Monday, October 27, 2014

Anastasia's Baptism, Identity, Purpose and Gratitude

Howdy Y'all!

Anastasia got baptized yesterday!! It was a beautiful experience. The last baptism had a couple glitches, so sister McLean and I put together a comprehensive list of all the things that need to happen for a baptism here and what needs to be communicated, and then we were very clear with everyone involved and it turned out nicely! Hopefully the upcoming baptisms this month will be even better! I got to help sing in a musical number for the baptism, usually I'm the pianist, but we found a pianist and needed a singer so I jumped in and it wasn't too bad! It was a duet of Nearer My God to Thee and I sang alto. The spirit was so strong, and then we went directly from that to the font and the Spirit was almost tangible. 

Speaking of the spirit being strong...We got the privilege to go to the temple today!! What a blessing. Taylor (recent convert from Sam Houston) drove us down there early in the morning. I love the temple. It had been so long since I had been, yet I know I'm so blessed because most missionaries don't have the privilege of going that often. The temple is truly a place of peace and joy and revelation and there is a power that is felt there that continues with you even after you leave, especially when you get to take a family name like I got to this time! 

I went pondering on the importance of understanding our purpose and identity. We had recently discussed that principle in institute. When Jesus is teaching in the temple at the age of 12, he tells his mother, "wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?" In that short statement we can clearly see that Christ understands very clearly His identity and purpose. I think understanding ours gives us greater power and focus and enables us to bless many more lives. I think that as our investigators really understand those thing that they will begin seeking and recognizing answers much more and they will progress. 

We are children of God. He loves us and we have a work to do. We are not just here to piddle around, or even just to get back to God. If that was the case, why did we leave in the first place? We are here to gain experience and to learn and to be tested in a fashion that we could do no other way. This life is the time for men to prepare to meet God and by so doing become like Him. This is the day for us to help others in the same endeavor. Part of this life is to touch and bless the lives of others.

I am so grateful to be able to associate with so many wonderful people. I am glad to serve how I can to be able to bless the lives of those I get to teach and work with and meet in the wards here, but I am incredibly grateful for how my companion, investigators, and members teach me. I have learned so much on my mission thus far and I hope I can keep learning and growing and sharing.

November is coming (when did that happen! time flies) and something I did last year the whole month with my companion was take the time every day to write things we were grateful for, good thing that happened throughout the day, etc. We filled a 3x5 card every day of Nov, and although some days it was easier to think of good things than others, the exercise helped us to focus on the good and to practice gratitude. I would invite you to do the same thing this month and let me know how it changes you. Invite someone you know to do it with you. I promise you will see things in your days that you wouldn't have noticed before. You will see the blessings of the Lord, and you will increase in gratitude, and thus in happiness. I love you lots!!


Sister Andreason

Fun Photos from Fall in College Station, TX

This is a super cool way we find people to teach.  We have it set up on-campus at various club fairs. 

Preaching the Gospel to every creature :)

giant mango. i know they don't compete with the ones in Ecuador (shout out to Lars) but this one was pretty dang good. thanks to HEB

Patrick, one of our members took us to Shipwreck grill and we ate oysters (he made us) but they weren't too bad. Can't really say they're a favorite yet, but it was an experience

tandem bike! bucket list. check.

Monday, October 20, 2014

More Baptismal Dates

Man! It's been a busy week. I wouldn't want it any other way.

I've apparently got a reputation as someone who can play the piano, so I was asked to accompany a musical number and learn the song in a week. A little stressful, but we did it! We performed for ward conference and it went well! But let me back up and talk about some of the people we've seen this week.

We started teaching a girl named Kelly who has been coming to Institute for a while and we got to start teaching her this week! She's been going to the D&C class with a friend because it was the only one that fit in her schedule. She didn't grow up super religious so I thought it was interesting that she's starting with the "capstone" of our religion, but she loves learning there and she has really been prepared! We asked her about baptism and she said she's been thinking about it for a couple months now. Our bishop asks those who are just baptized to bear their testimony in sacrament meeting on the day of their confirmation. She was there when Tara bore her testimony and has been thinking about it since then! It is so important to just be aware of non-members when they come! Brother Garlick, one of our institute teachers has gone through all the nonmembers enrolled in institute and we've been reaching out to them as well.

I think I talked about Anastasia a while ago, she's read the whole Book of Mormon and feels good about it, but had some concerns about other things that were holding her back. Brother Garlick (he's so great) had the chance to talk to her and help her put her faith first and recognize that although she may have some concerns, they shouldn't be enough to keep her from what she knows is right. It will be easier to work through them once she is baptized as well. So after his great conversation with her we went in and sat with both of them and set a baptismal date for a week and a half later! So she's getting baptized on Friday! What a miracle!

Melane is best friends with Brooke who just got baptized last week. She's been learning and knows it's true, but has been experiencing a lot of family opposition which has been really difficult for her. We met with her again and talked a lot about the significance and blessings of baptism and over the course of several meetings helped her find the strength and faith to set a date for baptism and move forward. The next hurdle is communicating that to the resistant members of her family. She has great faith though, and it's growing. She is acting in faith and I know she will be helped and blessed.

We have seen amazing miracles with people accepting dates to be baptized, but it's a result of encouragement and correction from President about the importance of it and our decision to be bold and invite in faith. After considering that the most powerful messages we have to share are in the first 2 lessons, and after re-learning the principle and power of goal setting, Sister McLean and I decided  that we would extend dates to everyone no later than when we taught the Plan of Salvation, and look at the miracles!!

Other fun things this weekend... We had a ward temple trip and since Brooke was baptized and we made getting her a temple recommend a priority. So we got to make the trip down to Houston to go do baptisms with her for the first time. Since it was a large group we didn't do any baptisms, but we got to dress in white and help coordinate names and people and help out in that way! It was so great to be useful and still be able to be there with Brooke for such a special experience. We drove with her and Patrick to the temple and then got lunch at Steak n Shake on the way back! Apparently they have those in Texas, it's not just an Ohio thing.

I've also been thinking a lot about stewardship this week. I feel an incredible responsibility for the spiritual welfare and progression of all those that have been entrusted to us by the Lord for us to teach and help along the path back to God. It takes a lot of planning and organization and study and prayers and relying on the Spirit to help you know what to say and how to say it in every situation. I have also been thinking about the sister in my zone that I have a responsibility to help. I feel like I've been slacking a little bit in that regard and I'm resolving to do better to seek their welfare as well. 

What are some of your stewardships and how are you helping those around you? Something I have seen over and over again out here are people we are made aware of that are struggling that you never would have guessed. People who seem great, but who need a lot of love and help. We are often too quick to judge a situation, either "that person's kinda weird" or even "that person seems fine" Everyone is in need of help and love and we have a responsibility to get to know them and understand them better, especially if we have a stewardship responsibility.

Thanks for all you are doing! Thank you for your faith and prayers in my behalf and on behalf of the missionaries everywhere. 

Love you lots!!

Sister Andreason

Monday, October 13, 2014

Brooke's Baptism


Brooke and Melane at Brooke's Baptism
This has been a fantastic week. Brooke got baptized and about 20 of her family and friends came to the baptism. It was so wonderful to see her make that commitment that day. Baptisms are always spiritual highlights. I am grateful for all the preparation people put into making those successful, it takes some serious coordination

Another highlight of this week was specialized training/interviews with President Mortensen. This was the longest interview I've ever had because we did training in smaller groups of missionaries. It was nice to be able to talk a little bit more with President, he always gives great advice. One of his strengths is being able to look at a situation and see what is causing what and then fix the problem, not just the symptoms. That's something I realized recently--we live in a society that treats the symptoms most of the time, but if we really want to fix the issue we need to go to the root and fix the problem. If you're overwhelmed you need to plan and organized...etc.

As a STL I got to help teach part of the meeting on Chapter 8 of PMG (using time wisely/planning) Isn't it funny how when you get asked to speak on something in sacrament or teach a lesson its usually you who needs the lesson the most? I love a solid weekly planning, it makes life a whole lot easier, but sometimes we're so busy that we neglect to make time for it and we try to squeeze it in during other random hours. It doesn't really work. If it's important (which it is) then it needs to be a priority in our scheduling, and not just get the leftovers. So that's something Sister McLean and I have committed ourselves to do better this week. :)

Another amazing miracles is something that I've never had happen in my mission up till this point, but which is super amazing. I'm coining it: "progressing-investigator-present lessons" Jacob, one of our solid investigators heard we were teaching another Freshman in the Corps and was so eager to fellowship him and come to one of his lessons, so of course we said yes! What better way to strengthen your testimony than by bearing it? What better way to understand than by learning again and helping to teach? What better fellow-shipper than someone who's gone through the same process just weeks ago? It's the best. In addition to Jacob reaching out like that, Brooke and Melane have been reaching out to Taylor, another one of our investigators, and she's been helping them as well!! I guess Brooke is a member now, but Taylor and Melane come from very similar backgrounds and it's so great that they can help each other through any struggles :D I feel so blessed to be able to teach so many amazing people, and to have enough investigators who are similar enough that something like that can happen. So cool.

this is what is written on the arches to get out of the quad (where the Corps people live) it's pretty sweet

I went on exchanges this week which was great. I'm learning more and more what it means to minister, and its a skill I'm trying to develop. It's helping me be focused on the individual, not just with investigators, but also with all those around me.

Shout out to Hayley, an Aspen Grove friend who I got to see in College Station! Small world.

Hope y'all are doing great! Still want to hear what you learned at conference and an action plan, I'm working on one too.

 Love you lots!

Sister Andreason

Monday, October 6, 2014

A Showering of Blessings & Conference

This has been a busy, exciting week full of miracles and Conference was phenomenal!!

Fun things first: 

We played a glow-in-the-dark game of ultimate frisbee. Best thing of my life. Cool night air, a legit light-up disc, teams with different colored glow bracelets and the field outlined with glowsticks...hard to beat. It was also cool because most people got passed to--it's hard to judge who is who if you can't seen anything but a glowing bracelet. 

Also, I am the foosball champion. I have played all the missionaries, and many ward members on the foosball table in the institute building in the past few weeks when we have a spare minute. I don't know how I got so good because all I remember about foosball is Caleb beating everyone, me especially. But somehow I have beaten everyone I've played more than they've beaten me. I owe Caleb a match when I get back :P

This week we had MLC (mission leadership council) and I learned a lot. Good leaders start with the end in mind--so as I'm teaching and talking to people, to remember where I'm headed in the lesson, and in helping an individual progress towards baptism and to come closer to Christ. Vision is so important in being able to lift others higher and to move forward yourself. Understanding is so important. I can't count how many times I've said "If they only understood what we had to offer." If people really understood our message and the significance of it, is there any doubt in our minds what they would do? Understanding is one of my favorite subjects, so I enjoyed studying that more and teaching about it in zone meeting a few days later. 

If you want a list of scriptures about the importance of understanding, here it is: (what: Prov 4:7, Prov 9:10, Eph 1:18, Eph 4:18. why: Alma 13:23, D&C 20:68, Matt 13:19. how: Psalms 119:129-130, Nehemiah 8:8, Mosiah 2:9, 12:27, 2 Nephi 31:3, D&C 1:24, 3 Nephi 26:1) I don't expect y'all to read all of those, but they're really insightful if you want to learn more about understanding.

This week we also had the opportunity to teach Institute. Both the teachers were out of town for a conference, so we were asked to substitute. The topic was Matthew 26-28 which includes such things as The Sacrament, Garden of Gethsemane, Cross, and Resurrection... talk about a hefty topic. But it went really well! I learned so much from the student manual and it was a joy to take the time to study more about the Atonement of our Savior. 

One of my favorite parts of the lesson was studying the symbolism of the Garden of Gethsemane. Gethsemane, a garden of olive trees, means "oil press'. Olives are pressed to produce oil, and when Christ was there he was pressed with the weight of our sins, and produced blood from every pore. It is intriguing to look at the symbolism between olive oil and Christ's blood (The Atonement). What is olive oil used for? Things like food, anointing, fuel/light, lubricant (make it easier to move), ointment for healing.... the list could go on. What can we use Christ's blood, The Atonement for in our lives? Think about it.

This week we've also taught a lot of really solid new investigators, I'm excited to see what happens, and I have been inspired to be more lovingly bold as I teach them as a result of conference. We have Truth. Absolute Truth and you can know for yourself. That is one of the most profound messages ever. The implications if our message is True is astonishing. Wouldn't you want to find out? We have a lot of people we're teaching who are in that process of finding out. We have a lot of people who are finding answers but experiencing a lot of family opposition. I hope we can give them strength and conviction to press forward.

Something that we've really been pushing in the mission is the importance of family history work. We've been teaching that sooner in the lessons and it's had an amazing effect. Brooke, one of our investigators who is getting baptized on Saturday is incredible. She has gotten into that and is already finding names to take to the temple the week after she is baptized. We've taught several of our other investigators and the thing about family history is that it expands our vision. The cause is greater than just one individual. As our investigators come to understand that it's really powerful. As they come to understand that our ancestors are not far away and that they are working in our behalf, it is strengthening. I have such a testimony of the importance of temple and family work and the role it has hand-in-hand with missionary work.

Wow, I've written an essay and not even talked about Conference yet. I receive many answers and a lot of direction, both for myself and on behalf of my investigators. It was incredible to realize how specifically a lot of their concerns were answered if they were sincerely listening. One of them definitely was. Taylor, who we've taught a few times, came to the Saturday Afternoon session with questions in her heart, looking for God to lead her. We met with her afterwards and she bore powerful testimony to us of the peace, purpose, and direction she had found since meeting with us and especially in the past session of conference. She told us that she had felt led to this and that it was a clear answer to her prayers. She's already been sharing about the Book of Mormon with her somewhat skeptical family, and is moving forward. We set a baptismal date with her yesterday and I am just overwhelmed with gratitude to be here as a missionary. Sometimes it's hard to fathom the trust the Lord has in me and the many blessings I have been given. I feel privileged just to be able to associate with such incredible people. I'd love to hear more about what you learned from General Conference! 

Email me, write me (401 Anderson St. #1F. College Station, TX 77840) I know that we heard the words of prophets this weekend and as we take the time to really apply what we learned we will feel of Heaven's help and become better, happier people.

Love you all!

Sister Andreason