X just completed her mission. She has become one of my good friends on the mission, and I love her family a lot as well (they live in the south side of Convent Road branch, so I used to visit them quite a bit). Well, 2 days after she got back from her mission, her dad died.... I tried to imagine how hard that must be, but I can't really understand it. Unbelievable... I was also shocked by how some people talked to her at the funeral. I don't claim to know how to be sensitive people that just experienced a death, but I was appalled by what some people told her. As Sister X was telling me about how her dad died she started crying, and then while she is mid-tears one the branch members practically starts to scold her! "Why are you feeling so sad? Come on, you just back from your mission! You know the plan of salvation! You know you're gonna be with him again some day, so you shouldn't be so sad about it." I understand that knowing the plan of salvation must help, but that doesn't mean the rest of your mortal life is going to be easy without a father! I feel really bad for their family. I think we are going to visit them tonight. 

I don't think I'm getting trunky. Having a trainee really helps, because it forces me to show him exactly the way missionary work is supposed to be done. In fact, I'd say I am being more obedient than I have for months! I hope to do a lot of good here in Convent Road before I fly off to America. 

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Back to Convent Road!

So, on Thursday I am leaving Whitefield Road branch to go back to Convent Road Branch with a new trainee. I am so so excited to go back to Convent Road! There are two companionships for that branch, and last time I served in the south side. This time around I will be serving in the north side. There is another Elder named Elder Thompson that just finished his training in Convent Road south, and now is going to lead the area as a he gets a new companion in a couple of days, so I thought it would be pretty rude to try and force him to go work in the north side so that I could take the south side. So pretty much, this means I am working with people I've never really met before, even though I technically served in their branch last year. I kind of like it that way though, because it makes life more exciting! Also, if I served in the south I would probably end of visiting the Raman family every other day, and then they would get bored of me... haha. 

To help prepare me for the north side, I took Elder Gottipatti on exchange there. He served in the north side last year, so he showed me some homes that I could visit. I met a lot of great people, and it will really help me to get the area off to a good start.
Elder Gottipatti with some cute chicks!

It was so frustrating whitewashing with Elder Bandi, because here I had this brand new missionary that was full of excitement and anticipation for the work, and I had absolutely no where to take him... At least now me and my trainee have somewhere to go on day one. 

Convent Road has really been struggling the last few months... apparently a few bad elders went there, and now the branch hates missionaries. I love this branch though, so i'm pumped to kick this area back up to its former glory days. 

My Favorite Indian Food - Dosa!  

Monday, January 19, 2015

Changes Comiing

I have lots of exciting news for this week! Where should I start… how about this, I’m getting transferred! Woohoo! I’m so pumped to not be an Assistant anymore! This is the first time on my mission I requested a transfer from President Berrett; I think my soul has died a little bit since I got here. But now I’m happier and feeling the Spirit more than I have for months! I’m so excited to get transferred!!

I actually gave myself the transfer call… I got two phones, and gave myself the transfer call. Elder Anderson really did a good job of pumping me up to receive my new area… haha.

I did that just for kick and giggles with my fellow elders, but the real fun is that I actually got to choose my transfer. We were discussing with President about who the trainers should be, I told him “Well, I sure wouldn’t say no to becoming one of the trainers!” And he replied “You know what, I was already considering making you one of the trainers, so let’s make you one. Which area would you like to whitewash with your new missionary companion?” I quickly responded, “Well, I’ve actually thought about that. I know Convent Road has been struggling, and I served there briefly last year, and I really love that branch, so I would love to go and serve there again.” To my delight he said that he thought that sounded like a good idea, so this is officially my last full week as an AP! Back to my favorite area with my favorite position in the mission! ALSO, I get to be a District Leader, which is my other favorite position. I can’t wait!

Here’s another piece of exciting information. As of now, my release date has been pre-poned to April 22nd. Whoa. It’s kinda crazy how that’s not even that far away…

Actually, it is my decision to come home in April instead of June. As I learned that I will be training starting next transfer, that means I will finish the training on the April 22nd transfer. So, if I stayed until June 3rd that means I would transferred to a new area, and only be there for 6 weeks. That would be the slowest 6 weeks of my mission. I would have no motivation to learn the area, so I would just be being dragged around for that transfer… that’s not a good note to end a mission on. But if I go in April, I can push hard with my trainee through the end of his 12 week training and then go home on a high note. Also, I realize that I have no money when I come home. I don’t want to lose 10 pounds at college again from starvation due to poverty, so I want to earn some money before I go back to school. Giving myself that extra 6 weeks will make finding a job much easier (because who wants to hire someone that can only work for 2 ½ months?), and give me more time to work. So after a lot of pondering and praying, and I feel like going in April is what I need to do.

Still, even with those reasons, I felt kind of guilty going to President Berrett and asking him to go home earlier than expected. I felt very relieved when he told me “Oh Elder Anderson, don’t feel guilty about that at all! That is totally fine. Since your start date is right in the middle on the two transfers, it’s perfectly acceptable to go on either day.” Whew! That made me feel a lot better about my decision. However, my missionary batch mates are mad at me because I made this choice without consulting with them first… haha I didn’t know I needed to ask them before choosing when to go home!

Here is one spiritually inspiring story from the week. We visited a member named Ineyavan this week. He is about 23 years old, and a really nice guy. However, he is the only member in his family. He has been a member for a little less than 2 years, and he is about to put in his mission papers. Wow. I can only imagine the amount of faith that takes. Fortunately, his family is still supportive of his choice, even if they have no interest in listening to the missionaries themselves. However, I would not be surprised if that changes while he is on his mission; I have seen many families have miracles worked in them because their son/daughter is serving a mission. Hopefully you guys have gotten some blessings from my service as well. 

Friday, January 16, 2015

Kiran, Ramu, and Trishual

Hey remember last week when I told you some of our elders got put in jail for a day because of crazies from another faith? Well, apparently that situation caused more of a mess than I initially thought; that whole city is now evacuated of missionaries. I've come to learn there is a revival sort of deal going on through the country right now. They want to reconvert everyone back to that faith ... haha pretty funny stuff. But unfortunately, that means we all have to be extremely careful while proselyting. No door knocking or street contacting for now. Fun stuff! 

I have a few good experiences to share from the week.

So, this week Elder Karri and Dhondapani finished their missions. These two are Indian jokesters! They are always pulling some sort of a joke. And for months they have been bragging about how they are going home. They have been so very excited! And all the time they were so excited, except during their final missionary testimony during their farewell devotional. I've never seen those two so serious. Elder Karri even cried! It's interesting to see elders that seemingly don't take anything seriously actually become serious for something. I guess finishing your best 2 years is a pretty serious ordeal. They are great guys. 

I thought this one was kind of humorous... so, we were teaching a less active family, and after chit chatting with them for a minute we asked to have an opening prayer. Well, while we were half way through the prayer the non-member brother rushed out of his bedroom and went out the front door! We didn't even know he was home! We figure he must have been waiting right by his door, just waiting for us to close our eyes to have the prayer, knowing that was his time to sneak out the door... haha what a crafty fellow! It will be a little awkward for him on judgment day though when God shows him a replay of his life... I hope that goes well! 

Our branch council has decided that the teachers in our branch don't teach well enough (which is true, sometimes it's pretty boring...), so they decided during Sunday school hour we will have a "Teach the teachers how to teach class" over a period of 4 weeks. Well, guess who was assigned to teach the class? None other than myself! I was pretty excited to do it, and spent time during my personal study all all through the week to prepare for the first class. Well,Sunday rolled around, they announced the class during Sacrament meeting, and then when 2nd hour came... no one showed up! :P So I just went to Gospel Principle's class, as usual. At least I learned how to be a better teacher by preparing for this class! :-) Maybe next week people will come to it. 

We have a young man named Kiran in our branch. He is a 16 year old all-star. The nicest guy you ever did meet, and a spiritual giant! None of his family comes to church, but he never misses. And he always arrives at church at LEAST a half hour early so that he can prepare the Sacrament. Well, this week he showed up a little late, so it threw us off. But come to find out he was only late for church because he had picked up and brought not one, but TWO of his friends to church! Wow. If only we had more Kirans in the world! 

Ramu, one of my best friends from Kakinada, calls me about 3-5 times per week. He is an awesome awesome guy, but speaks no English... and my Telugu isn't all that great either, so our conversations last for about 2 minutes (which is really pretty impressive when you think about the language barrier we have!) and then he will ask "Mi companion?" (mi = your in Telugu). Then Elder Penugula (who isn't my companion but who speaks Telugu (my companion speaks Tamil)) will talk to him for a half hour! I always praise him for using his Telugu speaking skills for good. 

I attached a photo of my good friend Trishual. He is a wonderful man seeking for truth, and with an aim to do great good in the world by helping poor people. We have been teaching him for a while, but yesterday he left for his home back in Calcutta. Hopefully he will come in contact with the church again some day, and be ready to accept it in it's fullness.

This week we have been working on Transfers. One thing I've come to realize, something that is contrary to popular belief, is the fact that people that plan transfers are NOT out to get you! In fact, as we plan we try to move each person to the best possible spot for them. I think that's a lot like how God directs our life. Maybe sometimes we feel like "God is out to get me!" by where He takes us in our lives, but I'm sure He is really just putting us in the best possible place, even if we don't realize it.
Chennai Zone Conference

Monday, January 5, 2015

Happy New Year

New Year is about a big deal here as it is in the USA, but for missionaries... it's just the same ole same ole. We did have lots of music blasting outside as we went to sleep though, so that was pretty exciting! 

So, I still continue to get your guys' letters! It's fun, because they come at totally random times... sometimes there is a day with no letters, and then the next day there are 3! And they come in a random order too.. like one day I got 2 letters. One was day #16, and the other was day #23. haha weird. Thanks for letting the Christmas season for me roll on! 

My great accomplishment for the week was discovering a bunch of Excel data sheets that the assistants have maintained for the least 4 years are not needed. Apparently the church spits out most of the information that we were tracking, so now we don't have to do it anymore! I gave myself a pat on the back for being lazy enough to try and figure out how I don't have to track a bajillion different numbers... ^_^ 

Did I tell you Elder Bandi is serving in Bangalore now? It's fun, because every time he sees me he gets the biggest smile on his face. He will also quote me a lot on things that I taught him, so that makes me feel really good! 

Two of our missionaries were arrested in Coimbatore yesterday. They contacted an intense person from another faith, (they didn't know he was crazy), but then he accepted their invitation to come give a prayer at his home. He called the cops on them for disturbing his religion... some people are such babies. They got out of jail the next day, and now they are both being transferred to different cities, so all is well in Zion. 

Life is rolling on very fast!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Christmas Prayers

December 29, 2014

Christmas was fairly exciting this year! Well, mostly for the fact that we had sooooo many walk-ins on Christmas day! All evening random people would flood into the church to give their annual prayer to God... haha. It helps that our building is INSANELY nice. kicks the panties off the buildings we have back in Oly. I found very interesting to meet such a variety of people. They all had varied reasons for coming to a church on Christmas day. Some people thought it was an extra holy day so their regular prayers would be boosted by praying on December 25th, other people thought they should at least go to church at least ONE time in the year, and other people looked like they were dressed up to have a bumpin' Christmas party. 

Alas, many people were disappointed when they learned there was no activity going on at our church, no sermon going on, and not even a single candle to light! Some people even had the boldness to ask us "are there any other churches around here...?" fairly humorous, if I do say so myself. We took people on a tour of the church, and we even had two or 3 people come to church this Sunday after visiting on Christmas! Awesome! There was even a couple couples that came in during the night. It was interesting to see people going to church for their Christmas date. I also liked seeing people that came in, said a prayer that was literally 10 seconds or less, and then left. A very entertaining evening! 

We also had a lunch and dinner appointment on Christmas, so I was well fed. :-) 

Today Elder Bandi got that letter you sent him! He was cheering for joy as he received it. Thank  you for supporting my little baby!

Dad, what you pointed out during our Christmas call is very true: we seem to get magical blessings when we go out to proselyte. God understands we have a very limited time to be out and about, and he truly helps us to make the most of it. Outside of AP life I would say about 50%-70% of my appointments/plans fall through, but nowadays it seems as if 80%-90% of our plans actually happen! Crazy! Even last night we went to Satish's home (he is the only member in his family). Alas, his sister answered the door and told us he had gone out for playing cricket with his friends and wouldn't be back for another 1-3 hours... sigh... well, right as we were walking away Satish we saw walking down the street coming back from playing cricket! huzzaw! We were then able to teach him, and the rest of his non-member family about prayer. Wonderful.

A lot of people didn't show up for church yesterday that were assigned to give talks, so our branch president signaled for a priest to come up, whispered in his ear, and then the priest came down and asked me if I would be willing to give a talk. I said sure! So 5 minutes later I went up and gave a talk! I think it went pretty well. I gave a fairly aggressive talk on how Satan gets to us through our poor media choices. It's fun being a missionary at church!

We finished zone conference this week! Now we have MLC tomorrow. And then next week we have some transfers... life rolls on!

Skype Call

December 23, 2014

I spoke with my family today via Skype.  Life is good.

Travel Agent

December 15, 2014

The fun for this week is I got to become a travel agent! We are having about ¼ of the missionaries in our mission transferring, and I was given the responsibility of making sure everyone gets to the right spot at the right time, and all for a reasonable price. I've done small travel bookings for people, and arranging for one or two people isn't that hard, and even getting 5 or 10 people isn't too bad, but having 26 people has turned out to be a much greater challenge than I first anticipated! Well, actually even that wasn't going to be too bad, but then one companionship denied their transfer call… they just flat out said no, we aren't going to transfer. I don’t think they realized how many problems that created on so many different levels. Rearranging transfers, rebooking travel arrangements, tons of tithing money down the drain... luckily President Berrett called them, and not I, because he was much nicer to them about it all then I probably would have been... :P But, I think everything is going to work out, so I guess all is well in Zion. 

I'd say most of my week has been devoted to transfer travel arrangements. Oh the things you learn on your mission! 

This Saturday we had a branch Christmas activity. It was very interesting! Like many activities I've been to on my mission there were a lot of good ideas and a lot of good people trying to contribute to the activity, but the problem is... all of us need to work on our planning, preparation, and communication skills. Haha the activity was so dis-organized. On my mission my testimony of the importance of meeting has gone up 10,000%! I now see what happens when proper meeting don't happen. 

India Christmas Decorations For Sale

Here's something fun! So, as a missionary you always want fellowshippers for your investigators, but sometimes it can be difficult, because members struggle to go talk to people that they don't know. However, recently we got a young single investigator named Tabitha. Well, because Tabitha was blessed with the gift of good looks, she has now been blessed with many fellow shippers! Haha it takes zero convincing to get one of the young men to go sit by her... awesome. ;-)  

Life is pretty crazy right now, but I'm having a lot of fun, and learning a lot. Time is flying by!