Monday, February 24, 2014

Transfers and 6 MONTH MARK!

I have come to the realization that as of tomorrow I will have been on my mission for 6 months. 1/3 of my time here in Houston is gone. It's hard to comprehend. Didn't I just get here a week ago? Somehow tomorrow marks the beginning of my 5th transfer out here and I get a new companion and I'm taking over Magnolia 2 area, all in one day. And I feel like I still have so much I'm learning here in this area and on the mission in general. I'm excited for change and growth and the chance to reflect on the past transfer and look to the future and improve.
Some highlights from the week:

One of the very Texan older woman in the ward called us up asking if we had dinner that night because she wanted us to help her eat a pizza. We got to go eat and talk with her. She's got a heavy Texan accent and reminds me a little of the grandma in Hoodwinked. Not that she's doing extreme sports or anything, but just her energy and humor.

We had a Relief Society Birthday party event. Unfortunately none of our investigators made it, but Sister Hassell and I had a line in the skit talking about all the past RS General Presidents. I was Louise Yates Robison. She was a wonderful woman and my line was her motto, "Welcome the task that takes you beyond yourself." It's a good motto to have, and something I want to do better at, to be bolder to work harder, to search longer.

We had another wonderful visit with our neighbors. They're the young couple that lives in our complex with an adorable little boy. The father is studying to be a minister and we've had amazing conversations just understanding each other's point of view more and learning from the scriptures. I'd been thinking a lot about how I could teach better when we talk to them and what the Lord wanted me to do and the answer I got was, "use the Book of Mormon" "whenever you answer a question, use the Book of Mormon as much as you can." So I did!
Our last visit he had asked us what question we had for him or what differences we had that made our church unique or that maybe they believed that didn't make sense to us. So we talked about things and asked questions and they asked us questions and it was an amazing discussion. We talked about the trinity, prophets, authority, faith, works, salvation... all these typically controversial topics. And every time we talk to them it's always full of love and a mutual search for understanding. They are one of the best examples of Christ like love and devotion in their everyday lives I've ever met. Christ is an intimate part of everything they do and talking with them makes me want to be better.

So these conversations are wonderful. It's intimidating sometimes because he's studying to be a minister and knows the Bible reeaaally well and he asks really good questions. But at the same time, it has lead me to a deeper study and understanding of a lot of those topics as I've listened to his explanation and understanding, and as my companion and I teach from and expound the scriptures and rely on the Spirit to help bring things to our remembrance. Using the Book of Mormon in our last meeting with them I think was vital. The Book of Mormon teaches doctrine and explains principles in a powerful way, and as you learn from and gain a testimony of that book, everything else falls into place. So it's been wonderful to develop such a friendship and understanding with these incredible people. I've learned a lot about faith and works that I'll have to just spend and entire email on later.

We helped paint a room a couple days ago. It was super fun because we painted the entire room the same color--ceiling included (it's slightly domed) and it was this creamy color, but then we added wall crystals which are probably one of the coolest inventions known to man. You add a couple packs of them to pain and then when its dry its a really subtle sparkle that you only see when the light hits it right. Its so pretty!

We had dinner with a nonmember family who have been taking their kids to mutual activities for the past several years. The kids are more willing to move forward than the parents, and they've all listened to missionaries before, but we hope to be able to facilitate greater understanding there as well.

We had one of our investigators come to church this week! Yay! She's been going through so many things and so seeing her at church was really incredible. We went to primary for the 2nd hour and got her 3 year old daughter adjusted and it took a little while, but she loved Sunbeams and hopefully future church attendance will be great for both her and her mom.

Things are going great here. I'm learning lots, looking to improve and grow in so many ways, and learning more and more how to rely on the Lord and do His will. I'd encourage all of you to look for ways to increase understanding between you and someone else. Whether it be about gospel subjects or other topics, feeling understood is so important in developing trust and friendship and working together. Love you lots! Thanks for all the great things you're doing.


Sister Andreason

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Light, Baptisms, Transfers

So some big events happened this week. First of all, our investigator, Al, got baptized!!!! :D Huzzah! I've been to a couple baptisms in this area of investigators before, but this one was particularly special. 

My first companion and I found Al tracting way back in October. We kept stopping by and talking to him briefly for like a month, and then actually got to have a lesson with after a while of just stopping by and visiting. We began teaching him, helped him keep progressing, and then he got baptized Saturday and confirmed Sunday. There were a lot of little miracles leading up to his baptism too. Our building has a baptismal font, but no water heater. We'd been expecting pretty frigid water for the baptism, but just this past week, because of some other circumstances that worked out just right, they were able to install something that heated the water which was such a tender mercy from the Lord. It wasn't necessary, but it helped focus more on the spirit of the occasion. We had 19 people at the baptism, basically everyone who had a part in the program, and 6 of the 19 were missionaries. My trainer, Sister Allred got to come down for it. Although it was small Al was still so grateful for those who came and he bore his testimony at the end of the service. It was such a wonderful day.

Right this wonderful weekend where Al was able to get baptized, I got a call Sundaynight telling me I'm getting transfered! I can't say I wasn't expecting it. You get to a point in an area where you know in order to keep growing and progressing the Lord is going to make a change. I feel like the Lord needs me elsewhere and my companion, Sister Sievert, is going to keep growing best when she flies on her own. I love Spring Branch, and there are so many good things going on here. We've found a couple really good new investigators recently, we're working with some good progressing investigators, we've got a couple baptisms scheduled for the near future, but I'm excited to take the strength and momentum I have right now and bring it to my new area. I'll find out where that is and who my new companion is at transfer meeting tomorrow.

In addition to transfering to a new area tomorrow, we also moved apartments within our complex on Friday. Our new apartment is still really nice, but about $80 cheaper a month. So we spent some time last week packing, cleaning, and then the Elders came and moved all the hard stuff in less than an hour. As far as moving goes (and lets remember I grew up in an Air Force home--I've moved like 10 times in my life) it was pretty smooth. Although it definitely made me appreciate all the work that goes into moving, and we're just missionaries surviving with the bare essentials.

We've had a lot of other good things happening in our area lately. We found some great new investigators, taught some other good lessons to people we've been working with, and basically helped bring others closer to Christ which is the whole focus and purpose of being a missionary. As we remember that and as we focus on things that help us do that, life is great. I am never so happy as I am when I get to teach someone and help them make changes in their life for the better.
We also had a spectacular zone meeting on Friday. We talked about the principle of Light. We are beings of light, our bodies crave light. If you look at your pupil in a dark room, it dialates to allow more light in, and when there is light, it contracts to allow focus because of the available light. One of our zone leaders taught this principle in such a memberable way. He had vivid recurring nightmares as a child; in one of the nightmares he was chased by monsters and in the other he was being chased by pure darkness. I can't tell the story the way he told it, but I was scared at just the recounting of these nightmares. However, the last night of the dream where he was chased by darkness, he got to the end of the previously endless hallway and found a room with a light that the darkness couldn't overcome. He shared a scripture: 

 O how great the goodness of our God, who prepareth a way for our escape from the grasp of this awful monster; yea, that monster, death and hell, which I call the death of the body, and also the death of the spirit. 2 Nephi9:10

It is so comforting to know that God created light: 

 And God said Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. He didn't create darkness, but separated the light from it. God created the light. Genesis 1:3-4

I found the study and combination of the following scriptures enlightening.

D&C 93:36-37 The glory of God is intelligence, or, in other words, light and truth. Light and truth forsake that evil one.

Matt 6:22 The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!

D&C 4:5 And faith, hope, charity, and love, with an eye single to the glory of God, qualify him for the work.

Acts 26:18 To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.

Resist the darkness. Satan is the bringer of darkness and you cannot be who God wants you to be if you allow darkness to stay in your life, if you allow Satan to have power over you. Let of go of the darkness and cling to the light. We were challenged, and I would challenge you to look for areas of darkness in your life and flood them with light. What darkness is there that you can change?

I know that Christ is the light of the world, as we draw closer to Him our lives will be filled with a greater measure of His light. I love you all!


Sister Andreason