Monday, June 30, 2014

Temple and Growth

Dear family and friends,

President Pingree leaves tomorrow which breaks my heart, but President Mortensen flew in today and we get to meet him on Friday! I feel really blessed that I get to have two mission presidents and it's exactly 1/2 through my mission. This past week President Pingree planned probably the coolest thing ever to happen to missionaries. We got to go to the temple (so blessed to have one so close) and do an endowment session, and then sit in the temple with Pres Pingree and the temple president and learn and ask questions for 2 hours. Whoa. Some of the questions we discussed were the ones I sent in my last email, but Pres Crane, the temple president also asked us to consider these while we were in the temple:

1. What is my true identity?
2. What does it mean to be an agent?
3. What does it mean to offer sacrifice in the similitude of the great Sacrifice of the Son of God?

I learned a lot as I contemplated those questions in the Lord's holy house and as we shared insights with each other. We are truly children of our Heavenly Father. He loves us and we have the potential to be like Him. That's what this life is all about, progression, growth, becoming what He wants us to be. 

The sweetest moment for me was when we walked into the celestial room in the temple. We came in one or two at a time and President Pingree was waiting there to greet us individually. The amount that he knows each of the 300 or so missionaries here continues to amaze me. He complimented and encouraged us in something specific and told us how much he loved us. I went and sat down in the room and watched as missionary after missionary came through and President did the same thing for each of them. I was overwhelmed with the amount of love that he had for each of us and it reminded me of how much the Savior must love all of us. I think President Pingree is one of the most Christ-like people I've ever met. You can't help but love him because he loves you first. You always feel encouraged and lifted when you're with him. That's the kind of person I want to be.

In other news we have some of the greatest investigators ever. Charlie is rock solid and amazing. We had a great lesson when one of our recent converts was able to come with us and share his experiences in moving towards baptism. Frank was baptized a couple months ago and just shared his story with Charlie and addressed concerns we didn't even know about. We talked about setting goals as an act of faith and then taking a plan to the Lord and asking if it's right. So we're planning on July 19th for his baptism! I am so excited. There is no better way to grow to love people than by helping them learn more about Jesus Christ.

One of our other recent converts got to teach Gospel Principles class this week. We've been putting recent converts with other members and having them team-teach. It's been really successful and Sandra put so much effort into her lesson. It was so good! It was all about the Holy Ghost and she had so many experiences that she shared of the way the Spirit helped influence her as she came to develop a testimony of the Book of Mormon and the Church.

Taylor is also doing really well. She just soaks up everything we teach her so fast. We've taught most of the commandments and her date isn't till the end of July. Speaking of the end of July, we have 3 people planning on getting baptized July 26th. Taylor, and an investigator the Elders in our ward are teaching, and another YSA who Elders in another ward are teaching because they live closer. What amazing miracles. This is the Lord's work. He is involved in the amazing miracles and blessings that happen so frequently.

Love you all! Keep the Pingree and Mortensen families in your prayers. They both have 5+ kids and it's a huge transition.


Sister Andreason

Monday, June 23, 2014

Swing, Sacrifice and Service

First off we had the weirdest FHE I've ever been a part of as a missionary. Elder Valdez who finished his mission last week is a phenomenal dancer. He's on all sorts of teams at BYU and has done everything dance. So the day before he went home was Monday and we decided to combine a couple FHE groups and have him teach us some things. He taught some swing and cha-cha. It was really weird to be a missionary at this FHE. But Sister King and I were great together. I remembered what I'd learned from some of my basic classes at BYU and it was tons of fun.

This week was also transfers and I said goodbye to Sister King (love her dearly) who had been in this area for half her mission, and said hello to Sister Nielsen! Sister Nielsen was trained by my MTC companion which is kinda cool and she's great. I'm excited for everything we can do here in the Sam Houston 1st YSA ward. It's been interesting taking over the area after just shy of 2 months. The last time i took over an area in so short a time it was really stressful. This time, although I felt there was more to keep track of and more I still didn't know, I wasn't nearly as stressed. This whole week I have tried to be very mindful in inviting the Lord into every aspect of the work. The planning, teaching, studying, finding, working with the ward, my companion. As I have tried to rely more fully on His strength, everything has been easier. I still feel like there's a lot to remember, but it's not as overwhelming. I'm also trying to involve my companion as well, sometimes it's easier to just do it myself because I know the area already, but I know that we can be much more powerful as we work together to accomplish the Lord's will in this area.

Already we have been blessed so much. We had our 3 solid investigators come to church yesterday as well as some less actives. Charlie, Tara, and Taylor are all phenomenal people with incredible stories. You've heard most of Taylor's and I think I've told you about Charlie. Tara's mom got baptized in Feb and she's back from school for the summer. She is so open and willing to learn. It's so great. I'm just excited for the continued progress of these people and more whom the Lord has prepared.

Frank, one of our recent converts, blessed the sacrament for the first time yesterday. It was so sweet to see him up there hear him speak the words that enabled each of us to partake of a little cup of water, now made sacred. Frank continues to blossom. He is one of the best members in the ward in reaching out to investigators and helping them through the transition and everything there is to learn. Our lesson in gospel principles was on Baptism. Frank was sitting by one of our investigators and said with a smile, "oh, it's on baptism! you better pay attention" :)

In other news, I'm incredibly sore. Got to do really intense yoga today on top of what we did this weekend. We played frisbee for an activity that we invited a lot of non-members to. One of the perks of being in a YSA ward is that you find people to teach mostly by having fun. It's the best. So we played frisbee, and then helped an investigator who was a friend of someone in our ward move. She was so amazed by how everyone came and pulled together to help her move everything. I love the opportunity to serve people, it's honestly one of my favorite parts of the mission is that you get to dedicate all of your time in the service of others.

Our mission president, President Pingree, goes home in a couple weeks and I'm so sad about it, but excited for what we can learn from President Mortensen. But before Pres. Pingree goes home, we have the opportunity of a lifetime to have specialized training with him and the Temple President in the temple tomorrow. I am beyond excited for all we can learn there. In preparation for this he gave us several questions to ponder which I'm sure you will find instructive as you take the time to study and ponder on them.

Read D&C 138:1-4, 12-13

1. What does it mean to “offer sacrifice in the similitude of the great sacrifice of the Son of God?”
2. What implications does this have for me and the type of sacrifice I need to make in my life?
3. How do temple covenants help me to offer such a sacrifice?

I have gained many new insights into the Atonement of Christ as I've thought about these questions and the kind of sacrifice I can give and how that will bring me closer to the Savior.

"Sacrifice is demonstration of pure love. The degree of oulove for the Lord, for the gospel, and for our fellowman can be measured by what we are willing to sacrifice for them. Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ manifested the supreme example of this love...Through His personal sacrificeHe provided way for us to have our sins forgiven and, through Him, to find our way  back into the presence of our Heavenly Father." (M. Russell Ballard April 1992)

I love you all. Thank you for your sacrifice and love. I'd love to hear your thoughts on the questions :)


Sister Andreason

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

A Paint-stained Carpet and the Atonement

Lots of amazing things this week,

One of the highlights was a very cool, slightly traumatic, experience that makes a perfect metaphor for the Atonement... We were over at a friend's house helping her paint her room and had just moved the drop cloth from one wall to the other. The paint bucket somehow ended up underneath the cloth and as I tried to move the bucket it tipped. The lid looked like it was on at the time, but as i tried to move it I spilled over half a bucket of charcoal gray paint on a cream carpet. A feeling of dread and guilt and horror swept over me and I immediately stood the bucket back up and started trying to scoop the excess paint back in.

My paint fiasco
Within moments my companion was helping me and we got the majority of it off the carpet... but there was still a huge stain on the carpet and I really didn't think it was ever going to come out...and neither did anyone else. 

The thoughts going through my mind were, "Dang it! What have I done? This stain is never coming out. I'm going to have to buy her new carpet...I wonder how much that costs?" Our friend started googleing solutions and we tried option one: squeegee with butter knives--it got some more goop up but didn't remove the stain. She then called her mom and her mom told her to peel the carpet up, put towels underneath and flush it with water and scrub with soap. So we did! We poured half a bottle of Dawn soap and some water on the stain and started scrubbing with our hands. There were a lot of dirty suds but it didn't look like it was doing anything at first. 

We kept scrubbing and it started looking a little lighter. We kept at it for a full hour repeating the process of applying soap, water, scrubbing, removing the dirty suds and with a lot of work from lots of people we got it clean. Our hands were pretty smooth by then end of it and all 5 of us were exhausted.

 The towels underneath the carpet were soaked, stained, and needed a good cleaning too, but the stain on the carpet was gone.

So the moral of the story is that paint comes out of carpet and sin comes out of sinners. Dawn soap=The Atonement. Some insights I found were that if you scrub without the soap you won't get anywhere, but if you apply soap and don't work to scrub you won't get it clean either. Sometimes our sins effect others (like the towels) and we have to get those clean, but Dawn soap fixes everything. And even when you think a stain won't come out, there's still hope. There are more parallels you can draw as you think about it, but it was an amazing analogy from a crazy experience. We're also getting to teach the girl later this week :)

Friday we went blueberry picking for a ward activity. Probably the best activity ever. We brought home a lot of blueberries and they will all go in our smoothies :) We had some less actives and an investigator come to it, so I'd count that as successful. We're working on getting more people to activities like that in the future, but it's a process. And the work in this ward is rocking anyways. We've had people bringing friends to church and FHE all the time. It's almost hard to talk to all the non members that are there sometimes (I'm not complaining! :D). The challenge is to follow up with everyone and actually set appointments, but that's going great too. Not everyone who comes is always interested in learning, and not everyone keeps appointments, but there are so many good things happening. Remember what I said in my last letter? Y'all are the key. Keep inviting :)

Also, this week we also had specialized training with President and we talked a lot about the importance of The Restoration. We read this talk, which is a phenomenal one to read if you haven't: 
It's called "What is the Blueprint of Christ's Church?" It explains all the identical features between the church described in the New Testament and the Restored Church today.

President also asked us a question, "How would my life be different with out the Restoration?" something good to think about. As I thought about it, I couldn't even begin to fathom what my life would be like? The Restoration and the influence the Church has had on my life has been so significant and effected every facet of my life it's hard to think of what I would be like with out it. I am so grateful for the blessings that come from the Restoration to name but a few, The Book of Mormon, Priesthood, Living Prophets, Temples... the list could go on and on. Take a minute and think about all the blessings that have come to your life because of the Restoration and the understanding you have because of it. There are so many people who don't have that, and that's why missionary work is so exciting. Because we get to share our unique message with the world. The Light and Knowledge and Truth that so many people don't have. It's such a blessing. Think of someone in your life that could use a little more understanding (shouldn't be too hard) and think of how the doctrine of the Restoration could bless them.
Love you all! Wish you the best! Happy Belated Father's Day to my own Dad and to all the other dads out there :)


Sister Andreason

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Miracles, miracles and more miracles

Dear Family and Friends,

We have just had blessings pouring down on us this week. We have been so blessed with referrals lately it's crazy. Usually it's a little more difficult to find people in a YSA (young single adult) ward because our pool of people is limited to 18-30 yr olds albeit in a geographical area of 3 stakes. But the past few weeks we have almost been overwhelmed with the number of people who want to learn or have friends who want to learn. We've gotten random texts from a couple people asking to learn more. We got a text from a former investigators saying she got a very clear message from God that this is where she needs to be and she wants to come to church again. We've had several members from other wards call us and tell us that they have a friend or daughter who they want us to start teaching. We've had several sets of missionaries from other areas give us YSAs that they've been teaching because our ward would be better for them. Not to mention the people God has placed in our path that we've been able to contact. We counted and we have at least 14 people who have come to us through no effort on our part. Many of those people are really solid and eager to learn. I keep trying to figure out what we did to deserve something like this and we really didn't do anything. It's just an amazing blessing from Heaven. Charlie was one of those people and he came to church on Sunday and loved it. He's like a sponge and learns so much and has such great questions.

Another one of these miracle people we taught this last week might be one of the biggest miracles on my mission. I don't even know where to start. There's this woman in one of the other wards that has a blog: where she talks about her experiences with grief and God as she has dealt with the loss of her 19 yr old daughter a year and a half ago. Hers is an incredible story of faith and dependence on the Savior. She felt prompted to start this blog, and through it many people have come closer to Christ. One of these people is Taylor who knew Maddie in kindergarten and when she found out about her death went and found this blog. She found out their family was Mormon and wanted to learn more. She messaged Jolynn, Madeline's mom, and Jolynn called us and we set up an appointment. 

On Friday, we got there at noon and sat down and started talking. Taylor is super intelligent and was eager to learn. She has mild autism, and is very sharp. She knew a lot already because she had researched all she could about the Church. We talked to her about the Book of Mormon... turns out she had read up to Mosiah already. Who does that!?! She's amazing! We ended up teaching her the entire Restoration which she accepted. She asked some questions and we clarified a few points and she was eager to keep learning. So we broke for lunch and then started talking about the Plan of Salvation. That was even more powerful because of all of Jolynn's personal experiences with what happens after this life that she was able to share. I know Maddie was there with us and that she had a part in helping Taylor find the Church. The Lord has a very specific plan for everyone and He works in ways that often we don't understand. It was one of the most incredible days of my mission. Taylor texted us the next day to confirm a baptismal date in the next few weeks. I am so excited for her progress and so grateful for the blessings the Lord is pouring out upon us.

We also had a baptism this week. We've been team teaching her with the Elders in another ward. She has grown so much in just the short time I've known her. She wasn't going to get baptized for a long time, but then when someone else started bashing on the Church she had this urge to defend it and realized she knew it was true, and she was baptized last Saturday! She is continuing to grow leaps and bounds.
I know the work of the Lord will continue to progress as we do our part. The Lord needs willing hands as He hastens His work. Our mission President has been talking to us about the importance of members, especially in finding. You are so important!! There is so much going on in this area right now not because of anything my companion or I have done, but because of the individual efforts of a few people who have invited someone to learn more. As we invite the Spirit can touch hearts and lead people to a desire to learn more. I know the Lord can use you in so many ways to help those around you. Ask him to be an instrument and He will direct you.
Here's a few quotes from some General Authorities and PMG to get you inspired :)

“We need to exercise our faith that the Lord has prepared people around us to be taught. He knows who they are and when they are ready, and He can guide us to them by the power of the Holy Ghost and give us words to invite them to be taught. … Pray to be guided by the Holy Ghost. … I testify that the Holy Ghost will direct you to those who seek truth as you pray and work for that guidance” (Henry B. Eyring, “How Great Shall Be Your Joy, Ensign, Feb. 2011).

 “We…need divine assistance to guide us in sharing the gospel. ... We must pray for the Lord's help and directions so we can be instruments in His hands for one who is now ready—one He would have us help today. Then, we must be alert to hear and heed the promptings of His Spirit in how we proceed.  Those promptings will come. We know…that in His own way and His own time the Lord is preparing persons to accept His gospel. Such persons are searching, and when we are seeking to identify them the Lord will answer their prayers through answering ours. He will prompt and guide those who desire and who sincerely seek guidance in how, where, when, and with whom to share His gospel” (Dallin H. Oaks, “Sharing the Gospel,” General Conference, Oct. 2001).

 “Fear will be replaced with faith and confidence when members and the full-time missionaries kneel in prayer and ask the Lord to bless them with missionary opportunities. Then, we must demonstrate our faith and watch for opportunities to introduce the gospel of Jesus Christ to our Heavenly Father's children, and surely those opportunities will come” (M. Russell  Ballard, “Put Your Trust in the Lord,” General Conference, Oct. 2013).

 “I testify that prayer becomes meaningful as we ask in faith and act.  I invite all of us to pray in faith about our divinely given mandate to proclaim the gospel. As we do so, I promise doors will open and we will be blessed to recognize and act upon the opportunities that will be provided” (David A. Bednar, “Ask in Faith,” General Conference, Apr. 2008).

Sometimes we take upon ourselves too much credit or too much blame when it comes to others accepting the gospel. It’s important to remember that the Lord doesn't expect us to do the converting. Conversion comes not through our words but through the heavenly ministrations of the Holy Spirit. Sometimes all it takes is one single phrase of our testimony or about an experience to set in motion the softening of a heart or the opening of a door that can lead others to experience sublime truths through the promptings of the Spirit…  Brothers and sisters, have faith. The Lord can magnify the words you speak and make them mighty. God doesn't ask you to convert but rather to open your mouths. The task of converting is not yours—that belongs to the person hearing and to the Holy Spirit” (Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “A Word to the Hesitant Missionary,” Ensign, Feb. 2013).

Thank you for all the amazing things you are doing. Love you lots! Don't be afraid to invite. The Lord will give you His Spirit to help you in the things you say. D&C 100:5-8
Speak the thoughts that I shall put into your heart and you shall not be confounded before men...and i give unto you this promise, that insasmuch as ye do this the Holy Ghost shall be shed forth in bearing record unto all things whatsoever ye shall say.


Sister Andreason

Monday, June 2, 2014


Dearest family and friends,

This has been a week of random blessings and referrals... which are also huge blessings. I don't even know what we've done to deserve all these blessings because I know there are still many things I'm trying to do better, but we're trying to work hard, to talk to people, to do all we can. We had Temple this week and Stake Conference, so I learned a lot, but first some of the miracles.

Thursday is usually the day we do weekly planning, so we had planned to stay in our apartment and attempt to plan the rest of our week (it's harder with spontaneous YSAs). So we were doing our studies and we sang "I'll go where you want me to go" as our Hymn that morning.. About9:45 we got a text from a member who has breast cancer telling us to come over now!!! because her caretaker was asking tons of questions about the Book of Mormon. We felt a little like Clark Kent responding to a call. We grabbed our bags and ran out the door. We ended up getting to talk to her caretaker for a while and answer some questions. She has a sister that has had a lot of miscarriages and she was worried about the babies, so we started talking about the Plan of Salvation. We handed her a Book of Mormon and she turned right to Moroni 8 talking about how little children do not need baptism and are saved by the Grace of Christ. But then it got a little weird because we were trying to be nice and understanding, but she adamantly insisted that there is no pre-existence despite us reading Jeremiah 1:5, Romans 8:16-17, Eccl 12:7 and a variety of other scriptures and testifying of how the Holy Spirit works and speaks to our hearts and spirits. Oh well. It was a good discussion and we were glad to be able to be there to talk to her more about things she had wondered about.

No sooner had we returned to our apartment and started making a sandwich than we got another call from some guy Tony that was saved in our phone. Turns out Tony is a guy that works down the street that the Sisters had talked to in February. So we headed over and got to talk to him a little bit. He speaks more Spanish than English but we told him about what we do, and just then the Elders for that area rode by and we flagged them down and introduced Tony to them. There is no such thing as coincidence.

After that we got home, finished a couple things and then headed off to a hand-off appointment with some other Sisters. They've been teaching this guy named Charlie, but since all the people his age are in our ward, they figured it'd be better for him to be taught by us, so we went and he is great!! We taught the principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. So Faith, Repentance, Baptism, Receiving the Holy Ghost and Enduring to the End. We also talked about recognizing the Spirit. He's been praying about baptism but doesn't feel like he has a definite answer yet. So we talked about how the Spirit speaks to us to help him better recognize his answer when it comes, or if it already has. Sister King and I were reading from PMG this morning and talking about our responsibility in helping others become converted. A huge part of that is helping people make and keep commitments, but another huge part is helping them recognize the Spirit and the answers they receive. I think that's a strength I've been given too, to recognize the Spirit and help others recognize it too. Sister King is really good about helping investigators reflect on how they feel in lessons. As we testify of truth the Spirit really does touch us and change our hearts.

This letter is long and I haven't even gotten to the good stuff. Temple day was amazing. I amso grateful that our mission president lets us go to the Temple once a transfer. I know that's way more often than most people, but I still feel like it's not nearly enough. I can't wait to be able to attend more. It's so nice to live so close to the temple in this area, we get to have lessons on the grounds sometimes. Anyways, I felt more impressed than I ever have before as we went to the Temple that we are literally children of our Heavenly Father. If we understood just a little of what that really means it would change our perspective, our choices, our hearts and our desires. God loves us and he wants the best for His children. We have unlimited potential. I also learned more about sacrifice. The sacrifice required of us now is a broken heart and a contrite spirit. So I'm trying to do more to make that sacrifice and give more of myself to the Lord. I'd be interested to know how all of you have made that sacrifice, different ways its been manifest in your life and ways you've found to be more devoted to the Savior.
Saturday we got a lot more referrals that we're trying to follow up with. What a blessings, and then in the Sunday session of Stake Conference I learned a lot. Our Stake President said that some study said that families have an average of 55 things on their refrigerator. Items on your refrigerator are usually things we want to remember, accomplish, emphasize, or appreciate. What's on yours? He shared some things from his: family  picture, notes, quotes.. my favorite quote was this, "The fearful seek to serve themselves by mastering the world. the fearless seek to serve the world by mastering themselves." I feel like every area I'm in on my mission the Lord gives me a new challenge to help me learn and grow. I think the one here is learning how to master myself better. To learn how to push myself to reach my goals, to learn how to help myself grow.

Love you lots! Thanks for reading this enormously long letter. I'd love to hear about your goals and sacrifices.


Sister Andreason

Ultimate Frisbee Morning with our district.
A little practical joke on the APs who complain about having to drive a mini-can while we get to drive a Chevy Impalla :)