Tuesday, April 7, 2015

An Instrument in His Hands

This is officially my last email as a full-time missionary here in Houston Texas. It's hard to adequately sum up what I've learned and the knowledge I've gained and the experience my mission has been. This past year and a half is something I will cherish throughout the rest of my life. I have gained so many skills, seen so many miracles, and become a more capable instrument in the hands of the Lord as I have served here. I have grown to love the people here so much. I have gained an increased love for the Lord and a better understanding of His Atonement and how that works in my life and the lives of others. I love my Savior, he has helped me every step of the way and I know he will continue to do so. I love the Book of Mormon. It is the word of God and it is the tool in finding the Truth of the message we share. I am grateful for my understand in of the Plan of Salvation and the precious perspective it gives for why we do what we do. The whole purpose of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is to enable us to be perfected and to turn us to the One who can really change us. I loved listening to General Conference the past 2 days. What a blessing to hear from living prophets who are inspired of God to lead and direct us. What an opportunity to receive personal revelation and gain so many answers and so much direction.
As a missionary you're able to devote all of your time and attention to serving the Lord, coming home your time and attention of necessity has to be balanced between many things in just taking care of the necessary parts of life. One of my concerns was finding a way to keep the Spirit I feel here and the same purpose in helping others and being an instrument in the hands of the Lord. Many of the talks touched on a theme of reaching out to serve and lift those around us and the joy that we find when we do. So that's something I want to focus on at home is finding ways throughout the day and as part of what I do to lift and encourage those around me.
One of the things I have grown to know the most is the potential each of us have to do incredible amounts of good in the world as we seek to do so and as we turn to the Lord. A simple invitation, a friendly smile can go a long way, not to mention what can happen when people of that same mindset come together to make something happen. Lives will be touched and people will be brought closer to our Savior, Jesus Christ. One of the greatest joys in this life is to know you have been an instrument in the hands of the Lord, to know you have been on His errand, and to know that He has guided your footsteps. I have felt that while serving here, but I know that it is not limited to the missionaries to feel that way. There are miracles wrought by every-day people who seek to follow the Spirit and who are "quick to observe" and look for ways to bless the lives of others. Don't doubt your capacity to serve the Lord and bless His children, that is where you find the greatest joy. As Ammon puts it in Alma 26, "...behold, how many of them are brought to behold the marvelous light of God! And this is the blessing which hath been bestowed upon us, that we have been made instruments in the hands of God to bring about this great work... Therefore, let us glory, yea, we will glory in the Lord; yea, we will rejoice, for our joy is full; yea, we will praise our God forever. Behold, who can glory too much in the Lord? Yea, who can say too much of his great power, and of his mercy, and of his long-suffering towards the children of men? Behold, I say unto you, I cannot say the smallest part which I feel."

I am so grateful for the time I have had to serve a mission. I would recommend it to anyone. It's hard. But the difficulty brings you close to the Lord if you let it and the joys and blessings are worth every sacrifice. I love y'all! 

See you soon!! :D


Sister Andreason

Monday, March 30, 2015

Back on Campus!

This week was fantastic. We finally got LDSSA up and running on the North Harris Lonestar campus which means we got to be out there and invite people to come and attend! I love being on campus talking to people, it's invigorating and I didn't realize how much I missed it until I got to do it again for a couple days last week. It's the best. It doesn't quite beat A&M for the sheer number of people to talk to and the variety of ways to contact and just how big the campus is, but it's still great and I'm loving it! It's weird to think that over half of my mission has been working with the young adults and on college campuses, kinda unique. Besides just being on campus we also had our first LDSSA meeting, which is basically an institute class. We talked about the Plan of Salvation and had 3 members and 4 non-members there most of whom seemed pretty interested. Our Mission President is teaching the class this Wed and it should be awesome!

We also had one of the best missionary meetings I've ever been to this week. The missionary gurus from the head of the missionary department in Salt Lake came and talked to us and taught us a few things that I wish I had been implementing more throughout my entire mission. You live and learn, right? They talked a lot about planning (which I have definitely gained a testimony of) and how we begin teaching, but they put it in such a way that it made so much sense and I felt some urgency about it. I can't communicate everything in an email, but some highlights are: in order to find (D&C 35:12), teach (Matt 13:19,23), and work with members (D&C 88:81 change warn to warm) we need to plan effectively. If we're having trouble in any of these areas it's probably because we're not "studying it out" enough in our planning. Planning is a lot like a pilot taking off. You might know what you're doing and might have done this many times, but you still run through the whole checklist to make sure everything works the way it's supposed to. Also, as we teach we need to establish the right expectations with people. They need to know we're representatives of Jesus Christ and they need to feel it. They need to know it's important for us to meet with them frequently... I'm not doing this justice, but I learned a lot. Also, if the missionary lessons were to be described in one word (or two) each, it'd be Restoration=Revelation, Plan of Salvation=Atonement, and Gospel of Jesus Christ=The Way. It was a interesting way to look at the lessons we teach and where the focus is. The Restoration really is all about revelation. God speaks to man. He speaks to Prophets and He'll speak to you. The PoS is all about Christ's Atonement. Without it nothing else would be possible, and His sacrifice is truly infinite and affects all parts of the Plan. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is The Way. It is how we come to Christ it is the method by which we apply the Atonement, it is the process of becoming perfected.

One more thought. In the women's broadcast on Saturday the analogy was given of an empty can and a full can. Pressure is applied to both and the empty can is crushed while the full can withstands the pressure. I've been thinking a lot about what it means to be filled. I found a wonderful scripture talking about us being "vessels" 2 Tim 2:19-21 "...be a vessel unto honor, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work." We can be filled with honor, grace, power, light, truth, knowledge, glory, charity, love, joy, peace, the Spirit... but we have to seek it. 2 Nephi 2:26 talks about the Holy Messiah, "full of grace and truth" John 2 gives the miracle of water-wine. They had to fill the waterpots first. What do the waterpots symbolize? I'd love to hear your thoughts! What does being filled (with any of the afore mentioned good things) lead us to do? How are we filled?

Love you lots! This is my last full mission week, see y'all soon!!

Sister Andreason

Monday, March 23, 2015

Eternal Covenants, Callie & Sandra

Dear family and friends

So update on the Rodeo and why I couldn't write much last week. It was awesome. We just got a little taste of most of it, cause we couldn't stay too long and one of our group got a flat tire on the way there, but we got to walk around and experience it! Livestock, funnel cake and a bunch of other fried stuff, we didn't ride any rides but there was a giant carnival set up, pig races... it was very Texas. Our Bishop texted us while we were there and somehow he found out we were there and had us and the family we went with come to some of the events they were going to (they were much more organized and planned) so we got some good memories from it.

There were some really powerful moments this week teaching and contacting. What a privilege to be an instrument in the service of the Lord, no matter how I am used. We had a really powerful lesson with a recent convert who's struggling a little and it was amazing to testify so boldly to her of the reality of the Atonement of Jesus Christ to help her in every part of her life and of the very real blessings that come as we are consistent in the little things and as we make God our first priority. Scripture study and prayer are so important. That's what keeps us grounded and nourished and growing. Consistency in testimony is what brings true conversion.

We also were walking around a neighborhood talking to people and saw these 2 older ladies on a bench, a mother and daughter. The mother had just had open heart surgery last week and had walked out of the house for a minute. We just got to talk with them of Jesus Christ. They had such great faith and it was wonderful to talk with them. The daughter invited us to pray before we left and as I gave the prayer the words were not my own. The Lord spoke through me and I could feel of His love and care for these people. He feels the same love for each of us. I was so grateful to have the Lord use me for something as simple as a conversation and a prayer with these people. The things we do have more impact than we know.

A couple of the other highlights of the week were getting to attend the temple sealing of a convert I taught and who was baptized 10 months ago. That's right. She got special permission to get endowed and sealed before she was a member for a full year and I got to be there for it! I missed the endowment because of a sudden change in time, but I was there for the sealing and what a joyous occasion. The Spirit was there so strongly to testify of the eternal nature of the promises being made that day. What a happy, happy day. 

We also had the baptism of Callie this weekend and that was also an amazing day. Baptism as well is an eternal covenant. We make promises with God that will bless us through our life. Callie was found because a young women's leader saw she was turning 12 soon and could come to girls camp and knocked on her door and the Lord had prepared her family to come back to church. They are an amazing family and both sets of grandparents came for the baptism. One of the sweetest moments was hearing their sincere thanks and how much they had been praying for this. The Lord truly answers our prayers. He hears us and will answer in His own time. I am so grateful to have been a part of that.

I've also been thinking a lot about the significance of being filled as it talks about it in the scriptures. It often mentions people being filled with the Spirit, or glory, light, joy, love... if we are filled with goodness there is no room for the bad. It's important to be filling our lives and ourselves with goodness. Some cool references on fill/full. Alma 34:27 "..Let your hearts be full, drawn out in prayer unto him continually." Matt 5:6 "blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled." Alma 26:11 "...my joy is full, yea, my heart is brim with joy, and I will rejoice in my God." Just a few of the many. Food for thought.

I love y'all! Hope you have a wonderful week!


Sister Andreason

Monday, March 16, 2015


Sorry y'all, this is going to be really short. We're going to the Rodeo today and I'm pumped! :D We spent most of this week teaching Callie, our 11 yr old getting baptized this weekend! She is so great and so eager to follow the things she is learning. I am so impressed by her simple faith. We've been over there almost every day this week, what a miracle to get to teach her and help her family in the last few weeks we have here. I've been thinking a lot about faith this week. How we grow faith, what we can do through faith... Something that stuck out was that our faith grows through obedience that leads to consecration. Obedience and sacrifice lead us to consecration and a willingness to do all the Lord asks of us. As we come to know God better and as we trust him enough to be obedient we will be blessed to work many might miracles. Study faith in Preach My Gospel! There's lots to learn! 

Love y'all! Sorry it's so short this week.


Sister Andreason

Monday, March 9, 2015

Busy Week!

The beginning of this week seems like a long time ago, a lot's been happening. We've got some very exciting updates on the people I mentioned last week. Our 11 yr old investigator is getting baptized in a few weeks and she is so amazing. She has such great faith and is so sweet. It is a joy to teach her because she is so eager to learn and act! It's different teaching someone so young, they accept things more easily, their hearts are more open, and you have to teach more simply. It's a struggle for me sometimes, I've been so used to college kids with lots of questions, but the gospel really is simple and straightforward. We also got to teach the Hernandez family this week who showed up at church in a different ward last week and are eager to learn. We've had trouble getting back in contact with them recently, so keep them in your prayers, they are so great and it's the first family I've been able to really work with on my mission, I'm excited about it! :)

We also had MLC this week and we've been focusing a lot on Vision lately and unifying the mission and exercising faith in accomplishing what the Lord would have us do. I've been thinking a lot on what I need to change and work on personally so that I can do what the Lord needs done. I went on exchanges this week with a wonderful sister. She is so diligent and organized and inspired me to be better. I am grateful to serve with wonderful people who are eager to do the will of the Lord.

Another thing I'm really grateful for in this area is the opportunity to do so much more meaningful service. I really didn't get to do much of that in College Station because we didn't have time and we hadn't found as many opportunities. Here we have things 3x a week! Thursday we voluntereed at the arboretum and potted plants for a few hours. Thank goodness we got the inside job because it was quite chilly. But we also got to work with some amazing people not of our faith and I just loved getting to talk to them about their lives and their interests and passions. I have gained such a love for talking to people, it's invigorating! When I don't get to on days we're planning more and have just a few appointments, or when we don't get to spend much time finding I feel different. Talking to people makes me feel like a missionary, but it also just makes me happy! Every single person is a child of God and has infinite worth and I get the opportunity to meet so many of them who each have unique backgrounds and experiences and challenges and strengths.. I think that's something I need to keep up after the mission, I need people more than I thought I did. Sorry my time's run out, I wanted to share some insights about the sacrament I had sitting in church on Sunday. Go read the Bible Dictionary on Sacrifice, just the first little bit is so profound and there's so much to learn from all of it. But I looked at the 6 different parts of offering sacrifice in Old Testament times and thought about that in relation to the sacrament. Tell me what you think. Love you lots!


Sister Andreason

Monday, March 2, 2015

New Area Going Strong

Hey Y'all!

Life has been pretty good the past week. There's been a lot of changes, but I'm feeling the strength of the Lord and I know my capacity to remember things and learn people and places quickly has definitely been increased. I feel like I've been here several weeks already, even though it hasn't been a full week yet! I'm with Sister Combs, who is awesome. She's dedicated and fun and we came out together! We were roommates in the MTC. So since we both have 5 weeks left, we figured they're probably pulling Sisters out of this area (like they're doing with many areas just because we don't have the number of missionaries we used to. Our mission is losing a net 90 somethin' missionaries) So it makes for a very interesting transfer and we're trying to help all the work going on here transition smoothly to the elders who are staying in the area and yet still keep busy and effective up until we leave... it's a trick for sure. But we have seen incredible miracles here!!

First off, I'm in Cypress Creek, which is similar to my first area, Spring Branch, in that we have a really nice apartment because the rest of the area is a little ghetto, and it's not even that bad, there are many other areas in the mission that are much higher on the sketchy scale. We have a strong ward with many great people sharing the gospel and the work is just thriving! We got in with a part member family last week who decided they wanted to come back, and their 11 yr old daughter wants to be baptized. We didn't find her though, her beehive leader was looking at who should be coming to New Beginnings and decided to stop by and invited her and we have this miracle. You have more influence for good than you know!! So we're teaching her tonight and she came to church yesterday. 

We're working with a bunch of other people and some recent converts who have been through a lot in their life. I think the Lord needed to remind me of some lessons and help me meet more people in this area, I love it here already. We also had some Elders call us and tell us there's  a family that wants to become Mormon who walked into their ward today, but they're in our area...so we're seeing them today too. What incredible miracles! I've never gotten to really teach a family having been in YSA wards for the past year. I'm so excited for the things that are happening here.

And I didn't even mention how the campus work is going! 

So the day I got here I started calling around to everyone I knew and talking to some of the people that the Institute teachers had recommended down here. We're working on the Lonestar, North Harris Campus right now, and most of the people that go there are in the Sam Houston 1st Ward, which I served in several months ago! So I know many of those people already, and Frank, who is going to be our LDSSA president I know really well because I taught him all the new member lessons! So we've been working hard to get everything ready that he needs to meet with some other people today to get the club officially recognized by then end of the week so we can go recruit people to join it and come to Institute as soon as possible. That side of things have moved miraculously quickly as well. I am so happy my knowledge and connections could be put to such good use here.

It's weird being back in a family ward. Sacrament was louder, there's kids everywhere, there's other wards in our building... I didn't realize how used to the YSA I'd gotten :P the adjustment is good for me. Thanks for your love and prayers! I'm excited for the next 5 weeks and the miracles they will bring and for the chance I have to be serving here among such wonderful people as the Lord's missionary.

 I'm so excited for my brother Caleb to be joining the ranks today as Elder Andreason. 

Love y'all!

Sister Andreason

This is an older picture of me at Tiffany's Baptism

Monday, February 23, 2015

Power of Deliverance

Dear Family and Friends,

This week has been a little crazy, one of the craziest of my mission. I thought I knew what this transfer was bringing, my companion is going home, and I only have a transfer left (6 weeks), so naturally I thought I'd just stay in this area and finish it off. Wrong! President called us Friday night asking us if our area could sustain loosing both of us because I could be useful in helping another campus in Houston get off the ground. We have several campuses in the mission, many community colleges and things and this is the only one we can't proselyte on yet. 

So after lots of prayer and discussion we arrived at the decision that I should be transferred. It seemed a little sudden and drastic, but I feel a lot of peace with it. The Lord needs me somewhere else for 6 weeks, and though I don't know all the reasons why I am eager to find out. I feel like the Lord knew I needed a little more refining here at the end and things weren't hard enough to make me really turn to him as I ought to, so these last few weeks are going to help me learn how to really rely on the Atonement again. We got a new companion Saturday night and she's going to take it over with a new sister....so basically white-washing (2 new missionaries in an area together) thank goodness she's been here on exchanges a bunch before and is somewhat familiar with it, so the hand-off isn't completely cold. I'm excited for the new adventure of a new area!

We also got to go to the temple this week with a couple of our recent converts. We were able to work with them on Family History before hand and they both found many names and really caught the fire of the work and finding their ancestors. It was a wonderful thing to be a part of and so nice to be in the temple and find the peace that is there. I wish I had more to share, but it's really just been a whirlwind of change this week and a lot of adjusting and making sure the area is ready to go and everything is in order. I did have some cool insights in my studies today, and found some questions, so maybe y'all can help me answer them and add any insights you have :)

I was reading in Alma 4:13-14 Alma is sad because the people are again becoming wicked, it reads "Now this was a great cause for lamentations among the people, while others were abasing themselves, succoring those who stood in need of their succor, such as imparting their substance to the poor and the needy, feeding the hungry, and suffering all manner of afflictions, for Christ’s sake, who should come according to the spirit of prophecy; Looking forward to that day, thus retaining a remission of their sins; being filled with great joy because of the resurrection of the dead, according to the will and power and deliverance of Jesus Christ from the bands of death."

So while reading that I had a couple questions come to mind. What does it mean to do something for Christ's sake? How do we do that? Why do we do that?

Also, the importance of retaining a remission of our sins. Mosiah 4:12 talks about how we do that, and D&C 20:31-34 also talks about how salvation is not a one-time event. It is a process and requires that we are consistently and continually turning to the Lord and allowing Him into our lives. We need to continually avoid temptation and use the Atonement to help us transform into what Christ would have us be. Matt 5:48 "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." It's a journey and He'll be with us every step of the way. He's the one that has power to change us. He has power of deliverance. look for that phrase in Alma 7:13, Alma 15: 2-3 (vs 3, no deliverance), and Alma 9:28, 1 Nephi 1:20, and 2 Nephi 11:5. Food for thought. 

Tell me what you think.

 Love y'all bunches!! 

Sister Andreason

Monday, February 16, 2015

Visions, Goals, Plans

So we did some exciting things this week. We went church-tracting. You might be reading this thinkin I'm crazy, but it was actually President's idea and it turned out way better than I expected. In Alma 26:28-29 says,"And now, behold, we have come, and been forth amongst them; and we have been patient in our sufferings, and we have suffered every privation; yea, we have traveled from house to house, relying upon the mercies of the world—not upon the mercies of the world alone but upon the mercies of God.And we have entered into their houses and taught them, and we have taught them in their streets; yea, and we have taught them upon their hills; and we have also entered into their temples and their synagogues and taught them." So we've been going house to house, why not church to church? So we made a list of the churches in our area (a giant several pages long list by the way) and set out to go introduce ourselves and see if we could do any service for them. Everyone we talked to was super friendly and even if they didn't need service it was still really good for us to introduce ourselves to them. I think we'll have more success in giving service to some of the smaller churches rather than the mega ones, but it's been really great. Hopefully we can do a little more of that this week. We also went to the campus service fair looking for more opportunities to get involved which I think was a really good opportunity. Hopefully we can build some good relationships from that.

Also, at dinner a couple nights ago some members showed us a clip of these scripture videos made by church people and it's called Liken the Scriptures. It's pretty hysterical. We watched a clip from Jonah and the Great Fish and the premise is a parent telling their child a story from the scriptures to help them with some struggle in their life and then the story gets acted out. It's ridiculously cheesy and I love it. I don't know what it is, but I really enjoy terribly cheesy things. It was quality singing and pretty good dancing, but so overdone in such a funny way. I fully intend to buy some when I get home.

As far as more spiritual matters are concerned, we had an amazing Zone Conference this week where we learned more about and practice the "Gospel of Jesus Christ" lesson which talks about the principles of Faith, Repentance, Baptism, The Gift of the Holy Ghost, and Enduring to the End and how that process brings us closer to Christ. It was really good. One of my favorite parts though was President's explanation of Vision, Goals and Plans. He drew it on the board like a cake shape with Vision on the bottom, then Goal, then Plan. He helped us understand how that applied to God and us. God's Vision is Moses 1:39. To bring to pass the Immortality and Eternal Life of man. The Goal is that we return to Him, and the Plan is the Plan of Salvation. As missionaries we our vision is our purpose, to invite others to come unto Christ. So we need to set goals and make plans to accomplish that. Our purpose needs to be the foundation of all we do, we need to catch the vision. Goals are vital, they require personal introspection and change/repentance. Where there are no goals, there is no progression or refinement. There is no becoming. And becoming is the central purpose of our lives. We are to become like God.

We've had some other amazing miracles in the people we're teaching. We got to read 1 Nephi 13 with an investigator this week and her love for the Book of Mormon grew as we showed her the truth it taught and how it complimented and supported the Bible, and she is eager to learn more. The Book of Mormon is key. I think I've been understanding that more and more lately. We've been slowing down the lessons to make sure they're really grasping the significance of the Book of Mormon and that they're actually reading and praying about it before moving on to other lessons. We also had a former potential investigator text us asking if our church does baptism because he wants to be baptized. We're meeting with him on Wednesday and hopefully we can help him understand how amazing that decision can be. Love you all! Thanks for your ideas on A-frames and for your support and love.

All the best,

Sister Andreason

Monday, February 9, 2015

A-Frame Ideas?

To the wonderful people who read my letters,

This has been a great week. I got to do exchanges with the Bryan Sisters and be companions with Sister Hassell again for a day (we were previously companions in Magnolia) She's a great missionary and it was great to be together again and see how much we both have grown in a year. It doesn't seem like it's been that long, but I guess it has! We got to go and contact on Blinn College Campus which is a community college right down the road from A&M. We had institute class going on there that afternoon and so we got to talk to people all morning and invite them to it and it was great! We had 4 non-members in class that day and a lot of wonderful conversations and miracles.

We went contacting on campus a lot this week. Some days were beautiful and pretty warm, like 60s, almost 70s! But the day that we decided to do most of our outside campus work was the day where it was in the 40s and windy. Naturally. Despite the cold we had a lot of success and one of our ward members took pity on us and brought us hot chocolate. :D. We also got to pull out our new toy and use it for the first time! Our mission President invested in A-frames for all the campuses in the mission so that we can use it to more effectively contact. We've just been walking around talking to people up until this point and it was cool to see what we could do with the A-frame. Eventually We'll have some gospel art-work to put on it as well, but for now we just had white-boards that we put some information on. I'm excited to see what ideas we can come up with to utilize that tool better. Do y'all have any ideas? Is there anything that would make you want to stop and talk to missionaries that you saw on an A-frame? Or anything that would catch your interest more? Would simple information about activities be better and we could just talk to people who walked past? Food for thought. But seriously, I'd really appreciate feedback on that. We've been brainstorming for weeks.

This week has also been great because we've been able to teach so many recent converts the new member lessons. They love us and we love them and it's just a happy time. We had a really powerful lesson on the Gospel of Jesus Christ with Tiffany and I shared my paint-stained carpet/Atonement analogy. We really just talked together and bore testimony on the principles of the gospel. Tiffany is doing so much in living high standards despite opposition, it was so edifying to just sit and talk with her about how we come closer to Christ. One of my other favorite lessons this week was meeting with Laci. We sprayed her with a spiritual fire hose but she just soaked it up! We went over the Plan of Salvation, but we're teaching her in a little more unique way. She has a friend that's asking her questions, so we started teaching her how to teach and she's a boss. She's so good at it and taught us a fantastic Restoration lesson the first time. We talked about questions and the order of things and scriptures and pulled out PMG... It was great. And our PoS lesson was equally amazing. She is still just so eager to keep learning and open to the spirit. She is a joy to teach. (Also, she made a trip to Dallas and brought us back some Trader-Joe goodies :)

We had a couple more miracles in the form of new investigators. We hadn't found one yet on Saturday, so we decided to go see who we could talk to on campus and prayed to find who the Lord had prepared and we found someone! It's amazing how miracles happen and how prayers are answered. We had another amazing lesson with one of the Bryan Elder's investigators who came to church. They decided it would be better if we taught her, so we taught her the Restoration after church and set a baptismal date! She is just so incredibly prepared and seeking and sincere. The great promise of the scriptures is to those who seek. If you seek you will find. God wants you to succeed in righteous endeavors. He wants to guide you. I have seen that over and over again in the lives of those I've interacted with here on my mission.

I hope y'all are having a fantastic week as well! Really, I'd love feedback on the A-frame idea.

Love you lots!

Sister Andreason

Monday, February 2, 2015

Sarah's Baptism

Dear Family and Friends,

Sarah was baptized this week!! She was a pretty miraculous investigator. She came to church exactly a month ago yesterday for the first time because somebody invited her. She bore her testimony despite it being her first time at the church and then we got to talk to her afterwards. She has been to 20+ different churches looking for Truth. She came to FHE the day after her first time at church and then we met with her on Tuesday and 3 other times that week and she was just so eager to learn. She started reading the Book of Mormon from the first time we met and she hasn't stopped and she has been so consistent! That builds great faith. Despite the challenges she's had she got baptized on Saturday and again bore her testimony this Sunday as a member! I continue to be amazed by the miracles the Lord puts in my path so consistently, they never stop coming. I was so happy to be a part of her journey :)

The rest of this week was a little bit crazy. We had MLC (Mission Leadership Council) in Houston on Tuesday which usually consumes most of our day, and then we had Specialized Training and Interviews with President on Thursday plus another crazy event which took all day, and then we had Zone Meeting on Friday. We taught both the meetings on Thursday and Friday so there's been a little bit of stress and lots to do this week. MLC was really good. It's so inspiring to get to meet together with the other leaders in the mission and council together with our mission president about the issues of the mission and how we can help the missionaries in our various stewardships. It's probably my favorite meeting that I go to. I always get a little bit of a call to repentance by the Lord as I listen to the Spirit while I'm there, and I always leave wanting to be better and with ideas and goals of how to do so. We talked a lot about the importance of members in teaching. I shared some insights into the story of Ammon and the sheep in a previous email. Ammon is the shepherd (missionary) leading the sheep (others of God's children) to the water (Christ). Something interesting to note is that Ammon knows that the enemies are waiting by the water and so in an effort to help protect the sheep and help them get to the water, he has others encircle the sheep. So we talked a lot about how important it is to have members help us to encircle the sheep that we're bringing to the water. Let me ask you something: how many people does it take to encircle someone? More than 1 for sure! Probably at least 3, more would be preferable. Members are so key in helping investigators and new members fight temptation and the hard times that will come as they make their journey to the water.
Another thing we talked about was Family History, which is what I taught on in our meeting on Friday. (our Friday meeting is based off of the Tuesday meeting. We take what we've learned and re-teach it to our zones). I have gained such a testimony of the power of family history on my mission. We all have ancestors on the other side who are eager for our success and every. single. person we teach has ancestors who are waiting on them to complete their work. When investigators understand their privilege and responsibility to help their family in returning home to God, family history becomes motivating and encouraging! Their progress is no longer just about themselves, the cause is greater, and they are needed. It's such a wonderful thing. More people need to understand the importance of it :)

The third focus point was on overcoming fear. Our mission president shared a phenomenal talk by Elder Uchtdorf that was given to the mission presidents last year, and it's only available to mission presidents, so good luck finding it online, it's not there! I felt super privileged to get a copy, maybe I'll get y'all one at some point. Anyways, the point of the article was that we are disciples of Christ and we need to fear not. He told the story of Peter's transformation from before Christ and after Christ and how he went from denying Christ 3x to boldly proclaiming the Gospel. I am reminded again and again that this Gospel is all about becoming. We are to grow and change and become more like God as we do our best to follow Him each day. There's so much to learn still. Missions don't make you perfect (unfortunately) but I am grateful for how much my mission has taught me already and the knowledge I have of how to continue to move forward. I feel like I know my strengths and weaknesses better now, but I also know how to go about fixing them and how to work on things with the Lord. He is always willing to help us. Most of change is resisting it, once we finally decide to turn our will to Him we are transformed.
A Couple of funny stories before I end here. So Thursday was comprised of 2 meetings one at 8 and one at 1. Our zone was split in 1/2 so President could interview everyone. We are in charge of most of the training for several hours as Pres pulls people out one by one to interview them. So we did that. I was the first to be interviewed before teaching and I was made aware of a situation that required one of the sisters in our zone to be moved that day, so after interviews were done we drove way out to the Boonies to facilitate this ET (emergency transfer) and then because our van could fit a bed in it with the chairs folded down we drove a bed out to one of the areas where one of the sisters was going. As we were driving back we were super tired from the long day, it was late and we were 30 min from home, driving down this tiny 1 lane freeway and suddenly we come upon this giant house on wheels! It was being transported somewhere but it was going 30 mph in a 70 mph limit. 0.o So we got stuck behind it for a while and what can you do but laugh in those situations? Life is funny sometimes even when it's stressful. Keep on keepin on.

 Love you all!

Sister Andreason

Monday, January 26, 2015

Journaling and Campus Contacting

So this might not be exciting news to you, but it is to me. 

I finished my giant journal yesterday!! And what makes it even cooler is that I started writing in it on Jan 25 last year and finished it on Jan 25 this year. I've written every day. It's kind of weird that there's a book documenting an entire year of my life written by my own hand. It's been interesting to look back on when I was only 4 months out and how I thought then and to read different entries and see myself change, or see different success or struggles arise. I really have changed a lot since the start of my mission.

On another note, campus is back in full swing and I am a happy camper..well, missionary :P There are bunches of people and it feels good to be contacting! We've been trying to figure out a lot of new things this semester because all the family ward missionaries in the surrounding wards are joining us. It makes for a lot of coordination so we don't overwhelm campus and a lot of questions and practice so we and the other new missionaries can get comfortable and confident on campus. We've been trying to approach people under the umbrella of LDSSA (latter-day saint student association) the church's on-campus club. After a lot of confusion I think we have a better understanding of it and we can use it as a great tool to introduce people to the church and be on campus! :) 

We've done so many things this week. We've walked around and talked to people, set up an interactive board in the MSC, and I'm eager to try out our A-frames as a contacting method. I feel like a toddler with a new toy, and there's so many different ways to use the board and the A-frame and just to contact on campus in general! We have so much follow up to do right now it's great! And we already have 5 new investigators this week! 

I think the biggest event of the week was the MSC open house, which is a day for all the clubs on campus to set up a booth and tell people what they're all about. We set one up and talked to a lot of people. It was interesting because I'm the only missionary still here who was also in this area when we did this last year. This semester was definitely better! We focused more on individuals and inviting them to LDSSA and to learn about what we do in the church. We talked about the Book of Mormon and got a bunch of numbers for people who want to learn more instead of just handing out a million flyers for institute. I'm excited to see how the missionaries in the future keep making it better :)

We had a couple really good lessons this week too. We met with a girl named Hillary who we met on campus and she was really sweet. She asked the day before the lesson if she could bring a friend, and of course we said, Absolutely! These 2 reminded me a lot of 2 people we taught last semester where we met one on campus and they brought a friend and the friend ended up being the most interested and asking lots of amazing questions! Ellen came with a really old copy of the Book of Mormon that her dad had and we answered a bunch of questions and then taught the Restoration and they left eager to read it. I'm excited to see what happens with them :) 

There's lots of good things happening here, the occasional sad moment when an individual decides to stop learning more, or feels like they've found greater truth elsewhere and can't see the light and Truth that is found in the Book of Mormon and the restored gospel. But hey, it happens and no effort is wasted. We wouldn't have found Ellen if it weren't for the missionaries that visited her dad and left a Book of Mormon! 2 Cor 3:6-9 says, "I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth anything, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase. Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building." Keep laboring in the Lord's work, you never know what miracles you could help happen.

In our dinner appointment last night we were talking to this family (one of the few meals with families that we have in the YSA ward) and discussing how to best inspire others to do missionary work. The father mentioned that success is probably the most inspiring, and as others see the joy from missionary work, they want to be a part of it. So, my challenge to you is to pray for opportunities to share the Gospel this week and then use them when they come, and then to share your success in testimony meeting this Sunday (remembering that success=inviting see the end of chp 1 of PMG). I'm excited to hear about your experiences. 

Love you lots!

Sister Andreason

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Laci's Baptism!

Howdy y'all!

Laci was baptized this week!!! WHOOP!!! :D She is so great. 

The week before her baptism she had to drive to Dallas and then San Antonio and was on the road a lot and she just listened to the Book of Mormon the whole time and having set the goal, finished the Book of Mormon before her baptism. I was so impressed! It was so amazing to see her grow and the light in her increase. She is so spunky and full of life and happiness. I am excited for her future--it's very bright. 

Her baptism was also really great.  We had a bunch of non-members attend and it was really powerful. Also, Hallie, one of the phenomenal members in the ward went above and beyond any refreshments I have ever seen! I'll send you pictures when I can. It was astounding to say the least. But anyways, there's nothing better than being able to be with someone you have helped teach as they move forward in making covenants with their Father in Heaven. What a wonderful day.

This past week as we were waiting for school to start up again we did a lot of finding in the evenings, from 6-8 which is the best time to catch people at home and we have seen so many miracles!! The Lord keeps telling us, "Hey, this is a good idea! You should do it more often! Quit draggin' your feet!" The past few days as we've gone finding we've been invited into someone's home and had wonderful conversations with them about building faith in Christ. What a wonderful opportunity I have on my mission to visit with perfect strangers and testify of God's love and the Atonement. Most of the people we talked to had previous interaction with members or missionaries and were very eager and prepared to keep learning. No effort is wasted! :)

Today was super exciting though because school has started and campus is filled with people again!!! :D I have been so excited for today and the chance to start talking to people on campus again! We have all the other missionaries in the surrounding wards working with us on campus now as well, so this whole semester is going to be quite the adventure. We actually had a giant meeting on Wed coordinating how we were going to split up the areas of campus so we don't overwhelm the campus too much. I drew a map on one of the white boards in the institute and we divided everything up. I felt like I was leading a military operation of sorts. "Alright, you 2 go here, you go here and we'll flank 'em! Careful to stay under the radar!" :P we just don't want to draw too much attention to ourselves. We want to be a friendly addition to the campus and be courteous. 

Today we went on splits with the other sisters just to show them the ropes a little bit as it was their first time on campus and it's huge and highly populated and a little overwhelming at times. I remember my first day on campus was during lunch time at the MSC and there were so many people everywhere I didn't know what to do with myself. So it was a good opportunity to help them build confidence and get some ideas of talking to people and starting conversations and bringing up doctrine. I'm trying to be better at testifying immediately and inviting the Spirit as I talk to people and invite them to learn more, so they actually know what they are being invited to do. 

Texas has warmed up this past week and it's been a beautiful 70 degrees and just amazing. I am so grateful to be serving here and getting to do so much in this wonderful area. There are many miracles yet to come, and they're coming soon, I can feel it. Thank you for your prayers and faith on our behalf. 

Love you lots!!!

Sister Andreason

Monday, January 12, 2015

Real Intent, Is it Love?

So let me tell you about the hugest miracle of the week. 

This girl named Sarah was invited to church by some of the members she met last week. She came and bore her testimony the first Sunday she was here and stayed for break-the-fast and we talked and set up an appointment for Tues morning. We then talked to her at FHE the next night and she told us she wanted to convert. She's been to 20+ churches and really felt loved here and she had read the Res pamphlet we gave her and a few chapters from the BoM and they made sense. We then taught her Tues, Wed, and Sat, and she's just going great! We have a goal for baptism and she's just stellar. She has great faith and understanding and desires to do God's will.

We found a couple new investigators this week, one who is from China. I have a new found respect for Chinese missionaries, people from China are starting with very little understanding of even who God is and why it's important. It's a very different way of explaining things than I'm used to since we work mostly with people from strong Christian backgrounds already. It's kinda flipped my teaching on it's head and I'm learning to readjust and explain things differently. She's very eager to learn, we just have to teach really simply, both for doctrinal understanding, and language capabilities.

The elders have been sooo great to us this week. It's been cold and wet and we switch off on car/bike week to week. This was our week for the bikes, but the elders went on exchanges for a couple days and weren't using the car and let us have it for an extra couple days which was really nice in this weather. They also helped us practice better door approaches as we're trying to be better in our finding and it was super helpful, they're super great at those. They are seriously top-notch elders. Transfers were also this week, and one of them is leaving :( but such is life. I wonder who will be coming up here? I also found out that I am not moving areas, which will make this area the longest area I've ever been in by far! I've never been anywhere longer than 3 transfers (4 1/2 months) and at the end of this I'll have been here 6, but since Sis Flanery is going home, I'm 99% sure I'm staying for 7 1/2 months total. It'll be a blast!! Good thing I love it up here :D

I've also been thinking a lot about Charity and pure motivation this week... well for a while, but I got a lot of answers to those thoughts this week. Sacrament meeting we had a fantastic talk about being motivated by love and asking why we do the things we do, and then we watched the young adult broadcast devotional with some investigators and recent converts and I learned a lot from that too!! Go watch it if you have a chance!! It's so good. "Living life with purpose--the importance of real intent" https://www.lds.org/broadcasts/watch/ww-devotionals/2015/01?lang=eng

Anyways, I'm running out of time. But, the take home lesson is the reason why you do something is important. Don't expect to find what you're not seeking. Keep the right focus. Sorry I didn't have time to elaborate on all my thoughts there. If you've ever done yoga, you'll know what I mean when I say small adjustments can make a huge difference. Sometimes you just need to tweak it. Sometimes the poses are easier when you're doing it the right way and just a slight tweak changes the whole thing so that you're actually getting the benefits of the pose. There's a gospel principle in that. 

I've been trying to figure out what the Lord needs me to do, but also do it for the right reasons. I feel like a lot of what I do right now is motivated out of duty--which is not necessarily a bad motivation, but it's not the best either. You get exhausted, and the work doesn't change you or the people you're working with nearly as much as when you do it out of love. Love for the Lord and your fellow man. Sometimes all you need is a little tweaking and you get vastly greater benefits from what you're doing. So I'm trying to focus more on love this week, to really reflect on why I'm doing things and to keep my purpose at the forefront of my mind. I challenge you to do the same. 

Love y'all!!

Sister Andreason

Fasting and Funnies

Happy New Year to all!

This week has been great. We've done a lot of finding and following up with people on ward lists to see if they exist or not. I went tracting New Years Eve and we met this amazing couple. We knocked on the door and this little man comes to the door. We told him we were missionaries and he just starts preachin' to us in this booming voice "Christ-ian-ity..." Turns out he's 89 and retired, but he was the epitome of old southern black preacher, in a good way. :) After chatting on the door step for a few minutes we got invited inside and he turned the TV from football to TBN (trinity broadcasting network) and started talking to us about various preachers and Billy Graham (super famous preacher). He quoted scripture and at some point in the conversation we quoted the entirety of Psalms 23 together back and forth with each of us taking a line--so fun. We also got to share 2 Nephi 25:26 and Alma 26:11-13 and talk a little about the Book of Mormon with him and he was excited to read it. After talking for a while we got up to go and said goodbye to him. His wife up to this point was a disembodied voice somewhere near the back of the house, but I wanted to go meet her. After taking a few steps into the kitchen I saw her, this little old women sitting in a chair by the stove with the oven door open and all the burners on the stove and the oven turned on to full blast. Guess she musta been cold. She was super sweet and we stayed hearing about their family for another half hour before we left (married for 52 years with 34 great-grandchildren). I love crazy experiences like that :)

I've got a couple other funny stories this week. 

I went on exchanges to Brenham this week. That's where the Bluebell factory is...someday we'll make it on a tour there, free ice cream is kind of important, but anyways, we were in a tiny little town and super spread out area. While finding we ran into a pagan which was new. I've never met anyone who claimed to be pagan, we also met someone who was interested in reading the Book of Mormon but who didn't believe in prayer, highly unusual. I think the funniest part was tracking down a referral we got 20 miles away and driving across this guys field to the address only to find a grumpy old man. It was pretty funny cause it had rained recently and we were in a little chevy cruze (everyone else in their district has a truck). We made it okay and gained some evidence for our case of getting a truck over there :P

We had MLC this week and I'll tell you more of the spiritual stuff in a minute, but while we were down there we stopped by the mission office for supplies. We had to leave earlier because, as President put it, we're "distance challenged missionaries" and we had a long drive ahead of us. So we got to the office earlier than most. Now earlier this week we had been debating what to do with this Taylor Lautner cardboard cut-out the elders found in their apartment. So, of course after much deliberation we decided to try to stick it in President's office. Somehow it worked out that we got the keys and the elders snuck it in there and it put it in President's chair at his desk. We haven't heard back about what happened, but just imagining what his reaction was is pretty funny, and we needed to get rid of it anyways :P I'll send a picture later.

The spiritual part of MLC this week was also so great. We talked a lot about finding and fasting, and I think we taught it well at Zone meeting a few days later. President came to our zone meeting which was slightly stressful, but really good too. I wanted to share some of the insights we gained from Isaiah 58 which is all about the blessings of Fasting and the Sabbath day. We're going to be looking at 58:5-12

Is it such fast that have chosen? day for man to afflict his soul? is it to bow down his head as bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? wilt thou call this fast, and an acceptable day to the Lord?
So the Lord asks, "Do you think this is what I had in mind? Do you think fasting is supposed to afflict your soul? Let me tell you what it's actually meant to do..."
Also, think about it in relation to not just yourself, but others whom you love.
 Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go freeand that ye break every yoke?
What an amazing gift. You mean, we can loose bands of wickedness and free those who are bound as we fast in faith?!
 Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungryand that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked,that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?
 ¶Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, anthine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; thglory of the Lord shall be thy rearward.
Look at the pronouns, thy light shall break forth.
 Then shalt thou calland the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry,and he shall say, Here am. If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity;
Thou shalt call and the Lord shall answer. What greater promise can you have!?
 10 And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungryand satisfy the afflicted soul; then shalthy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday:
 11 And the Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in droughtand make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like watered garden, and like spring of water, whose waters fail not.
 12 And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places:thou shalt raise up thfoundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in.
Raising up the foundations of many generations. What an interesting promise. It's applicable in so many ways, as a missionary, parent, friend. Your influence as you fast affects so many.
The repairer of the the breach. Isn't that what Christ did? He brought us back to God? Isn't that what covenants do? They bind us to God. As we fast we can restore our brothers and sisters to covenants that will bring them such great joy and repair the breach.
I'd love to hear what other insights you have about this chapter, I just shared a few :)
I send my love to all. Behold, I am Sister Andreason, your missionary. And thus ended the 2014th year in the city of Houston TX in the land of America. And thus I close mine epistle.