Monday, July 28, 2014

Miracles! Taylor's Baptism!! Pray for Charlie !!!

I don't even know where to begin with all the incredible things that happened this week. Lets start with the baptism this weekend, shall we?

Taylor is incredible. The week before the baptism is often full of really hard things because Satan hates us and is determined to do all he can to stop the work. So Taylor got in 3 car accidents the week before her baptism, thankfully she wasn't hurt, but still, crazy!  Everything went smoothly at the baptism though! It was combined with one of the Elder's investigators and it was just beautiful, very spiritual, I am just so happy. I was thinking as I was listening to one of the speakers right before the baptism how much God loves each of us. How much He knows me, how much He knows Taylor, and the unique journey we all have, the unique challenges He gives us and how it brings us closer to Him.

left to rightsister nielsen, me, taylor, kyle, elder hillebrant, elder christensen

Tara is so cute, and so amazing. Her mom got baptized in February and while she's back from College Station for the summer we've been meeting with her and she's eager to learn more. She's had the same standards growing up that most people in our church have and has been asked if she's a mormon before, so she's excited to be learning what we believe and finding that it's really similar to what she already knows. In our last meeting we read Mosiah 18 together and she set a baptismal date! She'll be back at college when it gets here, but we'll cross that bridge when we get to it.

Sandra is doing great! We had the opportunity to go with her to the temple to do baptisms for her first time! She was so excited and said that it felt like her own baptism all over again, which isn't really surprising :) The temple is such a place of peace, and it's such a wonderful opportunity to go and serve those who have passes on. Sandra has a calling now with family history and she brought some names that she was able to do! It's amazing the influence our ancestors can have on us, they're closer than we know.

Christina is a girl we met about a week ago. She's dating someone who attends our ward and came last Sunday and this Sunday and we've gotten to meet with her a couple times. Her boyfriend is preparing to serve a mission and has been reading The Book of Mormon with her and talking to her a lot about what we believe. Her grandma is an active member, but her mom is less active and she didn't really grow up in the church. It's been exciting to see how eager she is to learn as well. Last night she called us and told us she wanted to be baptized. It was possibly the greatest phone call I've ever received. So we're meeting with her tonight and we're going to talk about it more :D

Charlie is one of the greatest people I've ever met, but my heart is torn in little pieces right now because of him. We've been meeting with him for a while, he was learning, reading, coming to church, happy, progressing, and now he's decided to take a break from lessons for a while because he was feeling some pressure and wants to figure things out. I care about him a whole lot and want him to be happy. It's really scary to take a step back sometimes, but we're going to leave it in God's hands and trust that He will take care of the things we cannot. We've met with him enough that I know that He has felt the truth of the Book of Mormon, he recognizes the Spirit. His character and integrity are such that I know he wants to do the right thing. Please keep him in your prayers!!

Also, on a lighter note, we got some temporary roommates last Monday! The sisters in another ward were living with a member who ended up being able to adopt a couple kids, so they had to move out suddenly and since we have been lucky enough to have a huge 2 bedroom apartment with just 2 missionaries they moved in. It's a tad bit cramped now, but also a ton of fun. It's nice to hear about what's happening in other wards and other missionaries struggles and successes. It helps us all to keep motivated.

Love you all!

Sister Andreason

Monday, July 21, 2014

Faith and Learning

It's been a week of up and downs. We went downtown on Monday which was super fun! We got to go to the museum of natural science and walk around and go up on a huge tower to see the view of the city. It was fun to get out of our normal area and do something different. Not to mention the people in our district are super fun and we had a good time together.

Some miracles from this week: one of our recent converts, Sandra followed the promptings from the Spirit and invited a total stranger to church. The elders had a great lesson with him and he's very willing to learn! It's amazing to see people who just found the church so recently turn around and start sharing it with others. They want those around them to have the same joy they've found. 

I was reading about King Lamoni's father in the Book of Mormon today and was thinking about the power of recent converts in sharing their testimony. This is right after the king has prayed to know God is there, he falls to the earth, and then Aaron raises him up, Alma 22:23says, "And the king stood forth, and began to minister unto them. And he did minister unto them, insomuch that his whole household were converted unto the Lord."  Anyone can have a "recent convert experience" as you take steps to strengthen and grow your own testimony you will feel the desire to share it with others which will further increase your testimony. You have more influence than you know.

Our investigator Charlie disappeared for a while which scared us silly. We were so worried about him. Turns out his phone wasn't working very well, but we want to make sure we really understand any concerns he has too. Joining the church is a huge change a huge commitment. As missionaries, we need to listen and understand so we can really help those we teach with their individual needs.

We've gotten some great referrals from other missionaries with some wonderful people we hope to keep teaching. We're trying to do our best to keep inviting others to learn and find people for them to teach too! I was also eaten alive by mosquitoes this week (nothing new) but I got some other whopper bite that got huge and swollen... so the mission doctor put me on some antibiotics and it's better now :)

We found a celestial area to talk to people at. We taught 3 mini lessons in an hour there one night just walking around. People were so nice and willing to listen! We even found a YSA which doesn't happen very often!
We also had a great lesson with this girl named Christina! Her friend Dillon has been talking to her a lot about the church and we got to meet her last night and had a great lesson! We hope to keep helping her learn. Dillon has been great in answering her questions and helping her learn more! It's amazing what can happen when everybody comes together to move the work forward :)

This 25 thing has been really hard. It's been trial and error and Sister Nielsen and I have really been trying to figure out how to make it work better in this area that we're in. The Lord is working a mighty change in me. I'm more aware of the people around me and more motivated to go talk to them. With the goal in mind you won't let people pass you by, we're trying to invite everyone!! It still takes a lot of effort and it's still stretching me a lot in an almost painful way, but it's good for me too.

I've been reflecting on this tough patch right now, this challenge to invite 25 people a day, and what I need to learn from it. What does the Lord want me to learn from this right now? I came up with a couple of answers:
It's teaching me to not wait to begin. sometimes just knowing how to begin, getting started, that first invite of the day even can be a struggle. My dad always says in reference to exercising "showing up is the hardest part" Same goes for inviting, just the first words are hard, and then it gets easier.

It's teaching me greater faith and perseverance. sometimes people don't want to listen, you have a really unsuccessful day and nobody wants to keep talking to people who don't want to listen. So having the faith that the Lord will put people in your path who want to listen and to keep going anyways takes strength.

It's teaching me how to exercise faith. Faith is an action! So having an opportunity to daily, hourly even to exercise my faith by extending an invitation to someone to learn more is a blessing and a challenge. It has definitely increased my testimony and hopefully I'll be able to use that to strengthen others in the future.

I'd invite you to look at some of the things you may be struggling with right now. Everything happens for a reason, and often we're stuck with a trial until we learn what we need to from it. Figuring out what needs to change helps us be able to focus and to change it. Take some time to think about that, you'll be surprised what insights the Lord has to give you.

 Love you lots!!


Sister Andreason

Monday, July 14, 2014

Insights and Increased Faith

Hey y'all!

I promised I'd give insight #2 from our President's training this week, but we also had interviews this week, so there's so much to tell!

Alma 17 and 18 talks about the sons of Mosiah, specifically Ammon in his missionary work as he works to defend the flocks of King Lamoni. I'm going to take bits and pieces from the story and tell you how our mission president interpreted it and how it relates to missionary work.

Alma 17

21"And thus Ammon was carried before the king who was over the land of Ishmael; and his name was Lamoni; and he was a descendant of Ishmael"

25-27" But Ammon said unto him: Nay, but I will be thy servant. Therefore Ammon became a servant to king Lamoni. And it came to pass that he was set among other servants to watch the flocks of Lamoni, according to the custom of the Lamanites.
And after he had been in the service of the king three days, as he was with the Lamanitish servants going forth with their flocks to the place of water, which was called the water of Sebus, and all the Lamanites drive their flocks hither, that they may have water
Therefore, as Ammon and the servants of the king were driving forth their flocks to this place of water, behold, a certain number of the Lamanites, who had been with their flocks to water, stood and scattered the flocks of Ammon and the servants of the king, and they scattered them insomuch that they fled many ways."

Alma 18:

7 "Now it was the practice of these Lamanites to stand by the waters of Sebus to scatter the flocks of the people, that thereby they might drive away many that were scattered unto their own land, it being a practice of plunder among them."

So lets look at the symbols here

Ammon/ a righteous servant= righteous servants, missionaries, anyone who is serving God
Lamoni/ the king= The King, God
Flocks= those who are seeking truth, Christ, nourishment
Water= Christ, often referred to as the Living Water
Enemies= Satan and his minions

As servants of God our job is to help bring the flocks to water--to Christ. However we see from the last verse that it's the practice of these enemies to hang out by the water. As we try to bring others closer to Christ, Satan is going to try to stop it and take the flocks for himself. It's something he does consistently. So with that knowledge, what is our responsibility as servants of the King? Well, we probably ought to warn those we teach that Satan is intent on their destruction and do our best to protect them and prepare them for opposition so that they can come and partake of the water.

This blew my mind when I first heard it. I've read that story a million times and never looked at it that way. Look at all the insights and symbolism that can be found in the Book of Mormon. You find something new every time. It's so important to keep reading it.

In other news. We had interviews with President this week and he has a lot of energy coming in. President Mortensen has a great vision for where he wants this work to go and how to get there. So when we came into interviews he sat us down, talked with us for a minute, and then proceeded to commit each missionary individually to invite 25 people to learn each day, every day, for the rest of our mission. I feel like I'm a pretty decent missionary but that was a huge jump for me to make. President promised miracles like we had never seen before and promised that as we do this that our entire mission would change and the work would take off in a way it hadn't before. I really felt like an investigator with an addiction (if my addiction was not talking to people as much or being lazy) sitting there being asked to commit to change. I had so many thoughts and concerns running through my mind.

I'm in a YSA ward and I'm driving half the day. It's harder to get 25 than somebody on a bike. What if we're so focused on getting the 25 that we neglect other things. What about other things we're trying to do.. are you sure this applies to me?

Then as I'm sitting in the position of investigator, the things that I would say as a missionary kept coming to mind. "First you obey, then you understand." "If any man will do His will he shall know of the doctrine, whether I speak of God, or whether I speak of myself." (John 7:17) "Faith is a principle of action. Show your faith and then you can see the blessings."

These are all things that I tell the people I teach every day and then when it was asked of me, it was kind of hard! I had enough faith to realize that even though I didn't understand all the reasons why President was asking this of me, and even though I thought he didn't fully understand my circumstances, I said yes and committed to invite 25 people a day, every day for the rest of my mission. Let's just say it's kind of funny reading my journal entries over the past few days and watching my heart change. 

Entry 1: reluctant, resentful, worried, trying to figure out how this is going to happen
Entry 2: attempts at being humble and renewed commitment to obedience, realized I was acting like Laman and Lemuel and wondering if Nephi ever complained a little. still got 26 though!
Entry 3: relapse into lower amounts of invites, but renewed focus and turning to Christ
Entry 4: lots of prayers to change my heart and will to be God's will. It doesn't do me any good if I'm doing it but hating it all the while. That doesn't change me, that's not the purpose. And it doesn't do other people much good either. Miracles happen.

Sister Nielsen and I felt very similar at the beginning and we've been growing together and motivating each other. The things about being in a YSA is that most of the people we contact aren't for us, we don't end up teaching them, we pass them on to somebody else. So we went tracting in a random neighborhood last night and found someone golden! He was so willing to listen to us on his doorstep at 8:45 at night. We got home and called the elders who were over that area and were happy we found someone for them! Then we got a text from some sisters in The Woodlands saying they found us someone for us to teach!! Miracles happen guys.

So that definitely built my faith that God knows what he's doing, that He will bless us for our efforts, that President is inspired, and that I need to kick it up a notch. It was a good learning curve for me this week. I needed someone to make me commit so I would do it and look what happened!

Hope y'all aren't afraid to put your faith to the test. Miracles happen. God keeps His promises. Blessings will come.

Love you all!!

Sister Andreason

We decided we needed to get super pumped after president committed us to invite 25 people a day to learn about the gospel.  We found a skirt that somebody had left in the apartment that didn't fit anyone.
We rent it, tied it to a broom handle and made our own title of liberty :)

Monday, July 7, 2014

The Book of Mormon--A Covenant

So lots of exciting events this week... Met our new president, got amazing insights from him, had great lessons with our stellar investigators, taught a group of bridesmaids at the temple as 2 members of our ward got sealed...

President and Sister Mortensen

Amazing Insights from President:

We make covenants because it binds us to God and increases our influence over Satan. When we're bound to God we become closer to Him and more like Him. I loved this quote he shared:

"God binds to free, Satan frees to bind." 

Think about that for a minute.

President then talked about the covenants we make. There's the obvious ones that come to mind, Baptism, Endowment, Marriage... some less obvious ones, Sabbath Day (Exodus 31:16-17, D&C 59: 9-10), Priesthood (D&C 84:39). 

But he wanted to focus on something that I doubt anyone has really considered a covenant: The Book of Mormon.   D&C 84:54-57 says "And your minds in times past have been darkened because of unbelief, and because you have treated lightly the things you have received—which vanity and unbelief have brought the whole church under condemnation. And this is condemnation resteth upon the children of Zion, even all. And they shall remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant even the Book of Mormon and the former commandments which I have given them, not only to say, but to do according to that which I have written—"  

What was it Joseph Smith said, "I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts than by any other book."

The problem is, sometimes we treat it like any other book. We need to be reading it every day, and those who want to gain a testimony of it ought to be doing the same. Do you think a verse is enough? A page? You tell me what a meaningful amount is for you, and then do it.

I was blown away by this new way of looking at the Book of Mormon and the emphasis we should be giving it. I would challenge all of you to look at the priority you give to the Book of Mormon in your life. If you're not making time to read it every day you should consider making it a higher priority. I'm running out of time, so I might share insight #2 next week. Somebody remind me.

Phenomenal Investigators:

So Taylor is just great. Teaching her makes me happy, and it's been wonderful to see her faith and testimony continue to grow and see the way the gospel is influencing her life for the better. She sent us this text a few days ago that just about made me cry.

"Thank you so much for teaching me at the temple today. It felt so magical. I could feel the strong spiritual presence and was so happy. I'm reading Mosiah right now, such a great way to wind down and relax for the evening and then pick up where you left off in the morning. You don't know how thankful I am for both of you in my life. You guys are truly angels sent by God to help me get on the right path like you showed me in our second lesson.  I love you guys so much!!  Which is a miracle because I used to think I'd never know what love is or be able to feel it for others because of my autism, but the Holy Ghost has truly blessed me and will even more on the 26th!"

Anyways .. she is golden!! Such a special daughter of God.  We're all so excited for her baptism and it's been such a blessing to see how her life is changing. It's changing mine to watch it!! 

We've also been meeting with Charlie, he's as amazing as ever. We had a lesson on Wednesday and he came in feeling a little shaky about his baptismal date in a few weeks. After talking and clarifying a few principles our ward mission leader who was there with us, testified of the Book of Mormon and praying to know. We ended the lesson and I looked right at Charlie and said, "Charlie, do you want to pray and ask?" He nodded. "Sure." He began his prayer and was so sincere. Sister Nielsen and I were praying so hard in our hearts that God would answer him. After expressing gratitude for all he's learned, he asked God to give him a feeling to let him know if it was right and then went completely silent for a couple minutes. He said, "I'm speechless" and then ended the prayer. The Spirit had flooded the room and we all felt it. It was incredible to watch his sincere prayer of faith answered so quickly. We've assigned him various chapters from the Book of Mormon to read. He came to our last lesson having read it 3 times to really understand it better, along with President Monson's last conference talk. He ponders what we teach him and asks amazing questions. I am so excited for Charlie and all he's learning and what the Lord has in store for him.

We also met Debbie this week. Our mission president was grabbing a quick lunch with his family and talked to her at smash-burger. She asked him if he was a minister.. and he said yes. I am... have you ever been to one of our churches before? No? You would love it!  So we get this referral from President, tried texting her. No response. So we might as well drop by, Right? We did and she was home! We got to know her, taught her about the Restoration and God's love for us and invited her to church. We found her a ride and she came!!! :D So there we are Sunday morning sitting in the chaple talking to an investigator and a less active that had come and in walks President Mortensen! "I heard Debbie was coming to church today and I'm here to report back to my incredulous family that miracles do happen. In walks Debbie a few minutes later. It was so amazing to see her come after just meeting her yesterday, and I learned from President's example of love and caring for individuals in taking time out of his hectic schedule to come see one person.

We also got to give a tour of the temple grounds to a group of bridesmaids, most of which were non-members as they waited for 2 members or our ward to get sealed. It was a neat opportunity to talk about the importance of temples and families as a wedding was going on.

Anyways, I have more to say, but no time to do it. Love you all lots! Read the Book of Mormon!! 


Sister Andreason