Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Baptism and Visiting Old Friends

So I hit my 8 month mark yesterday. That's super weird. Apparently I'm almost half way through my mission now and that's really crazy to think about. It's a good time to reflect and so I've been thinking about goals I want to set and things I want to do better in the next months of my mission. I already feel like I've learned so much and I just want to keep learning and growing and working my best out here in the wonderful field of Houston TX!

Zone Conference was this week. We learned a lot about not fearing man more than God and speaking to everyone. We also had a recap of things we learned in the MTC about planning, studying and teaching and how to make it more effective and a more spiritual experience. Planning and studying can be just as incredible of an experience as teaching can sometimes and as we search for answers to the questions and needs of our investigators often we'll find a lot of revelation for ourselves. I also played the piano for all of zone conference (all the hymns we sang and a musical number).  People think I'm really good... i can get by playing most hymns but I'm not nearly as technically accurate and skillful as Josh probably is :) Piano skills sure do come in handy on a mission though.

We have an hour or so once a week where we can do family history. I've been learning how to do it better and I found some names that need their work done!! It was so exciting. There's a lot of work as you learn how to do it more, so family, you should definitely check it out :)

We also had a baptism this week. It's such a blessing to be able to work with people and see the light come into their eyes and see their faith grow. She has such a strong testimony of the Book of Mormon and it strengthens my faith just to be around her.

I also got to visit a friend of my dad's that lives in The Woodlands. It's a small world and it's fun to find friends who live here! Sorry this email is kinda short. I sent a bazillion pictures home that mom should be putting on the blog at some point. Love you lots!!

Miranda with our good friends the McCauleys


Sister Andreason

Monday, May 19, 2014

An Ironman and the Temple

This week we had the privilege of going to the Temple to do baptisms with one of our recent converts. It was such a special experience. It's been a long time since I've been to the Temple to do baptisms and it was so cool to see Frank going for his first time. I really love the Temple and I'm so lucky to live just down the street from it. We've had lessons there and have been able to tour the grounds with others. There is such a special spirit at the temple that makes it so easy to teach and to learn. Truly it is the House of the Lord.

In other news, we have an investigator getting baptized this week! Sandra has been such a joy to teach. She is eager to learn more and takes time to ask questions and find out things for herself. She is such an example of faith and strength to me. I am glad for the chance to meet all these wonderful investigators that I've been able to teach on my mission. It takes courage to move forward and make all the changes in their lives that we ask them to make, but the blessings that come because of the changes are incredible.

Did a couple of other cool things this week. We met a squirrel whisperer who feeds the squirrels at the park and had  a great gospel discussion with him. My companion had met him on exchanges previously and told him we had a giant bag of peanuts that somebody had given us, so we gave him our 5 lbs bag of peanuts and fed the squirrels with him. They'll come grab the peanut out of your hand, it's kinda cool.

This Saturday the Ironman came to Texas and it was in the Woodlands and we went to volunteer at it. It was fun volunteering because we could go everywhere as we were on the environmental team cleaning up trash, but it wasn't as easy to talk to people when we were preoccupied with trash and not in our regular missionary clothes. It was still really cool to see these amazing athletes. The Ironman is a triathalon where they swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 and then run 26.2. Its crazy. But as Sister King and I were walking along picking up trash we watched people run by and saw their families cheering them on. We had a missionary moment and found a tender gospel analogy in all of this as we thought about the journey that we're all on and the support we gain from family and friends as we run our own race through life.

Sunday we met an incredible new member of our ward who worked at the MTC and is interning for Exxon right now. She's rooming with 5 nonmembers and we have dinner with her this week. She's already had great conversations about the gospel with her one roommate who's moved in so far and we're excited to meet her. She said something I found to be pretty profound. She said members are doing missionary work and the missionaries are doing missionary work, but we're missing the hand off between members and missionaries. So that's something Sister King and I are going to work on in our area is helping that hand off between the wonderful things y'all are already doing and what we might be able to add to it.

I'll write more next week. We've got a lot of things already lined up. We're doing an ultimate frisbee night that members are inviting friends to (pumped for that) and zone conference is this week. I'm playing the piano for everything. I'm accompanying all the hymns we sing and 2 of the special musical numbers. I'm not that amazing of a piano player people! I can get by, but I'm no Rachmaninoff, it shouldn't be too bad though... I'm going to go practice now. 

Love you!!

Sister Andreason

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Happy Mother's Day & Keep your line in the Water

Me and Mom

Dear Family and Friends,

In Preach My Gospel there is a great analogy given by Dallin H. Oaks on page 152. It relates us as missionaries to fishers (wonder who's done that before :) and talks about how important it is to keep our line in the water if we're going to catch anything. So Sister King and I have really been trying to keep our line in the water--to talk to everyone, to be out and around people more to give us more opportunities to talk to and invite people to learn more. We've been eating lunch out at the park a lot, we've planned at the park, and we've just tried to put ourselves out there and trust that the Lord will put people in our path. It has brought so many opportunities and blessings. We've been able to talk to so many more people than before and we taught a whole lesson to a group of 6 high school students who came off the bus and walked over to where we were sitting. They were all from really hard backgrounds, but they actually listened and were interested in learning more. The missionaries who were over that area (the family ward, not just the YSAs) happened to walk by after about a half hour and they got talking to them as we headed out. Little things like that do a lot to build my testimony that God is involved in the details of our lives.

Sometimes it's hard to talk to everyone, but I'm trying to get better at it and I found something that really works. Extending a commitment to myself. That's right. The same principles we use on investigators work on us too. As we were getting ready to go talk to people at a park we prayed and I promised God that I would talk to every person that I saw. And we did! And it was great and invigorating and motivating. It makes it easier to keep doing it in the future. 

So, in our efforts to talk to everyone we end up giving out a lot of referrals because we're over 3 stakes area wise, but just the YSAs as it pertains to people. So if they're not 18-30 years old and single we pass them off to other missionaries. This leads to talking to a lot of people and giving other missionaries opportunities to go follow up with them and just praying we get some opportunities returned to us. We haven't gotten any from the other missionaries yet, but we've gotten 2 texts from new random numbers asking if we're the missionaries and if they can meet with us and learn more. This doesn't just happen people!! This kind of thing never happens. It was an incredible blessing and a reminder to me that if we're doing our best to work our hardest and be obedient the Lord is going to take care of us.

As we're talking to everyone, we're finding that some ways are better than others and we're constantly brainstorming new ways to approach people. The holidays provide great opportunities, so we decided to utilize mother's day. I had heard of other missionaries in some part of the world using QR codes to talk to people so we decided to try that. The church has a beautiful video about mothers. If you haven't seen it go watch it on motherhood.mormon.org. We made a QR code link to that website and made little mother's day flyers. We ended up talking to 60+ people in an hour and a half and inviting them to go watch the video and to learn more about the church if we had more time to talk to them. It was a fantastic idea and makes me excited to keep trying new methods.

So that was Saturday afternoon; that morning a 14 year old girl was baptized that I got to meet on exchanges last week. She found the church on Wikipedia and then went to mormon.org and requested missionaries because she knew what she was reading was right. 2 days before her baptism she set a goal to finish the Book of Mormon (she was in 1Nephi) and she actually did it. She finished the entire BoM in a day and a half. What a miracle. She is such an incredible example of faith. She comes from a rough background, but her family is now learning too because of her example. How amazing.

Mother's Day was amazing. It was so nice to be able to talk to my family and hear all the good things they're doing. I've got a pretty great family, just sayin. Happy Mother's Day to all you wonderful women out there and especially my own Mom. Thanks for all you've taught me and your wonderful examples.


Sister Andreason

Monday, May 5, 2014

Sudden Transfer to Young Single Adults Ward

Me and my new companion, Sister King
Sister King has already been in this area for 5 transfers (about 6 months) which is as long as I've been on my mission. She'll have spent half her mission here by the end which is a really long time. Her last companion just got her visa to go to Brazil, so President called me Tuesday morning and I packed and went to the office that afternoon and sister Shell flew out and I took her place here. It's been a crazy week but I love it so much!!

I am in the Sam Houston 1st YSA ward which covers 3 stakes and consists of Young Single Adults (18-30) in that area. My new companion is Sister King. She is a STL like my trainer was so we'll be doing frequent exchanges with other sisters which are always opportunities for growth. I love it here. Sister King and I work great together and we have so much fun. YSA wards are a lot different from a normal family ward, our focus is on the specific age group that attend our ward, so we don't go tracting quite as much but we do a lot of talking to people at parks and give a lot of referrals to other missionaries. We're also trying to find better ways to work with members. Our ward is going to grow with everyone coming home or working here for the summer and this ward has sooo much potential we're just trying to figure out how to tap it. 

My whole week has been amazing, for example, here's Wednesday:

Went to a chevy dealership to take our cruze in because of a recall and ended up getting a rental (black chevy impalla for Aedan's sake). We got to talk to some people there and had a great conversation with a woman that lives in the boundaries of my last area, Magnolia. She was super sweet and hopefully the missionaries there will get to talk to her more.

We went to "The Mission" a Christian group that meets at Lone Star College. It was the last meeting of the school year, and it was an interesting experience. It was a lot different than anything else I've been to and it was super weird to be back on a college campus again with everyone my age as a missionary, but the people there are great! They have incredible faith and love God. We got into a slightly heated discussion with a couple of the people there, but when we remembered to testify and let the Spirit teach it was much better.

Had the most fantasticly legit mexican tostadas I've ever eaten in my life and then we went to a lesson with Sandra, one of our investigators. One of the perks of having an area the size of 3 stakes is that you can do lessons at the temple. It's amazingly powerful. We got there and met up with Sandra and a member of our ward and we got to go sit in the waiting room in the temple and have our lessons there. As soon as we sat down Sandra said, "I've decided I want to be baptized." She has been reading and coming to church for a couple months and recently had an incredible experience reading some verses somebody marked for her in the Book of Mormon that answered all of her concerns. The Spirit told her that this decision would make her so happy and that she shouldn't wait any longer and she's so excited. It's amazing. There are so many miracles happening here.

Thurs, Fri, Sat were great. Talked to lots of people, visited lots of people and had a wonderful zone meeting with other missionaries on the importance of talking with everyone and doing all we can to Hasten the Work of the Lord. Sunday was so fun. It was so different being in a Singles ward...sacrament was dead silent, missionary correlation meeting was a lot funnier, lots of funny couples who just need to get married already, everyone is my age, and our ward leaders are still learning how to do a lot of things but they're working so hard. I also have a friend in the ward! Someone I worked with at Aspen Grove last summer, Amy, comes to this ward and she's home for the summer. How exciting! It was so good to see her.

Sorry for the crazy long email, but that just scratches the surface of all the amazing things that happened this week. I know it's because we've been putting all our efforts into doing all we can here and talking to everyone. The Lord i blessing us. This is His work and He is involved in it.

Love you bunches!!