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!