Monday, September 29, 2014

YEAR MARK! Come seeking . . .

Well, Thursday, September 25th was my year mark. That is beyond bizzare. I'm one of the old missionaries now. That means I only have 6 months before I go home. Weird. But a time like this is great for reflection and goal-setting, so I've been thinking about strengths I still want to develop, weaknesses I need to improve and where I'm heading. I am so excited for General Conference and the time of revelation it provides. I've been thinking a lot about questions too. Women's Conference last Saturday was amazing and I learned a lot but what stuck out to me most was part of President Uchtdorf's talk where he taught the principle: Come seeking and you will gain more. I've been thinking about the importance of preparation (also taught in women's conference) and asking the right questions.

Grandpa Sessions sent me a quote I really like by Tad R. Callister: "The power of a good question is of inestimable worth. It is like an... alarm clock that awakens us out of our mental doldrums. It is a catalyst that jump-starts our mental engines." In light of that I have been trying to prepare myself more for conference. I have been trying to soften my heart and open my mind to counsel and correction, to apply every talk to myself, realizing that I need to improve in all the areas talked about because I am far from perfect. I'm trying to ask good questions, to "come seeking" so I can gain more. I would encourage all of you to do the same.

Some of the miracles from this week include being able to teach a family! Now, you might ask, "Aren't you in a student ward? How does that work?" Let me tell you. Our investigator Brooke is amazing. She also happens to be one of the funniest people I know, but that's besides the point. She's getting baptized October 11th, and has been talking to her family about the Gospel and how much it has blessed her life already. She has changed a lot in many positive ways. Her sister wanted to learn more, so we went over to her house to teach her and invited her parents to sit in on the lesson. We were originally trying to pass them off to the family ward missionaries, but they got confused on where it was and which ward, so we ended up just teaching them this first time. It was so great to teach a whole family! They were all very attentive and interested in understanding, and Brooke was such a powerful influence! She bore her testimony repeatedly to her family about various principles we taught and the Spirit was so powerful when she spoke. It was an amazing lesson.

In addition to that our investigator Jacob set a baptismal date! He's doing great, and he seems very prepared. We have high hopes for him. His member girlfriend from Louisiana came up and attended our ward on Sunday. She's super great and is preparing to leave on her mission to Colorado in November. She bore her testimony during sacrament meeting and I loved her insights. She woke up at 4:30 or something ridiculous to drive here and along the way got to watch the sunrise and encountered a lot of bugs hitting her car. Here's the analogy.

Sunrises are beautiful, but one of the coolest parts about it is watching the world turn from gray to color. The higher the sun rises in the sky, the more vibrant the world becomes and the easier it is to see. Lets think about priorities here. How high is the Son in our life? The same principles apply, the higher He is, the more vibrant and beautiful life becomes and the easier it is to see. Now, as we go through the roads of life sometimes we'll have bugs hit our windshields--sometimes there's a lot of bugs. These are like sin that obscure our vision, but thankfully we have windshield wipers (repentance) that can get rid of it, but it only works if we have the spray stuff (faith). Beautiful insights from a seemingly simple drive. 

One of my other favorite talks from women's conference was Neill F. Marriot who said we have a responsibility to add light and truth to our lives and share it with others. As we come with open hearts and put the Son higher in our lives we'll gain more light, as we come seeking we will gain more. I invite all of y'all to come seeking to General Conference. Come with questions and with the intent to learn and change. I promise you'll gain more. Love you lots! I want to hear what everyone learned at Conference, or what their favorite part was.


Sister Andreason

Monday, September 22, 2014

The Kingdom of Heaven is like . . .

No major updates on me or people we're teaching, we're all still moving along.

Today I wanted to share some insights from my studies and institute. I am so blessed to be able to attend a fantastic institute class every week because we have investigators going and it is a time of marvelous spiritual enlightenment.

The class we generally go to is on the New Testament, and we are currently covering the gospels this semester. Last class we read in Matthew in chapter 13 and 14. This is where Christ gives many parables, all the "The kingdom of heaven is like unto..." There was so much insight I gained in just a few verses, I really wanted to share it with all of you! There are amazing principles to be learned from this.

1. Asking the right questions and taking time to ponder is a pre-requisite to spiritual enlightenment.
Brother Garlick, the teacher asked amazing questions about a few of the verses that made me (and the whole class) think about the scripture differently. As we thought and shared insights with one another, we were all edified.

2. There are multiple meanings to every parable. Discussing and learning in a class can help us to see different sides of it. Pondering precedes revelation.

So, to the scriptures:

Matt 13:44 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath and buyeth that field.

The kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure in a field.. so

How do we find it?

What do we do with it?

What can we assume about it?

What are different ways we find treasure?... we can be searching for it, stumble upon it, be led to it, inherit it... There is a spiritual application to all of these.

What do we do with it?...well like the man in the story, he sold all he had for joy and bought the field. Are we willing to give all we have for the gospel?

What can we assume?...if there is treasure in this field, and he found it, why did the man buy the field? If you find treasure somewhere, it's usually safe to assume there might be more close by. As we continue digging for truth and light in the gospel there is always more to be found.

Matt 13:45-46 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it. 

At first glance this parable might not appear too different from the last one, but wait! What is the kingdom of heaven like? A pearl? No, interestingly enough, it's a merchant man seeking goodly pearls. There are many meanings you can gain from this, but I want to share a few that I learned, and some of the implications for the truth found there.

Christ is the merchant man seeking goodly pearls. Let's re-read the parable like that.
The kingdom of heaven is like unto Christ, seeking souls. Who, when he had found one soul of great price, went and sacrificed all He had to bring it back to the Father.

What a powerful truth taught in such a simple parable! What can we learn from that interpretation?

If we are the pearl, how are we made? Pearls start off essentially as an irritant, something that discomforts the oyster. But, layer upon layer because of the struggle a pearl is made. We are given weaknesses that we may be made strong.

What does this tell us about our worth? Something is only worth as much as you are willing to pay for it. If you have a rare mint baseball card that's supposed to be worth a lot, but no one wants to pay that much, then it's really only worth what is paid for it. So if Christ gave an infinite sacrifice for us, if we are purchased with His blood, what does that tell us about our worth? How much are we valued in God's eyes?

Matt 13:47-50
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind: Which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away. So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth and sever the wicked from among the just, and shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Who are the fish? Who is fishing? What does the water represent? What does the net represent?

The fish are us, God is fishing, and if we look at 1 Nephi 15: 27, the water is filthy, it could represent the world. So we're fish, swimming around in the world, and the fisherman comes to lift us out with a net. Hold on, don't fish die when you take them out of the water? Yes, but as we are coming higher, becoming more like Christ, isn't something in us supposed to die? The natural man is to be overcome, and the closer we come to Christ, coming out of the water, the less that part of us has any power. Link that to the story of Jesus walking on the water...what kind of power does he have over water/the world? It doesn't affect him. And he can lift us higher.

Sorry this letter is so scattered today. Hope you learned something. My computer time was limited today and I had a couple other things I had to do. Love you lots! Share any other insights with me! Hope this gives you new perspective to the depth you can gain in your studies.


Sister Andreason

Monday, September 15, 2014

The Desire of our Hearts

Soo much to talk about and so little time. #missionlife

anyways... First things first.

Tara got baptized!!! Huzzah!! It's been super cool to follow her up here having taught her in my last area. She's doing great. Her baptism was spectacular. There were so many people from the ward who came to support her, her family, many of her non-member friends.. and the whole service was just inspiring and uplifting. Another perk was seeing some friends from my last area who came up for it. Sunday she received the gift of the Holy Ghost and then shared her testimony!! She did such a great job and I think it was so good for everyone to hear her story and her testimony and love for the gospel. She has such a light about her and she is going to be able to continue to share that with many other people.

Most of the missionaries involved with Tara, from left to right
Elder Chatwin, Sister Liljenquist, Sister Ae, Tara, Me, Sister McLean, Elder Chandler

Melane and Brooke. I have a hard time not talking about them together because they're always together. They're best friends and roommates and are both planning on being baptized in the next few weeks. Oct 11th to be exact. It is a joy to be in lessons with them first off because they're hilarious, but also because they are so eager to learn and willing to believe. It reminds me of stories from the Book of Mormon--people like Zeezrom, Lamoni, Lamoni's father and many other incredible people who had great faith and were willing to believe. Miracles surrounded those people and amazing things happened because of their faith (see Ether 12).

Deciding to make the commitment to be baptized can be really hard, especially when there is a lack of support from your family. Developing a solid testimony for yourself becomes even more necessary. Sunday God moved people around where He needed them and we had a great lesson one-on-one with Melane about faith and receiving and recognizing revelation to help address some of her concerns and fulfill her desire to have a stronger testimony. It was such a great lesson because of the earnest desire she has to know. One of the ways we are judged is by the "desires of our hearts" (D&C 137:9) Where your treasure is there will your heart be also. (Luke 12:34). Or, the things we desire are a good measure of what we value. I loved seeing Melane's honest desire to know, her desires for a testimony. Her honest concern about it shows how much she values it and it made me excited to help her learn because she already has that desire and has great faith. I am confident she will receive and answer.

Other investigators I've had are not as eager or wiling to do the seeking to obtain an answer. In the Book of Mormon after King Lamoni's amazing conversion a multitude is gathered to see what's happened. Lamoni starts to teach them and it says, as many as heard his words believed, and were converted unto the Lord. (Alma 19:31). But some wouldn't listen and thus were not converted. It's amazing to me how many people have no desire to learn more, they aren't curious, or think they know what we believe already. Others just refuse to listen. There's a quote by Aristotle I like, "It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it" I'm not asking everyone to automatically accept what we teach, but to entertain the thought, consider the possibility, and then find out! Pray and ask. Trust the promise from Moroni that you will get an answer. Believe in the possibility. I've tried it and I know it works. Asking in faith is a True, Eternal principle for receiving heavenly guidance and direction. I've seen that happen for many, many people throughout my mission.
We're teaching another girl who has read the entire Book of Mormon but feels she has not yet received an answer. I think it goes back to desires and how earnestly she wants it. We're trying to help her to find that answer and to know how significant it can be. The blessings that come to your life when you know the Truth and act on it are hard fathom.

There's another investigator who has begun reading the Book of Mormon and praying about it. I think he has sincere desires and hopefully we can help him receive and recognize the answer when it come for him.
I met another really cool person this week. She was baptized less than a year ago but is struggling with that a little bit now. She is struggling with a lot of the same things I was when I started college--like almost exactly, but she doesn't have, or doesn't want the support the church can bring. I don't know where I'd be without the knowledge that I have. I am so grateful for my testimony, but also for the opportunity to continue to learn and grow here on a mission. Its the greatest experience.
In other news football is still a big deal here. We had another home game which means the missionaries get  free food from the tailgate at the church--and I'm sure other tailgates if we walked around, we decided to use that time to plan instead.

If y'all didn't get to watch the CES fireside where Elder Christofferson talked you should go watch it because it was amazing. He spoke of losing your life to find it again. It was a mini miracle as well because it helped our investigators with their concerns.

Anyways, life is great, very busy, but that's how it should be. I hope y'all are doing well and seeking after good things in your life! :)


Sister Andreason

Monday, September 8, 2014

It's been quite a week! I can't even begin to tell you all the things that have happend or what my new area is like.

 There's too much!!

I guess I should probably start out by telling you where I am though...

I am in the Traditions YSA ward up in Temptation Station! Oh, I mean, College Station TX. Do you know what that means?! It means I'm in probably the greatest place ever. I'm on Texas A&M Campus for Fall semester and football season and it's gonna be crazy. People here are super intense about their football. The first home game was Saturday and everything shut down for it. Everywhere near Kyle Field was crazy. Aggies are pretty legit. They've got so many cool traditions and amazing things going on and everyone is super nice. There's about 55,000 people at the school, but in a lot of ways it reminds me of my the college I went to, BYU, mixed with a healthy dose of Texas. I'm going to go day-by day with some stuff so I don't miss anything. Ready, go.

Tuesday: was transfers, I got here with my new companion, Sister McLean (said Mclane) and took the spot of my old MTC companion Sister Maughan. I am in the same ward as one of my recent converts and an investigator from my last area who just started school up here. It's pretty fantastic. I am on a bike! Which while being super hot and sweaty is actually pretty fun. This ward, although still a YSA is a little different from my last one, so it's been fun seing similarities and differences. Campus is a gold mine of people to talk to and work to be done! Which is why there are now 3 sets of missionaries in this ward. Us, the elders, and the other elders. So we're going to have fun coordinating efforts. There's also another campus of a community college called Blinn nearby that we'll be working with too.

Wednesday: This is the first week of school, and my first day on campus. It was a little overwhelming. I didn't know where anything was and felt like a freshman (good thing I have a companion to teach me the ropes). There were so many people running around to classes, getting books...It's impossible to talk to them all, so figuring out the best way to do it and engage someone in conversation is a trick. Pass a long cards are amazing, and people here are suuuper nice. I think people turn down the offer of a card maybe 2% of the time. Also "howdy" is the common way to say hello to people here.

 I lie not! It's for real. I was slightly shocked and quite pleased. I am in true Texas territory. There are a bunch of Institute classes here, and it's been so cool to see how LDSSA works and what life on a non-BYU campus is like. It's really great, and Wed night institute is the biggest one. We have some investigators that we take to that and it's a really great class!

Thursday: There's an ultimate frisbee group comprised of several members, less actives, and non-members. Are we there? You betcha! Super fun, super hot, and great time to meet people who we can help come closer to Christ. The group is about 1/4 the size of the one we got going in my last ward, but don't worry, it'll be good :)
Friday: Our district is made up of all the missionaries in our YSA ward. It's interesting. I rode a bike through a rain storm and got soaked, but it was super fun, and I got to meet a couple of our super awesome investigators, Melane and Brook. They are probably some of the funniest people ever and have been learning about the church for a while. They both have baptism on their minds but have some family opposition, so we're trying to find the best way to help them. We decided to all fast together on Sunday for them, and they are doing so great. I'll tell you more about what happens this week!

Saturday: First home game of the season and boy was it insane. People here take football seriously. It's ingrained in the culture. The whole town shut down for the game. Aggies have a lot of traditions with that too. They don't have cheer-leaders, they have yell-leaders who campaign for that position. The whole student body learns these yells and stands through the entire game as the "12th man"... We set up a tent with a table with a big board we made for big events. It's has "Because of Him" in big letters accross the top and pictures of Jesus. It then says "What do you have because of Him?" and then you can write something on a notecard and pin it to the board. They used it for the first week of school and we had a table on campus, so we used it and offered free water to people headed to the game and had some good conversations with people!

Sunday: was even more intense in terms of talking to people. Sunday they had the MSC (Memorial Student Center) open house. For you BYU people out there, MSC=Wilk. The whole point was that any group, club, organization...anything could come and tell people about themselves during this time. Campus was packed! And there were a bajillion people walking around wanting to learn more about everything. So LDSSA (Latter-day Saint Student Association) had a booth in the religion room and we used the "Because of Him" board and all 3 sets of the missionaries and a bunch of ward members were there for  4 hours or so. We handed out schedules for the institute classes and pass-along cards and ran out of everything by the end of it. It was insane!! Sooo many people. We got some numbers out of it and hope to teach some of the people we talked to. There's so much to do here it's amazing.

I love this area, I love my companion, she's super sweet and great, I am happy to be a missionary! Anything exciting happening in your life? Thanks for the letters and updates!


Sister Andreason

P.S. I'm sure I missed something of all that happened this week, but it's been pretty busy. I'm exhausted in a good way.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Miracles and a Baptism

We had a lot of meetings this week which mostly consisted of really cool announcements of all the amazing new changes that are coming to our mission. We're focusing more on family history in anticipation of Ipads coming, we're starting mission president firesides... its just going to be good.

So about the amazing miracles that are happening in this area.. There's this girl named Jamie who we got to meet last Saturday. She has read the entire "Book of Mormon" and the "Doctrine of Salvation" so when we met with her she probably had more logical knowledge than I did. It was interesting because she was interested in learning, but was really hesitant about making any commitments. So we had a really interesting lesson at the temple and didn't really know where else to go with it because in order for the gospel to have a lasting effect in our lives we have to have a spiritual conversion, not just a logical one... so we didn't really know what further steps to take to help her to have a spiritual conversion. She went to church at another ward the next day and then Monday we got a call from her friend who introduced her to the church who asked for a lesson with her ASAP. So we met with her Monday evening and she was very different.

She sat down with us and told us that she wanted to be baptized. She had woken up crying that morning from relief. In a nutshell she had felt the power of the Atonement in her life and felt compelled to change. She said she wanted this to be a part of her life permanently. She's going to school in London in 2 weeks, but wants to have made that commitment and have the strength that comes by doing that before she goes back to school where there's lots of temptation. It's been really cool to see her new enthusiasm for it in so short a time.

Sister Nielsen, Dillon (Christina's exboyfriend who introduced her to the church) Christina, Derek, Me

Our other amazing experience this week was when Christina got baptized!! It was such a powerful baptism. I got to do a special musical number with a few other people. We sang "Nearer My God to Thee" and I played the piano while embellishing the music from the hymn book and singing the alto part. It was pretty sweet. But the most powerful part of the baptism was listening to Christina give her testimony. She has such a powerful witness of the truth that she knows. She lifts and encourages everyone around her and she is so excited to be moving forward in the gospel. She's very involved and already planning on serving a mission. I love her so much. She has been a great example of strength and faith to me.

How are y'all feeling about the work where you are? Who do you know that could use the phenomenal blessings of the gospel? What natural/comfortable steps can you take to invite them closer to Christ?

 I'd love to hear about your missionary work and experiences too! 

Love you all!

Sister Andreason