Tuesday, October 22, 2013

BYU Football Team Meets Miranda in Houston

Hello friends and family!

My mission is blessed enough to be able to enjoy the blessings of attending the temple every transfer (6 weeks) and this was our week to do it. We went with a bunch of other missionaries Friday morning to a very packed session. It was so wonderful to go there and enjoy the peace and clarity that comes from temple worship. We had stake conference this week as well, and one of the speakers was a former temple president. He, along with our stake president emphasized the importance of temple attendance in our efforts to "Come unto Christ" which was the theme of the conference.

My companion and I also got to go do baptisms with one of her recent converts early Saturday morning and guess who else was there? The BYU football team. Or at least 16 or so of their players that wanted to come. I talked with one of the assistant coaches I think? and he said that this was their new thing, and its their 3rd week doing it. So the players passed us on their way upstairs and Coach Mendenhall and his son were in the baptistery. The timing was just right that he was the one to do my baptisms andconfirmations. How cool is that?! What are the chances?

So this week, my companion and I have been working hard, and we've visited a lot of less actives, some part member families, and we've gotten a lot of potential investigators. Most of our potentials this week have come from this little section of two streets that we've visited that's right by our church building. We've talked to so many open people there (half of them are related in some way) and made a lot of new contacts. Hopefully we'll get some return visits this week and be able to teach those people more.

We're currently teaching two young women (20 and 19) who are married to less-active husbands. One of the them is in the process of getting time off work so she can be baptized, and is really our only progressing investigator currently (love her!) She has a great testimony and is trying to do what's right. The other has been meeting with missionaries for a while, and stopped meeting with us for a time because she felt we were pushing her towards baptism. She's hesitant and afraid of making such a big commitment, but she agreed to start meeting with us again; however our latest appointment fell through. My heart just goes out to her. She wants to do good things, and she wants the blessings the gospel offers, but it's hard to be consistent in the little significant things like prayer, scriptures, and church attendance without the full support of her husband. She's got a 6 month old and another on the way. Her name is Kelsey. Keep her in your prayers.

We've also visited some less actives. One family used to be super strong and now won't put forth the effort to come to church. They know it's what they should be doing, and they believe what we teach, they just don't come. They have a testimony, but they are not converted. Fear and apathy keep them from progressing, and it's the saddest thing. It's so hard to know how to help such people when they lack a desire to fix the problem, or to do things they know they ought to be doing. I'm not perfect myself, I've had similar problems as I've grown and progressed, and I've been lucky enough to have a wonderful family to help support and direct me through times when it was hard to be consistent in the little things I knew I should be doing. Maybe that's what would work with this family--additional love and support from the ward until they get to a place where they again have that desire to be better. The only problem is there's not that many other families in the ward that can help in that endeavor.
There's a lot of people who need a friend to reach out, and our resource of people to help is so small. The active members of the ward are few, and they have many of their own struggles. The Relief Society President's family is moving to Saudi Arabia for 3 years, and they seem to be everyone's friend. I feel like I'm trying to fix a car and the only tool I have is a pair of pliers.

So we're taking it a day at a time. My companion is very diligent in filling our time productively. I'm learning from her, and she inspires me to work harder. We're setting goals and talking to families. We're helping the families in the ward set goals for what they can do to increase and improve their missionary efforts. We're trying to bring those we come in contact with closer to Christ, and as the members become stronger they will be able to lift others as well. Our stake conference was inspiring and instructive. I hope that will help in our continued efforts as well. As always, thanks for your prayers. 

I would love letters, my current address is:
13330 west road #316
Houston TX 77041

Lots of Love,

Sister Andreason

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

I've arrived in Houston!

Hello friends and family!!

Thanks for all your love and support, prayers, thoughts, and letter you've sent my way. I appreciate all of them (especially the letters and prayers :) Anyways, it's been over a week sine I had P-day, so I'm finally able to write, and I have a lot to say, hopefully I get through most of it.

First off. Houston is great. Love it here. Very humid, but great people similar to Ohio plus a healthy dose of southern. My trainer is great; her name is Sister Allred and she's been out for 7 months, she's 19, dedicated to the work, and loves the people. My area is Spring Branch. (the major roads are the 290, the 529, and the 6. idk if that helps you find it on a map) Our area is large in comparison to others, and we have a car which is nice. The ward has 300 people in it, but only about 100 of those are active. So, needless to say we have plenty of work to do, most of which is trying to just contact these people. We've done a lot of driving around cleaning up the ward list because a lot of people have moved, some have even been gone for several years, and nobody has done anything with the records--so we're trying to get things organized. It's also difficult because the Ward Mission Leader is gone for the next couple weeks, the Relief Society Presidency just got reorganized (the former president's family is moving to Saudi Arabia), and stake conference is next week so we don't have normal meetings. I'm just trying to get on my feet and figure out how to work best here. A lot of things about this area remind me of our time in the Dayton Branch, some of the people we've contacted, and some of the areas we visit. There's a lot of good strong members here too though, and they do an awful lot in helping the ward run. I also got to speak in sacrament on missionary work, which was great to be able to introduce myself to the ward.

Second. The people here in Houston are mostly fairly strong Christians. My purpose as a missionary is to "invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end." Often we'll talk to people.. "Hi, we're missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and we go around teaching people about Jesus Christ and the church he set up." Usually their response is, "Oh, I'm already Christian and very involved in my church" or "I don't speak much English" or "Sorry, I'm Buddhist" or occasionally they'll listen. People here are very open to talking about religion, so that's actually really nice and allows for good conversations, but every time somebody tells me, "Oh, I'm already Christian" I just want to say, "No! You don't understand! We are here representing Jesus Christ, and we have been called by a prophet of God to share what we know, we know that our message is true. Bring what truth you have and let us add to it. What we have to offer--the message we have to share about the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ will bring you closer to Him, and will bring you more happiness in life no matter who you are or your situation in life." 

Maybe I should say that. But sometimes that's not what's going to be best in trying to teach people. I'm working on beginning to testify and teach truth immediately. Bearing testimony allows the Spirit to touch their hearts and testify of truth and increases their desire to learn more. I feel fairly confident in many areas of my teaching, but I have so much to learn still, and I'm just starting to understand many areas as well. I'm trying to remember that my strength, my talents come from Christ. I rely on Him in everything I do. Sometimes I'll teach something well and part of my brain wants to pat myself on the back, and the other half of my brain says something like, "hold on a sec! the credit doesn't go to you! remember whose service you're in, and who is helping you." It's a constant battle against pride, and trying to remain humble so I can have the guidance of the Spirit.

Mom says she wants to know about investigators, and dinners with members. Hmm. Well, we have a lot of potential investigators we're trying to contact again and set up appointments with. There's a lot of inactives we're visiting... or trying to visit, and then there's Sarah. Sarah has been taught all the lessons and she is eager to be baptized. She's 20 and she and her (becoming active) member husband are setting a baptism date this week. She still works on Sundays, so we're trying to figure out dates so she can be in church on the Sunday after her baptism and get confirmed. She's great though. She knows what we teach is true, and she wants to do what's right. I hope we're not just baptizing her into inactivity though. The members are so important in fellowshipping new members.

The members houses I've had dinner at are great! Last night we went over to a Korean family's house and had native homemade Korean food. It was great! There's a lot of Hispanics here, so I'm sure I'll get a lot of that food too. It's a great way to meet the members, they're all very nice. We're trying to share messages with them from hasteningthework.lds.org to help inspire them to reach out more. The ward doesn't have a ward mission plan currently, and I'm trying to figure out how we can get one made, and then help families develop family mission plans as well.

I was reading my patriarchal blessing recently, and there are so many blessings promised me as I'm doing the Lords work, so many parts that apply so specifically to my work in the mission field, it was comforting and inspiring. I was blessed with the "talents and abilities that are needful and necessary to be able to accomplish the Lord's purposes," along with other beautiful promises. I am so excited to be out here serving and accomplishing the Lord's purposes. He is hastening His Work and I'm right here in the middle of it. Love you lots!! Let me know if there's anything else you want to know in future letters. I love getting mail!

My address for paper letters is:
Sister Miranda Andreason
13330 west road #316
Houston TX 77041


Sister Andreason

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

First Letter Home

Hello family and friends!!

Where to begin?! I've learned so much already, and I can't believe it's only been a week. It feels like I've been here at least a month, but at the same time the days pass quickly. When Aunt Margie drove me down to the MTC, it finally hit me that this is it. We were a little early and so we drove by and then walked around the temple for a few minutes. I don't freak out very easily, but if my heart had gone any faster I think I would have exploded. So after breathing for a bit we dropped me off! The MTC is very efficient and I moved through, met a friendly host sister to show me where to go, got everything I needed, and then took a bus down to West Campus and Wyview/ Raintree housing. They're sending most of the English speakers there cause we're only there a couple weeks, but there's a lot of other missions here as well. I saw Alex Valencia, and a friend from Aspen Grove going to the Philippines! We eventually made our way to the classroom and I met my companion, my district, and my teachers who have all been tremendously amazing.

My companion reminds me of Sister Lauren Scott in more than one way. She is strong, motivated, spiritually in tune, a great influence on me, and has some other similarities in quirks and appearance. I love her. I could not have asked for anyone better. We work well together, and we have grown in unity and our ability to teach more effectively. We have helped each other grow, but I feel more on the receiving end. She's the heart of our whole district.

Speaking of our district, it's pretty much the greatest. We have 4 elders and 4 sisters. All the sisters are going to Houston, as well as 4 other sisters who are in our zone. The elders are going to Farmington NM and they're eventually going to be learning some Spanish and Navajo but they're only at the MTC for 2 weeks with us--crazy huh? We have grown together as a district as well and we learn a lot from each other and from our teachers.. who are some of the most incredible people I've met. Our teachers spend a lot of time preparing to teach us, and it shows in their lessons. We also get to teach them in a role play as progressing investigators. That's my favorite part of our experience here. My companion and I are teaching Brother Clegg--who's playing his friend Justin from his mission. We have had powerful experiences teaching him, and I have felt the direction of the Spirit in preparing to teach, and teaching him. I don't have time to write everything, and I'm desperately trying to organize my thoughts here as I try to convey the amazing Spirit that is here, the amount I've learned, how I'm growing, and everything else.

First, let me tell you about Sunday. I don't think experienced another Sunday quite as powerful, and spiritually enriching. I have the opportunity to be in the MTC for a fast sunday, and general conference. The only way this coming sunday could be better than this sunday was is if it were general conference... and it is! Anyway, on fast sundays we have mission conference, which means we get to hear from our MTC President, and a few other speakers in the presidency; there were talks on the Atonement, accelerating our learning, our authority and power as missionaries, patriarchal blessings, and the role of the Book of Mormon. I wish I could tell you everything, and I might be able to write more in a letter, but right now I want to focus on the talk we were given about how to accelerate our learning. I'm pretty sure this was the talk given by President Nally, and he told us that if we are consistent in this one thing that everything we do will be blessed. He said that we need a daily personal devotional and accounting to our Father in Heaven every night from 10:15 to 10:30 (for the missionary schedule) and use it as a time for accounting, gratitude, listening, and fervent prayer. Make sure everything is right between you and God at the end of that prayer, and you will finish your mission with no regrets. He said that you would never miss such an appointment with God. You would never be late for such an appointment. He promised that as we would do this, our hearts will change, and as we sought the gifts of the spirit, they would come more easily over time as we nurture our relationship with God. My prayers after this talk have been more fervent, and I have set daily goals for myself that I account to the Lord on. It is already blessing my life. I feel more in tune with the Spirit, and I am able to accomplish more.

The other experience I want to share is our third lesson with Justin. We had already talked to him about baptism in our second lesson, and he wanted to work toward that goal--we didn't commit him to a date yet, but he's enthusiastic about learning more. We taught him to pray, and he has felt God's love for him through prayer. He's been reading the Book of Mormon, although he didn't really know what it was yet. So logically I thought in our next lesson we should teach him about the restoration and the Book of Mormon. However, Sister Maughan was being more attentive to the Spirit and had a strong impression that we really needed to talk to him about families and focus on that. She kinda suggested that earlier, but I was too set in my mindset to really follow that suggestion, until she told me boldly 2 min before we were teaching him that we really needed to teach on families. Thank goodness I was humble enough to yield to her prompting at that point, and it was so inspired. It was exactly what he needed to hear. His sister had given him additional scriptures to read, and he read 1 Nephi 8, so we talked about Lehi's dream, and then families, and come to find out, his mom died a few years back, and he never knew his dad. He just saw the example of his sister and brother-in-law, and how happy they were and he wanted to learn more. I started crying. I was able to testify of the power of the Atonement, and the reality of eternal families, and how the gospel will bless families now and hereafter. I felt chastised by the Lord a little too, that I wasn't paying enough attention to recognize that prompting that my companion had. I made a promise that I was never going to be too focused on what I wanted to do that I wouldn't hear what the Lord needed to tell me. 

I have had so many wonderful devotionals here. I have learned from them, I have learned from my teachers. Most of their lessons are on the fundamentals, and how we should approach things that way. There's not too much of  a buzz about General Conference this weekend, but I'm sure everyone is excited, we've just got a lot of other spiritual things we're focused on too.

Family: I love you, I'm so glad you guys are continuing down the right path. I'm glad you're preparing questions for conference, and I know you'll be blessed when you do. I sent you 2 written letters already, hope you got them! I have some pictures I'll try to send later

Brothers: Way to go Truman, thanks for writing!! I still haven't heard anything from the rest of y'all. USE DEARELDER.COM it's like an email, but they print it for me. I love you I want to hear from you!!

Dad: I hope the questions you asked in your personal email were answered here, I tried to address them, especially since you're the only one who's asked specific things so far.

Mom: thanks for posting things to the blog and facebook!! Love you, thanks for the stamps... turns out I had one of the sheets of those in my wallet I just discovered :P but thanks!

Lots of Love!!

Sister Andreason

P. S. If any of you have any other questions about what I'm experiencing here, feel free to ask! I only get to check email once a week, and my time is limited, so I'll try to answer questions in the group email. If you write me a hand letter, or send it through dearelder.com, I'll be able to see it and answer it sooner, at least especially while I'm in the MTC.