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