Monday, November 24, 2014

A week to Remember/ Taylor & Kelly's Baptisms

The Gang: Elder Su/a, ME, Brooke, Sister McLean, Melane, Patrick, Michael, Elder Visser, Mason, Elder Neville, Elder Weaver, Preston

I keep forgetting to bring my journal to emailing which has all my stories in it, so I'm remembering based on my planner which provides minimal memory-jogging. But anyways, there were some pretty incredible things that happened this week. The past few weeks have been some of the best of my life and mission.

Kick-starting Brenham
So in case you didn't know, Brenham is where the Bluebell factory is located, haven't gotten to tour that yet, but I've been to the town a few times. It's also the site of another community college and we happen to have a couple sets of missionaries down there in our zone. President has this vision and fire of the potential of YSA wards. They really are the greatest place and there are so many people in that age range who are really seeking and prepared to receive the gospel and change because of it. So in order to proselyte on many of these campuses, you have to have a club for it. The church has one all set up, LDSSA, we just have to get it up and running on the campus and get people to get involved in it. We need at minimum 7 people. So we got permission to set up a board and talk to people in one of the buildings on that campus at specific hours, so we did that, and at President's suggestion, we went to help the other missionaries kick start the area. There were 8 missionaries talking to people for a couple hours while we were down there and we got 71 people to sign up as interested in joining the club that first day, and they've had a lot more success since then!!! Truly the Lord is in this work. It was so exciting to be out and talking to people, there's nothing quite like it. It was also rewarding to see the fire that came to the missionaries down there as they were successful in inviting and as they took on the challenge of making this work and following up with the huge amount of people we had.

The next day I went on exchanges to Caldwell which is an even tinier town than Brenham and way out in the boonies of Texas. For example, the sister drive a truck out there because many of the roads are dirt, all of them are one lane and their area covers an insane amount of just area with not many people, I can't remember the actual number... I also gathered eggs and fed goats while I was there, just to give you a picture. But I also learned a lot. It was very different from the Traditions YSA ward and being up by campus. The people there live very humbly and it was a wake-up call for me to realize how blessed I am in my life, but also for the area I'm in as well. It takes a really special person to work in an area like that and the sisters there are doing amazing work. I am really truly grateful for the miracles I get to be a part of here and for my area and companion and the members.... there is so, so much.

Zone Conference
So, this was amazing, as always. President is awesome and gets us all fired up. We're focusing a lot on mastering our teaching skills. Pres. Mortensen said, "There's a difference between learning and reading and Mastering. We need master the material." So we're really trying to master the lessons and be better teachers so we can be really prepared for the blessings the Lord will give us. It's our job to prepare as best we can to help those we teach really understand so they can make the correct decision. This time around we focused on the the Plan of Salvation and teaching it with clarity and power. I've been working a lot on my teaching now. It's changed how I do things and I'm having to break some of the habits I've had to develop new ones, but Sister McLean and I are excited to work together to perfect Master Teaching. As missionaries we also got a heads up about a campaign the church is launching. Remember the video "Because of Him" that came out at Easter? Yeah. There's another one. This is about Christmas!!! It's called "He is the Gift" #ShareTheGift. Get ready, it's coming out the 28th, and it's phenomenal. Discover the Gift. Embrace The Gift. Share the Gift. :D

Double Baptism!!
Kelly and Taylor got baptized on Saturday!!! Whoo!!! This is the first double baptism I've had where both of them have been people I've taught. Both of them are incredible people and it has been such a joy to interact with them and teach them. They have both been prepared in many ways and have come to where they are now because of the interactions they've had with members in the past and a simple invitation. Don't be afraid to invite!!! You never know what may happen. You succeed when you invite, regardless of their choice to accept. Miracles happen based on faith and your desire to share the joy you have found is definitely an act of faith. Miracles will follow your efforts as you seek the Lord's direction and ask to be an instrument in His hands to bring someone closer to Christ. I promise that as a representative of Jesus Christ, as His missionary. There is no greater joy.

Mission President's Fireside
This whole week has been amazing, but there were tons of miracles packed into this fireside Sunday night. We got a call Sunday right before church asking us to ask Brooke (who had been on the back up list of recent-convert speakers) if she would speak that evening because the other speaker got pneumonia. We felt bad asking on such short notice, but felt that she would be great, so we asked her and Melane to speak together and although they were a bit stressed (understandably so) they both accepted. The topic was how the gospel has blessed your life. There were several recent convert speakers, all of whom had been members no more than 2 months. It was incredible. But Brooke and Melane were my favorite. We practiced with them that afternoon and they just shared their stories. They're best friends so they both stood at the pulpit and spoke with one voice and told how they had both come to the church and their simultaneous, but unique journeys. They spoke and testified with confidence and power and I was so proud of them. They moved me to tears. I got to sit up there with them because all the missionaries sang in a choir and I was just full of joy and love at their accomplishment and growth and the Spirit they carried with them. There is nothing better than seeing an individual become better in the hand of the Lord. I am so blessed to have seen so many change so much. The fireside was powerful and Brooke's family came as well as Melane's sister-in-law. If for no other reason, I know they were supposed to speak for the people who came because they felt something. (not to mention the personal growth they had). Maddie, Melane's sis-in-law is now eager to learn more and we talked with her earlier today. What a miracle!!

I am full of thanksgiving. What a blessing to be here among so many wonderful people witnessing the hand of God work miracles among His children. What are the blessings in your life? How have you seen the hand of the Lord recently? Love you lots!! Happy Thanksgiving!!


Sister Andreason

Taylor and us at her baptism

Monday, November 17, 2014

Drive-through Safari and Melane's Baptism

Sorry guys this is gonna be short. I got to go to a drive-through Safari today #onlyintexas

This was the craziest coolest place ever. Texas has very few laws on exotic animals, so there were all kinds of animals out on this patch of land in middle-of-nowhere Franklin Texas. You go and pay and buy a big bucket of feed and they give you some plastic cups and then you drive into the animal enclosure and the animals come up to get food and stick their heads in the car windows. It's so cool! So we had goats and sheep and weird deer of several varieties, bison, water buffalo, camels, alpacas, ostriches.... all come up to the car and get food from us and follow our car around. Some of it was kinda scary, but they were all super nice animals, a little pushy, and it was super fun. Best P-day adventure yet. We went with some members in our ward and we all had a lot of fun.

This week has also been full of miracles. Melane got baptized this week too!! It was so great. She has such great faith and is so sensitive to the needs of others and caring. Her baptism was really powerful, as was her confirmation, and you can see a difference in her. There is confidence and clarity that has filled her since acting on her decision to be baptized. She bore her testimony on Sunday of the peace that she felt and Sister McLean and I were just so happy and proud :D

We also met this girl who grew up Atheist but who is so eager to learn the gospel. It's very different teaching her than most other people we teach who have such a strong Christian background already. She's such a little baby in the gospel and it's been an interesting challenge making things as simple as possible to help her understand. Life is good!! Love you all lots! Thanks for all the good you're doing!


Sister Andreason

Melane before her baptism

Monday, November 10, 2014

Blessed Beyond Anything! Whoo!

Jacob's Baptism. He is with his girlfriend Kayla who is now on a mission herself.

I am the most blessed among missionaries. I've been avoiding saying it because there's probably people that might disagree, but I believe it's true. I have a wonderful companion who works so well and hard and works well with me. I am in an OUTSTANDING ward with amazing people, activities and such and I get to associate with people who I hope to maintain friendships with throughout my life. The work is blowing up, and it's a huge responsibility, but I am grateful over and over again for the INCREDIBLE people we get to teach and work with who just seem to come out of no where. How did I get to be so lucky? Let's look at a few of the AMAZING things that are happening here.\

Jacob got baptized on Saturday. Through a series of miracles including meeting friends from a neighboring school in Louisiana at a airport in Germany, he met Kayla who introduced him to the church. Jacob sought us out once he came to A&M and kept learning more and he got baptized yesterday! Kayla is leaving on her mission in 2 days!! She spoke at his baptism and it was just the coolest thing. My favorite part of baptisms is actually on Sunday. The confirmation is powerful, and our Bishop set a precedent that those newly baptized bear their testimony after they're confirmed in Sacrament meeting. Jacob's testimony was rock-solid and powerful. He shared his story of coming to the church and his conviction of the Truth of the Book of Mormon and the church which espouses it with great confidence. I was blown away, and I'm surprised my heart didn't explode I was so happy.

Melane is all ready to be baptized this Saturday. She's been through a lot of family resistance which has been hard for her, but she told her mom she was being baptized and listening to her account of it to us was inspiring. She had grown in confidence, and she explained the truth she knew and understood really well to her mom. She had changed from the experience. Truly a testimony is to be found in the bearing of it. Confidence in the gospel comes as we stand up for it. That was the case with Jacob and Melane, and Lauren. If you're struggling with something, try testifying of it, you'll be surprised how much it can do.

Alex and Abby are phenomenal. We met Abby at a sorority food fiesta fajita fundraiser a couple weeks ago. (Tangent on sororities: they are not what you seen in movies. There are many here that are super great, not crazy, and provide fellowship and service opportunities to many people). Anyways, one of our other investigators was involved in this and invited us to get dinner there so we went and we talked to Abby in line and invited her to learn more and so 2 weeks later we were finally able to meet, and her friend Alex heard about us meeting and was really excited to come and learn more too! So we taught them both the Restoration and it was one of the coolest lessons I've ever been in. They took notes and asked really good questions like, "If I don't get the Holy Ghost till after I'm baptized how can I get an answer that the Book of Mormon is true through the Holy Ghost?" Wow. So we explained power and influence vs. Gift. It was amazing.

We have other investigators asking really deep questions and easily accepting all the implications of our concept of eternal progression and potential... We had dinner the other night with an amazing member who is working miracles through her diligent Visiting Teaching, and I haven't even told you about Tiffany, Taylor, and Kelly who are all planning on being baptized on the 22 of this month!! Can I get a hallelujah!? 

Also, Congrats to my wonderful brother Caleb going to Helsinki Finland on his mission!! We get to be missionaries together for a bit too! Whoo!

Love you lots!

Sister Andreason

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Most Important Thing (MIT)

So, in case you're wondering why I'm writing on Tuesday instead of Monday, it's because we got to have a member of the 70 come and tour our mission! Elder Corbridge and his wife came for a few days to help the mission. They did a fireside for new and returning members on Sunday night and then they had 2 zone conferences with half the mission in each of them yesterday and today. In case you're wondering if you've ever heard anything from a certain Elder Corbridge, you have! He spoke in the April Conference of this year and his talk was great! If you want to read it...
you can click on the link :)

He also wrote a really famous talk that circulates among missionaries, it's called The Fourth Missionary. I read it towards the beginning of my mission and it change my perspective drastically. It's a good thing to review often. It's also 24 pages... but it's phenomenal. If you have the time to read it I would encourage you to do so.

Since I've last written a lot of things have happened. I went to mission leadership council, Halloween was last week, we went to a fireside in Houston Sunday night, and we had specialized zone conference with Elder Corbridge yesterday.... lots of meetings and trips to Houston. I think after tomorrow I will have spent 15 hours riding in a car to or from Houston in a week and a half. Oof. But, on the bright side, they've all been excellent meetings, we just live in the boonies.

So, to sum up what I've learned in everything that's happened...

We spent all day Saturday trying to coordinate this trip to this fireside on Sunday, but we ended up getting 2 full cars to go down with a couple members, us, 2 recent converts, and 3 investigators! :D We had a fun road trip and we all learned lots from the meeting.

Elder Corbridge mostly talked about our focus and on doing the best things. He talked of the profound regret that will come looking back on our lives when we see the wasted opportunities and lost potential. It hit me pretty hard and made me want to really focus on the best things. He talked about the Most Important Thing (MIT) that we need to understand, and that others need to understand, and that is "Through Christ we can be redeemed from sin, endowed with power and have the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost, and eventually receive eternal life." I don't have my notes with me, so that's paraphrasing, but if you think about that statement as the 'why' as our destination, where we're going, and then you think about the 'how' or the route to get there (If you keep my commandments ye shall have my Spirit for example) then the conclusion of 'what' we do become pretty self explanatory. "I will keep the commandments so I can be forgiven, empowered and have eternal life." This works with any principle we teach, we first have to help others understand the MIT, the destination, the why.

Going along with that, in our leadership council we learned about helping our investigators understand revelation, and about being bold when inviting others to be baptized. As a STL I got the chance to go to that meeting and then teach the things we learned there to the rest of the missionaries in the zone. My companion and I practiced together and tried to demonstrate the power of that principle well. I thought we did a good job explaining it, and having practiced that in our area we had "moral authority" which means we were doing it, so people could believe us more.

I wish I had more time to write and send some pictures our our ward halloween party. We got to go for a bit because we had some investigators there and there were some great costumes, maybe I'll get to that next week. Everybody is doing well! We met some great new people last week. Jacob is getting baptized this Saturday! Life is good. I'd invite you to consider the things you spend your time on and where your focus is. Think of a lake vs a river. The latter has greater focus and because of that it leaves a much greater effect on the world than a lake does. What are the best things in our life? Are we focusing on what will make our life better? How can we help those around us do the same?

One of the things I saw emphasized over and over in both Sunday night and Monday was this, "The Lord expects you to make a difference. To be fruitful." One of the purposes of our life is gaining salvation, but another very important part of it is helping others do the same. Blessing lives. That was a huge reason why I came on a mission. How can you bless lives where you are?

Sorry my thoughts are so scattered today!


Sister Andreason