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"

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.