Monday, May 30, 2016

Week 48...Lasam Philippines

Guess what! I'm not transferring :D

This was a slow week, and a week full of anticipation, and uncertainty...cuz I was 100% sure that I was gonna transfer since I have been here for 5 months...BUT I'M NOT! The fact that I was anticipating makes it kind of an anticlimactic let down I guess, but  is not at all a actual let down because I love Lasam and I am extremely blessed to have the opportunity to be here for at least 6 more weeks. Also I will have the chance to harvest what I have planted meaning I will get to see the fruits of my labors baptized! We have at least 4 sure baptisms this June, and hopefully we will have lots and lots in July but the trick there is that we have to go find them first. But it is possible with the Lord and I am praying that we will find lots of people this week that we can prepare for baptism in July. 

 Me and Elder Roberto have decided we are gonna focus on and find part member families, college age students, and families who can afford to come to church.  That is also what President has advised us to do so we will see as it goes. One of the hard things here in the Philippines is that we can find lots of families to teach just about anywhere but they're mostly from the poorer farming class of people and no matter how much they love being taught or even tell us that they know our message is true, they just don't take our commitments seriously (meaning they don't read the BoM and Pray and about it) and they don't have the means to come to church. I have had my heart broken by more than a few of these kinds of families but as much as we love them and want them to accept the gospel, if they aren't keeping the commitments then we are actually wasting valuable time that we could be using to go and look for people who will accept and act on the message. It is a hard, sad and frustrating thing but it is the truth.

This week, since I thought I was transferring, we scheduled tons of dinner appointments haha so I could kind of say good bye to the members.  Haha they all kept asking me on Sunday if I was transferring and they refused to believe me when I kept telling them that I wouldn't be. HEHE thanks fo tha FUD!

I have been learning a lot these past 2 weeks. Cuz last Sunday I borrowed and Old Testament Seminary Student Manuel from the church and have been reading all sorts of amazing and enlightening stuff about Adam, Enoch, Noah, Melchizedek, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob/Israel, Joseph, Moses and the ever so forgetful children of Israel etc etc. I AM LEARNING A TON. And also I have been called to repentance through my studies of these great ancient prophets. I am learning a great deal about obedience, faith, covenants, sacrifice, and a lot about the beauty of symbolism, and about how the law of Moses and and how 'every whit points to the great eternal sacrifice of the Holy One of Israel' being Jesus Christ, and the tabernacle. I have literally been convinced that it would be better if we were still living The Law of Moses, with all its crazy weird and seemingly pointless laws, rituals and ordinances and practices. In reality, they were given a strict and preparatory law that was designed by the Lord to remind Ancient Israel of the Son of God who would come. And they were reminded almost every minute of every day with seemingly pointless rituals that were all actually calculating symbolically to remind them of Christ. The Law of Moses aka the preparatory gospel is actually way awesome and if it was followed a man/woman  would find himself very close to God. I think we would all benefit greatly from something like that, especially the silly Filipino's, or more especially...ME. But I am sure the Lord fulfilled it for a reason and He expects us to use our noggins instead here in these last days, which happens to be really hard. :(

My advice, the little things matter so much.  Every little choice we make in the course of one day is so important. That is the reason the Lord gave ancient Israel the Law of Moses, so that if followed and internalized, one could go through out a full day without forgetting Lord. Is that not what we covenanted to do when we were baptized, and the covenant that we remake every Sunday when we partake of the Sacrament? To take upon us the name of Christ, and ALWAYS REMEMBER Him, and keep His commandments which He has given us, so that the Spirit will ALWAYS be with us? The little things matter and we can't let little sins that seem harmless and innocent keep us from ALWAYS remembering the Lord, so we can have the Spirit to be with us ALWAYS.  So read the scriptures, pray always with real intent and with faith, go to church, don't listen to bad music, and say bad things, and every other little and seemingly harmless thing that we do in the course of a day. Fill your minds with good and uplifting thoughts, with light and truth, and focus on the Lord.  Do all you can to be the disciple of Christ that you have covenanted to be, and the Lord will carry us the rest of the way to His kingdom, by forgiving our sins and teaching us and making us more like Him day by day, because His grace is sufficient for us after all we can do. 

Sorry for the Shpeel but I know that it is a true shpeel. I love you all and pray for you. Thank you for your support and your prayers. Until next week,

-Elder Andersen

Monday, May 23, 2016

Week 47...Lasam Philippines


Good week. The rainy season is just starting this week so sleep is getting much better! We started off the week really strong and worked our tails off on Tuesday and Wednesday. Then the rain started on Thursday which made work a little slower. The rain is pretty nuts here. Really heavy and loud and literally it takes about 30 seconds from the time the rain starts until everything is flooded, but I love it because seriously summer time was a nightmare.

We had a baptism on Saturday! My home slice Carl Justin Bruce! He is awesome and he is the little brother of Angelo whom we baptized a few weeks ago. His older brother Noel baptized him. We got to have the baptism in the river right next to our house so that was awesome, but I wasn't baptizing so I didn't get to go in. :( It started raining right when we went outside to go to the river haha so everyone was slipping and falling in the mud.  I have seen a difference in Angelo and Justin since Angelo was baptized a few weeks ago. They have been less shy and more brave and they are participating more in their church classes. Plus after Justin was baptized he even bore a short quiet testimony and I was so proud of him. :,)

I want to share a cool experience that one of our recent converts from February, John Cloyd Ramos, after he was baptized by Elder Abonitalla.  He shared this with us the other day.

After he was confirmed a member of the Church he kept having daily experiences where he was being told and led by the Spirit. After he would come home from school he would usually go hang out with certain kids or go to the computer shop or whatever, but now he would come home from school and the Spirit would tell him to ditch his friends and just go straight home. Then he would get home and usually would do whatever, but then the Spirit would be like, "don't do that right now, go sit down and read the Book of Mormon." He would always follow the promptings. John Cloyd kept having experiences like this daily.  Then one night He was coming home but it was now after dark. The path to get to his house goes through the mountains and there are no lights and it is pitch black and there are tons of mean annoying filipino dogs. He prayed for help and he said that he started walking and the path became bright like a light was shining on it. He said there was no source of light anywhere. The path was just bright like there should have been street lights. He walked all the way home and the path never grew dark and not one dog came at barked at him or chased him. That in it self is also crazy cause I have walked that path like a gagillion times and there is ALWAYS dogs. When he got home he said he just prayed and prayed giving thanks to God. We are now teaching his younger brother John Mark who will be baptized in the next 3 weeks and also John Cloyd's cousin Angelo wanted to be taught.  Angelo is usually staying in Magapit so we gave home to the missionaries there and he has been going to church there. John Cloyd told us that as soon as he was taught by us he chucked his cigarettes and hasn't used them since. We hadn't even taught him all of lesson 1 yet haha.  Then John Cloyd told us that a few days back, Angelo was on the Cagayan River, and the wind was really strong and the water was crazy and he thought his boat would sink. He remembered the story that John Cloyd told him about how he prayed and the path lit up. So Angelo prayed that the wind would stop and that the water would calm...AND IT DID!! Isn't that crazy!? I couldn't help but think of when Jesus told the sea of Galilee to be still. Jesus lives and is still calming stormy waters in our day! The church is so true!

So those are some cool stories. We hopefully were gonna have a baptism this coming Saturday with our golden investigator/member referral but there was a misunderstanding with her mom about her getting baptized (cuz Catholics) but she said it would be fine and she just wanted a few more weeks to prepare, so we extended her baptismal date to June 11.  The work is going well, and this may or may not be my last week in Lasam :( I guess we will see.

I love you all and just remember the next time you whine about your trials, remember that you still haven't been tried as Abraham was.

So there is my random advice for you all. Seriously though cause most of us haven't and we will all have to be tried as he was one day so gear up!

-Elder Andersen

Sunday, May 15, 2016

week 46...Lasam Philippines

Buko is gud....

Good week really really good week.  So on Monday it was election day in the Philippines and we had a curfew of 3 o'clock p.m. hahahaah. Cuz election day is absolutely crazy and people revolt and protest and shoot guns.

Tuesday was amazing because I got to talk to my family! We woke up early on Tuesday morning and traveled for two hours to Aparri because Lasam has no skyping capabilities.  It was the best thing ever. We laughed and stuff and i told crazy stories about the Philippines and I  got to talk to my Bishop and my neighbor Will and I miss them a lot. I have an accent now apparently! That's lame I don't want to have an accent. They said I really pronounce the letter t and stuff. When I talk I think it is just normal but they all noticed an accent immediately even bishop ughh. HAHA  At the end of the skype, my fam ask me to give a closing prayer in Tagalog and I cried while praying and when the prayer was over my whole family was crying too! It was awesome and sad cause I realized how much I miss them. The whole time we were talking and laughing and then while I prayed I realized that I won't get to talk to them for 7 months :( I felt the Spirit and great gratitude toward my family for there love and prayers and faith on my behalf. 

AS far as the work goes, this week has been great. Me and Elder Roberto have been super diligent and super precise with our planning and we are really trying to focus on these people and their needs. We are setting goals every night and then giving our best effort the next day to achieve them.  Our success this week has not even come from our own efforts though. We have had some tender mercies from the Lord this week through member referrals. We had 5 investigators at church yesterday and 4 of them are from member referrals, and 3 of them we had only met the day before because members referred them to us while we visited them at there houses. All 3 of the referrals we got are from part member families. We went to teach the members and then when we got there, they were like " Hey teach my cousin, he said he wants to be Mormon." So awesome.  That is the most investigators I have ever had at church on one Sunday in my whole mission. We literally taught them the message of the Restoration and they came to church the next day. My favorite part about lesson one is when I get to say the First Vision. I always try to say it slow and real, and I try to look into the investigators eyes while reciting it and really bring the Spirit cuz the First Vision is so amazing. Sometimes you can almost see a light turn on in there eyes while they listen.

 We are really excited right now about what is happening in our work. I don't know if I will be here in Lasam next month, but there is gonna be a good number of baptisms next month here in Lasam. Elder Roberto is gonna have a lot of baptisms. It funny how the Lord just waits for you to start doing your part through planning and he just starts making things happen for your work. Give your best and the Lord will do the rest. This is His work after all, we are just helping. We need to do it His way. 

We have a baptism coming this Saturday, and then another baptism next Saturday. We are so stoked!

So I am also kinda sad right now because transfers is in 2 weeks and I am probably getting transferred because I have been here for almost 5 months. :( I really am gonna miss this people here in Lasam so much. Because after I leave Lasam, I probably won't see most, if not, all of these people again in this life. It breaks my heart.  But I still have at least 2 more weeks here so I am gonna give it my all to help and love these people as much as I can.

Sorry I am a week late but Happy Mothers day to all the Mothers and especially my Mom! And my Grandma's and Aunt's and all them etc etc. 

I love and miss you all and I am thankful for your prayers and faith and support. Thank you all so much!

-Elder Andersen


Found this masterpiece of art...

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Week 45...Lasam Philippines

The power of planning, oh and prayer, oh and God

 This was a very good and enlightening week.  Tuesday, we went to Laoag which is a 6 hour bus ride away. We arrived around the evening time and we went to the Mall they have and I bought some new ties and socks and we ate at Mang Inasal which is a Filipino fast food restaurant and its so so so so so good. The next day, on Wednesday, we had mission tour/zone conference with President Ardern who is the Area President here in the Philippines. It was an awesome and inspiring conference. The focus was mainly on teaching quality rather than quantity which happens to be a problem in this mission. President Ardern said that as a mission, we teach a relatively high number of lessons, but we lack in quality teaching, and teaching by the Spirit. There was a lot of kind improvement as well which general authorities happen to be very good at obviously because they chastise by the Spirit.  A big focus was on 'Teaching the Doctrine' and Elder Ardern emphasized that we are teaching doctrine, but not ALL of it. He suggested we go back to PMG and study the lessons so we can 'Teach the Doctrine' which allows us to teach with power, because the doctrine happens to be the true, and the Spirit testifies of truth which allows the investigators to be effected by the lessons. There was a lot of other things we learned but I could type about them all and I don't have all day soooooo...
Later that night we had to go home and take a van back to Cagayan or 'the boonies' which took about 4 hours because it was now the a.m. and there was no traffic, which led to more than a few of the Elders we traveled with throwing up and just about everyone else had a tickly stomach. So that was fun (not).

Another personal lesson I have learned this week is about the power of effective planning.  Elder Roberto and I have decided to focus on our daily planning. As missionaries, and especially in the Philippines, you come home every day and you're a dead beat, Which makes the scheduled nightly accounting and planning for the next day less than desirable to do, and also the updating of the area book.  Unfortunately these things are sometimes neglected in the mission field and it is also something that I haven't taken very seriously so far on my mission.  This make come as no surprise to my family and those who know me well because I can be a lazy butt sometimes. But this week, me and Elder Roberto decided to change that. As soon as we got home from mission tour we planned the crap out of our next day and set some crazy awesome goals for our KI's that would make us stretch big time.  Now we plan every night after work and every morning before work and we really focus on the lessons and people we teach in companionship study, and we have seen some major results and an increase in the Spirit.

I will give an experience. Thursday, we planned a training member lesson to go teach Sister Sunshine, who is a 16 year old member, the next day on Friday.  We prepared a specialized lesson that was about the Restoration of the Gospel and the need for missionary work, with the goal in mind that she would trust us with some referrals. The lesson went more than perfectly because we had planned by the Spirit, prayed and we listened to the promptings that would come from time to time. She ended up giving us a referral. It was one of her dear friends and classmates who had already been asking her questions about our church. The problem was that she lives in the outskirts of Lasam and we had never been to there and had no idea where to find her because in the Philippines there are no addresses. All we have to work with is names and the name of the barangay (or the town) they live in, meaning we have to ask for directions everywhere we go.  We had also decided to start focusing our finding in Centro to make the area easier for the future missionaries, and also so the area is less tiring to cover.  So it was going to be rather difficult to contact this referral because of how far she is and how long it might take us to actually find her house plus we have to hope and pray that she is there at the house when we go and also that there will be a man there so we can actually teach. But we promised Sister Sunshine that we would find her. We made plans later that night after work to contact her the following Friday, a week later. But I still felt a slight impression that we should contact her sooner.  The next morning, we got a text from one of our investigators that we planned to go and teach first thing in the morning. She said that they would no longer like to continue meeting with us (bummer dude :( ) But that made our schedule open up a bit. We still had planned to spend about 2 and a half hours to go street contacting after that. But before we went out to work, we sat down and reviewed our plans. The impression came again to me to go and forsake the plans to go finding in centro and to go find our referral in the super far away barangay.  I told Elder Roberto that we needed to go and that I knew it would be less than convenient but I had and impression. We decided to just go and planned to leave out the door at 8:30, go find and teach lesson 1 to our referral and return back to centro by 10:30 to our next scheduled appointment. All for our plans to work, it would have to take a miracle. Before we left I offered the prayer. I asked Father to provide us a way to get to Nabannagan (the place where she lives) in good time, and that we would be able to find our referrals house in good time, that she would be home, that there would be a man there so we would be able to teach, and that we would be able to return to centro in good time for our planned activities.  So we left. As soon as we walked outside, a cable car ( a motorcycle with a metal box attached on the back that you can sit in) pulled up and we told him where we needed to go and that was exactly where he was going. That was weird.  Then we told him that we never been there before and we told him who we were looking for. He said he was from that place but he was familiar with our referrals last name so he sorta knew the general area. When we got close he started flagging people down to ask for directions and he was going down alley ways and flipping u -turns and doing everything he could to locate our referral. It wasn't even 15 minutes before we had a house to go to. We gave the driver a nice tip and thanked him.  At this point both me and Elder Roberto were a little shocked at what was happening and Elder Roberto  was even gasping and grinning but I stayed quiet and I didn't look at him because I wanted to look like a boss missionary haha. So we approached the house and there was a teenage girl sitting in the shade in front of the house. We told her who we were looking for and she said, "That's me!" I heard Elder Roberto gasp again. I told her we were sent by her friend Sunshine, but also of God. She took us around the back and we met her father who was working on some sort of project in his yard. He was a nice man and was more than happy to let us teach his daughter. We told him we would teach her outside so he could see us. He and his daughter were the only ones at the house, the rest of the family had left early to go to centro.  We taught her the message of the Restoration and she was what we like to call a 'Golden Investigator.' She accepted our invitations to read the Book of Mormon and to pray about it and also she accepted a baptismal date. She didn't know if she would be able to come to church the next day but she said she would try.  After the lesson we met with her father again and he said he and the rest of his family would be willing to listen the next times we would come back. Soo we caught a ride back to centro and we arrived near the house of our next appointment at exactly 10:30. God granted every single thing I asked Him for. :O  All this started because we sat down on Thursday night and planned a member training lesson for Sister Sunshine. Miracles will happen in this work if we plan with the Spirit and stop being lazy butts. Lesson learned.  Oh, and also we were happy to see our new investigator at church sitting with Sister Sunshine the very next day. Wow.

That is just one of the miracles we have seen in our work this week as a result of being serious about planning.  My advice to all people everywhere, missionary or not, try sitting down at the end of your day with something to write with and something to write on and make plans and set goals for the coming day. Try starting with a prayer and ending with a prayer and ask God for the Spirit to guide your plans. I promise in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ that your improve and progress faster and daily in whatever endeavor you plan to take. Be it Work, Sports, School, Diet, Church callings or ANYTHING ELSE, you will see improvement and miracles in your every day life.  I do NOT promise that you will reach every single goal you set for that day, although it is possible. The purpose goals is to give us direction and make us stretch. Probably the bigger your goals are, the more you will stretch and accomplish, whether you reached that goal or not.  That is how it has been the past few days for me and Elder Roberto. We have been setting goals that make us stretch daily and we haven't reached all of them, but we have gotten close. Our work here in Lasam is improving drastically because of it.

That is this week.  I love you all. Happy Mothers day to all the Mothers out there and especially to my Mom! I know and feel the power of your prayers.

-Elder Andersen

Monday, May 2, 2016

Week 44...Lasam Philippines

I'm okay y'all

 Hey everyone. So sorry about last week for those of you who got worried about me.  I am fine. Last Monday night I was called by Sister Andrada who sorta chastised me because instead of telling her and president that I was sick first, I told all you guys on email haha. Which led to my dad calling the mission to see if I was okay, yet Sis didn't really know why I wouldn't be okay cause I didn't tell her cuz I was busy sleeping and resting hehe. Sorry about it. Plez fergiv.

But this week was good.  I played basketball on Tuesday morning so obviously I was feeling better. We had a baptism on Friday!! Bro. Angelo Bruce! We are gonna baptize his little bro in two weeks as well.  These two bros are awesome little dudes and they are really hard to teach because they are so shy and quite and you can barely get an answer out of them but we made it to baptism with one! So now we got to work hard on his little bro. Their whole fam is Mormon and their oldest brother is an RM and he is way active and is the Young Mens president so that is good. Their parents are still inactive, They are just nice little bukid farmers that live in a cubo hut and are shy and quiet just like their kids :)  they are awesome and we love them!

On Saturday, our Elders quorum president held his daughter's 18th bday party (which is a huge deal in the Philippines) and they 'killed their pig' so their was lots and lots of food. There is a photo down below of its head :)  Some of the people took knives and sliced off part of the roasted skin on that fat part of it's neck and started munching on that haha.  Then they had this long and boring Filipino 18th bday ceremony where there was something about 18 candles and 18 roses and it took for ever and all I wanted to do was eat the cake but we had to leave cuz we were already there for so long, so I didn't get cake :(

It is starting to cool down here a teeny tiny bit. It is still hot as though. The rainy season is supposed to start some time this month, and if not, in June. So I am really excited for it to cool down and get muddy again.  Yesterday when we were supposed to go to work, there was this super random lighting and rain storm that lasted like 25 minutes. The rain got way loud and heavy and the lighting and thunder was crazy loud and scary but then it was all the sudden sunny again and clear and super super hot.  So weird.  

I get to go to Laoag tomorrow and I am excited for that!  I get to eat out and go to the so called mall that they have and buy stuff and then we have mission tour, where we are being visited by President Ardern who is the Philippines area President. Exciting! Also I get to skype my fam next Monday! SO excited!

That is pretty much it this week.  I am trying to draw closer to my Savior and to Father through having more meaningful prayer. I have been a little casual with praying and stuff and my relationship with God and the Spirit is suffering a bit. The scriptures say to draw near unto God and He shall draw near unto you. So if you want more miracles, more blessings, more love, more Spirit, and more happiness and more God in your life, get on your knees and start talking to Him. Don't just zip through your prayer so you can go to sleep, or eat or study or whatever. Talk to Him. Tell Him what you feel, what you think, what you want, what you need. Then stop sometimes even while in the middle of the prayer and just listen, listen for promptings and for guidance and for feelings. The scriptures tell us that if we pray this way, the Spirit will guide our prayers and we will even pray for the right things.  I know this is true and it works. It is also hard and it takes energy and time, which is why Sometimes I just get lazy about it haha.

Love you all!
-Elder Andersen