Monday, December 20, 2010

Hey Family! OK well Mom, since you're freaking out about the whole calling situation here it is: I will just call you guys on Christmas here, which will be Christmas Eve for you guys, and then once I call you, just call me back on the number I called you on cause it's much cheaper for me to receive calls. It's pretty easy haha. So don't worry anymore about that, it'll work out. Hmm so what has happened this week... I feel like during the week I always have things I should write about, then Monday comes and I got nothin. Well lets see, La Castellana had their opening lights ceremony this week, I was actually really impressed. I mean it wasn't quite as extravagant as the Temple Square lights, but it was good. They even had fireworks and stuff. Next week is the fiesta here which will be pretty exciting. I met some crazy people this week (I can't tell you how many of those I meet) but these two are funny stories so I'll tell you about them. OK so the first was this crazy old American guy, and the first thing he said to us when he came out of his house was, "You guys believe in bull sh$# and I know that." Needless to say I was a little speechless and wasn't quite sure to say back. The old man continued, "I'm an atheist, and I don't believe in your Gods because you don't believe in my Gods, and the sooner you understand that you will know the truth." Hahaha. Yikes. I was just trying not to laugh, cause E. Ventigan was trying to talk to him in English, and kept asking him like what his religion was and the man would say atheist, and then go on about the Egyptians and their Gods, and then E. Ventigan would ask him a question about his "religion" because he didn't know what an atheist is haha. So I told him in Illongo, and then he was like ohhhh ok. Well thank you brother, have a good day. Ha and then we left. The next was just this guy that came up to us in the street one night and he started talking to us, but it didn't make sense. Especially since he was talking to me in English, Spanish, and Illongo. But he kept rambling about Moroni and Joseph Smith and UFO's and all this crazy stuff. Then he told me we were brothers because he has American blood. Finally we got him to leave, but before he did he grabbed my hand, put his hand on my shoulder and said, "Remember this day that we are brothers in the Lord! Farewell my friend!" Ha so that was that. Other than that things have been good. We've been trying to find new investigators that are really prepared. We found this 100 year old lady, she's way funny and she's still way strong, and she loves to listen and talk to us, last time we went to her she tried to pay us haha. So we invited her to church and she said she would go, but then she wasn't there, so we went to her house, and she saw us and then got way sad and was like I'm sorry I forgot to go to church elders! Haha she is just so innocent. I wonder what the record is for the oldest person ever baptized is.. Ha anyway, so the work has been good. Just tryin to always do better and enjoy life. So Merry Christmas to you all! Thanks for all you do for me! Love you all! Love, Elder Andersen

Oh I forgot to tell you, I went to Bacolod this week cause E. Ventigan had a meeting. Anyway, while I was in the office just hangin out I saw that they had a scale so I weighed myself. I now weigh 160 pounds! That means I've gained 15 pounds since I've been here! Holy Man! haha. It's ok I'm not fat! I just now have some meat on my bones, and am thicker and don't get pushed around as easy haha. Our branch presidents wife told me I'm more handsome now that I've gained weight haha, but I don't believe her. It's best not to believe anything they tell you about stuff like that, because they will all tell you different things. Ok well thats all. TTFN

To Andrea:Hey sis! Just thought I'd let you know I got your package today! Thanks so much! It was great, I really appreciated it, and will continue to appreciate it until it is all used! It was actually a big surprise, we were all just sitting there as the zone leaders got the cargo and giving everyone their stuff, and I wasn't expecting anything cause mom said my package wouldn't get here until after Christmas, but then the said Andersen you have a package. It was pretty exciting! I will be sure to put everything to good use! So yeah just wanted to say thanks, and Merry Christmas! Hope you all have a good time together and stuff at home. I'm sure I'll talk to you. Maybe. haha. What do you think Mom would do if I just didn't call? Ok well thanks again, love you all! -Greg or Elder Andersen

Monday, December 13, 2010

So hello fam! Things are just great. This week has been... Rainy! All day everyday! I think there's a typhoon down yonder in Mindanao somewhere, so we're getting a bunch of rain from it. Hopefully the sun'll come out this week, cause my clothes don't dry very well in the rain! haha. Also it makes it a little harder to try and find people cause no one is out and about. So like I said things have been going well. La Castellana has been super busy lately cause they have a big Christmas and New Years parade and fiesta here that lasts a whole week that they are preparing for. So that'll be fun to see. We had a baptism Saturday, sister Kaye. She's 16 and the niece of the Villanueva family. Her older sister will be getting baptized next month too. We love baptizing women, but we really need men! haha. So we're trying to work ont that, and just really try to help the people here. Reactivating families and what not. You know, missionary work :) I can't really think of anything else super cool that happened this week that I should write about... Well hey I suppose I otta say Happy Birthday to Tatay! So, Happy Birthday Dad! Mm I don't know what else to write about! I'm learning new things everyday, and just trying to make myself a better missonary! So really thats what I've been doin this week, A lot of walking, talking, preaching and speaking! And eating and reading and pleading! Also I think I'm getting fat cause 2 pairs of my pants do not fit so well... But the other 2 fit perfectly fine, so maybe they just shrunk? Not sure. We watched the First Presidency Christmas devotional last night. It was really good. President Uchtdorf looks older now. I guess thats what happens when you are one of the main leaders of the Church! Anyway, it was really good. I got a little feeling of the Christmas's I am used to. Ok well I guess that is all for me this week. So to all, have a great week! Love Elder Andersen

Monday, December 6, 2010

Well hello again! I guess my biggest news for this week is that I'm stayin in La Castellana for another 6 weeks! Ha so that'll be fun. I'm just going to really know my area well. And I'll have the same companion, Elder Ventigan again. Other than that things have been going well. We had a district specialized training meeting given to us by the A.P.'s and President Tobias this week, and it was really good. It really makes you realize what you need to do specifically in your individual areas and it's straight revelation from President. So this week we've just been trying to implement the things we learned there into our trainings. And I'm trying to talk more to people and teach more in the lessons so that I can prepare myself for when I am made senior companion in probably 1 or 2 more transfers. maybe 3. or 4. It just depends on President Tobias, and how ready I am. But I feel ready, except for the language. So that is going to be my main focus for this next transfer. I'm having a hard time trying to feel the Christmas spirit here haha, because it still feels like summer vacation. But I guess Christmas is pretty soon huh? I'm excited for the branch party. Mostly for the food haha, I love food! Anywho, everything is going well. The Branch President of La Castellana, President Oliverio, was chosen by the Church to represent the Philippines for the new Duty to God program. So this last week he had an interview. With Boyd K. Packer! They did it over webcam, and it was 2 a.m. for President Packer! President Oliverio said it was quite an experience getting interviewed by the President of the Quorum of the 12! And it made me realize how much they do for the Church. I mean how old is President Packer? Mid 80's? And here he is staying up through the night interviewing some Branch President from a small branch in the Philippines! All I can say is that is dedication. And it makes me want to try harder. Anywho, thats about it for me for the week. Ha don't worry about your packages not being here for Christmas it's really not a big deal! I'm just grateful to even get anything :) So thanks ya sa tanan for all you do and your prayers and everything! So until next time, Halong. Love, Elder Andersen

Monday, November 29, 2010

Hello Family! Well I can't believe it's transfer announcements again next week! This transfer has gone by really fast. I'm not sure whether I'll get transferred or stay in La Castellana again, but I'll be happy either way. Although I would like to see some new stuff. This week definitely didn't feel like thanksgiving to me, but thats ok. Everyone is all excited about Christmas here, but it's hard for me to feel the Christmas spirit when it's 90 degrees or so with probably 98% humidity haha. Mainit gid! This week has been good though. We've just continued working hard, and always are trying to find the elect. And not just elect. We're trying to find people that are going to build the Church, because thats what the Church needs here. We're especially focusing on finding men, because while baptizing women is great and adds to the number of members, they are not going to build the Church. We need future priesthood leaders. So that is always going to be one of our main focuses. So the work is going well as usual. We have 2 more baptisms on December 11, and then 2 more scheduled for January 1st. And hopefully that number just continues to grow. If I get transferred, transfer day is December 10, so I will miss them all, but thats ok. Also if I get transferred I'll be spending my Christmas in a new area! So thats kind of exciting. You all sound like you are doing well, and are happy. Cold, but happy. I wouldn't mind a little bit of cold right now, maybe just 10 degrees cooler ha. So Rachel has found a new love huh? Well tell her she does not have permission to marry him until I get home and approve him myself. So I met an American this week! It was really weird speaking full out English, and not just the simple English I've been using for the past 4 months. He was a really nice guy, he's married to a Filipino lady, and she is originally from La Castellana. They are just staying till February. Apparently she used to work for the former Canadian prime minister or whatever who was a Filipino. Anyway we had a really good conversation about religion and our church and everything. Haha E. Ventigan was a little lost, so he got to see what it's like in my shoes! But yeah he was very appreciative of our church and all our standards and all the work we do and especially missionaries how they give up 2 years of their life to serve God and what not. He said he knew a few Mormons and they were all good people, and he said he is aware of how much the Church does for people. Also he said he even believed that God could have appeared to Joseph Smith! I invited him to listen to our message but he didn't want to. He is one of those people that doesn't believe we need religion to be saved.. A really good guy, just a little confused. I asked him if I gave him something if he would read it, and he said he'd read anything in English, sadly I didn't have an English Book of Mormon with me, so I gave him a pamphlet about the Plan of Salvation. And if I ever see him again I'll give him an English Book of Mormon. So anyway, that was my week! I'm attaching some pictures I took this week of some of the stuff I saw. I'll explain more about them in the next email. I have to send 2 for all the pictures to fit.

OK so I will explain about the pictures a little bit.. Sorry 2 of them are basically the same, I didn't mean to do that. Anyway the landscape ones are just of a little bit of what it looks like here in La Castellana. The one is with a karabaw pulling a cart of sugar cane. Thats basically mostly what they grow in this region. There are so many sugar cane fields. And the sugar cane is really tall. Anywhere from 10 to 14 feet high. And it tastes good too! The big volcano in the background is Mount Kanla-on. And it is huge! I'm not sure how big, but you can see it from miles away. Unless its rainy. Somedays it looks like it doesn't even exist. It's amazing. Very gorgeous here. The ones with the pig are just that. The Villanueva family made Lechon baboy to sell because brother Noel is in the meat business. So what they do is just kill a pig, empty out it's organs and stuff, stuff it with spices and whatever, put it on a big bamboo stick and roast it on a fire. And it is especially delicious! It was my "Thanksgiving Feast" haha. So yeah, that's just a little glimpse of what I get to see everyday. So thats all for me for this week, Thank you all for your prayers, emails, and everything. Love, Elder Andersen

Monday, November 22, 2010

Well hello family! I guess first off I should say Happy Birthday to Rachel today! and to Mom on Saturday! And Happy Thanksgiving! Wow I can't believe it's Thanksgiving already! Definitely doesn't feel like it here. Time continues to go fast. This week has been more successful than the past couple, as far as teaching lessons and having new investigators. And we had baptisms this week! Sister Jona and Brother Noel. I can honestly say, I have never seen anyone so ready to be baptized and confirmed as sister Johna, and I'm pretty sure I won't see many more like that throughout my whole mission. Don't get me wrong, her husband Noel was very ready to, but wow. Johna just blows you out of the water with her spirituality. But it's so great to have the whole family baptized now! And I had the privilege of baptizing them. All I can say is that scripture in D&C 18 that says "And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!".." And now, if your joy will be great with one soul that you have brought unto me into the kingdom of my Father, how great will be your joy if you should bring many souls unto me!" That is basically what I feel like when I get to see these people's lives change when they receive the gospel. I feel so honored and blessed to be able to experience all of the things that I am. In other news, I was groped by a gay man this week hahaha. That was a new experience. My first thought was to punch him in the face, but then I remembered I have learned to be more Christlike here on the mission, and that was not something Christ would do, so I just told him to never do that again. Ha Mother, I'm not being a ba hambug about Christmas, but I don't really need anything, and I don't want to be selfish, and I know shipping is way expensive here. So anyway, things are going well, my language is getting better, it just takes some time. At least I can understand most of what people say to me now, and even have a decent conversation. But I've still got a long way to go. Well I guess thats about all for me this week, thank you all for everything, love you all! Love, Elder Andersen

Monday, November 15, 2010

Well hello fans! This week has been..... long to say the least haha. Basically we've just been trying to find people tp teach and walking and walking and talking LOTS. We haven't really found too many people though yet. Well, I mean we have, but they don't want to investigate the gospel haha. But I am confident that our efforts will yield success. Even if we don't see it immediately. I didn't see any more dead dogs this week though so no pictures.. sorry. I don't know things are starting to get to the point where everything that is so crazy in America is so normal to me here now, that I don't even think to take pictures of it haha. But oh well. Our church attendance this sunday was about 20 less than normal. Why you might ask? Well because Manny Pacquiao had a fight yesterday of course! Haha and he won in 12 rounds by unanimous decision. Just in case you were wondering. As for things I want or need... Umm basically I've already told you stuffs I want. Mom, basically they have everything here that they have in America so just send me whatever recipes. Chicken and Pork is readily available and beef is sometimes but it's kinda expensive. Other than that they have most everything. Including Potatoes! Yum! And they're not even pathetically small! Ha. So yeah recipes, pictures, and I'm not sure quite what else. Whatever you feel like sending I guess. Things are going well though. My language is getting better, though not by any means great, and I'm loving life here. I'm excited cause today we're going to play basketball, which I haven't done for a while. You all sound pretty busy doing stuff though. When are they reorganizing the stake presidency? Bishopric? They've been in there a while haven't they? Well it is most definitely not winter here! Not even close. Although people do have Christmas lights up and listen to Christmas music all the time. Filipino Christmas music is interesting. I actually like the most famous christmas album. I don't know the names of the people so I guess you can't look it up, but I have the whole album memorized because our neighbor listens to it every morning while I'm eating breakfast haha. It's going to be interesting having Christmas here. I don't think it's really even gonna feel like Christmas, but thats ok. The time is going by fast though, I just realized that I have been out 4 months now. and after Christmas nearly 6. Grabe! Time flies when you're working hard! I'm excited this week because the parents of the Villanueva family are getting baptized this week! Finally the whole family will be members! OK well I guess thats about it for me this week. Love you all! Love, Elder Andersen

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Hello again, sorry I am writing a day late, yesterday we had to go to Bacolod so I could withdraw money cause the bank in La Carlota was broken. Talk about culture shock when going to Bacolod! That place is nuts! It's Huuuge and they have basically everything there. They have this mall/movie theater/grocery store called SM and it is a massive building with tons of stores. It's nicer than a lot of the malls in America. And at least as big. But it was cool cause I got a lot of stuff I wanted for cheaper there and what not. It was fun. So this week has been good, but hard at the same time cause we've just been trying to find people all week long. It wears you out pretty good, but it helps me with my language, trying to talk to people and stuff. Elder Ventigan is really good and he helps me learn new things about the language every companion study, and is just really good about helping me with it, for which I am very grateful. Time is going fast, everyone here is in a Christmas frenzy, but at the same time it doesn't feel like Christmas time when it's super warm and sunny outside and you are sweating and stuff ha. But thats ok. Things have been going good, Uncle Doug and Aunt Debbie and their family sent me a halloween letter yesterday, well technically they sent it like October 19, but I just got it yesterday, and it was really thoughtful of them. I'm attaching a picture of my new best friend I found this week: Yes, that is a dead dog. And yes, the people were going to eat it. They thought it was hilarious when I took a picture with it. It basically is though haha. I love the people here, they are amazing. I don't know if you can put this picture on my blog or whatever but if you can that would be cool. Doesn't it just look tasty? I actually do want to eat dog before I leave, and some other stuff too. I feel like my emails just get shorter and shorter every week because I don't know what to say.. The work is good, I'm good, and disease free! I'm learning to cook Filipino foods, and really be "Filipino". I'll let you know how that goes. So until next time- Love always, Elder Andersen

Monday, November 1, 2010

Hello again! It's November! Crazy! Doesn't feel like it here.. ha not quite the same on a tropical island.So this week has been good/long/hard but great nonetheless. I have a new companion! His name is Elder Ventigan, he's from somewhere in the Baguio mission. Not that that means anything to any of you.. anyway, he is pretty cool and fun, his english isn't quite as good as elder sanchez's but its ok I can understand his Illongish haha. Actually these first couple days he's been struggling a little speaking Illongo cause he just got transfered from a Cebuano speaking area, but he's good now. He speaks like 5 different languages it's amazing.But yeah the work is going to get harder for us this transfer because we "harvested" all our investigators the past couple transfers, so now we gotta find new people, and tracting just isn't as effective. Hopefully we can get the members to help us out with referrals and stuff, they are way more effective. So yes, they do have "halloween" here, but it's completely different than our halloweens. Here it's called all saints day, and basically they just make a ton of amazing traditional Filipino foods, and then in the evening go to the cemetery and light candles and stuff on their dead relatives graves. Apparently it's a big deal though. I'm just excited for the food haha. So Mom, I still would like those recipies, and some pictures of everyone in the family, and maybe one of the rexburg temple, and our house and surrounding areas and stuff, if thats at all possible. Just so I can show people what it's like where I live. The Villanueva family I'm always telling you about is particularly interested haha, they have all our families' names memorized! And they've never even seen pictures cause I don't have pictures of everyone. Anyway things have been going good. The Illongo is coming along slowly but surely. I can't wait for the day I can speak it fluently! Hopefully that day comes.. So do you guys have snow already? I'm gonna miss having a white Christmas. Welllllll I can't really think of anything cool to write about now, so till next week! Love, Elder Andersen

Monday, October 25, 2010

So... I'm staying in La Castellana next transfer! yay! But I'm a little nervous for my follow up trainer. Oh well, it'll work out.. this week has been hot! We haven't had like any rain this week, which is weird, and last week we had a ton of rain cause of the Baguio that came through northern Luzon. But it's been good. We have some really good investigators that are doing well. The one sister, sister Johna, is the mother of the Villanueva family and she is always surprising us. She's not even a member yet, but she knows a ton and is definitely going to be a future leader in the church. So last week she was talking to us about Lucy Mack Smith, this week she told us she is preparing to receive her patriarchal blessing! haha it's so awesome! She and her husband and niece are scheduled to get baptized on November 20th I think. Then we have this other family we found last week that is really prepared for us. They read the book of mormon, pray, and a couple of them were able to go to church yesterday. The father was taught years ago in Manila, so he remembers a little, and they are way accepting of the gospel. We asked him to pray at the end of our lesson, and he did, and then at our next lesson he told us that was the first time he had ever prayed, and since then has been praying for everything. So they're way cool, except they speak Tagalog, which I don't remember much anymore cause I've been so focused on Illongo. I can understand a lot of it, but I can't speak it very well. Even elder Sanchez who speaks Tagalog said he was having a hard time teaching them cause he hasn't spoken it in forever. We had zone conference this week, it was really good. President Tobias is awesome, and the training we received was really good. We are really focusing on retention and reactivation, or "rescue" as we call it. Because there were so many converts back in the day and stuff that were either missionary converts or were baptized just because. Now we have very high standards for baptism to insure the people endure to the end. But there are so many people that are not enduring to the end, and that is what we are focusing on. Also helping the wards and branches function like a normal ward or branch should, because they really don't have any idea because none of them has ever been in a fully functioning ward. We are trying to help the members realize what really being a member of this church means, and that they can't be content just going to church on sunday... thats proving a little difficult, but I'm confident we can help them, and help this branch. It used to be a ward, but now the average attendance is 85. Thats a little pathetic, and thats what we want to change. So yeah, good things are happening. I can't believe I'll be in my second transfer next week! I really need to learn Illongo fast! I can understand and say more each day, but it's still slow. And a bit frustrating at times, but it's all good. I'm doing well, miss you all, love you! -Elder Andersen

Monday, October 18, 2010

Hey Family, how's it goin? Things here are going well, another week has gone by.. I can't believe I only have 2 weeks left in this transfer! I think I'll be staying in La Castellana next transfer, but thats just a guess.. I hope I do haha cause we're gonna have some baptisms in November that I really want to be there for! We had 2 this week, one was the son of the Villanueva family, his sisters are the ones I baptized, and they are like the coolest family ever. They act like they've been members their whole lives. But the parents never come to church, but they went to conference last week, and then this week they came to church and are going to continue, and are going to be baptized in November! I'm really excited for them. The other baptism was the father of the Dela Serna family, the other way cool family I was telling you about. Finally they are all members! It was an awesome sight to see. Their family is already planning to be sealed next year in Cebu. So this week we went on exchanges with the zone leaders, so I went to the city of La Carlota on tuesday with Elder De Los Santos. He is way funny I like him a lot, but he doesn't speak english very well so it was fun to help him with his english as he helped me with my Illongo. I finally had something kind of crazy to eat here, elder de los santos made it. I was a little nervous at first when we went to the market and he bought a bunch of vegetables, chicken liver, shrimp, and quail eggs. I thought to myself "how in the world are all those mixed together going to taste good!?" but, somehow it did! haha I ate it with no problem. I've learned not to ask what something is though, just eat it. Cause most the time if you just eat it without looking or thinking about what it is, it will taste really good. But if you ask, you might find out it's something crazy like barbecued blood clot. Which is apparently really good. I hear Balut is good too it just looks disgusting. I'll have to see for myself :) I think I'm slowly getting better at the language, but maybe thats just my thinking haha. It's been raining a lot lately. I'm not sure if I told you how crazy the storms here are. When it rains, which is everyday, you can just see the wall of rain coming towards you, and the lightning is super crazy, you feel like you're going to get struck by it! Then the thunder is louder than I have ever heard before. It shakes you to the core it's so loud. Sometimes when it catches you off guard everyone like ducks for cover cause that's just the natural instinct, but they are way cool to see. People tell you way funny things here, elder sanchez told me not to trust their comments haha cause a couple nights ago an investigator told me I was getting chubby, but I'm pretty sure I'm exactly the same (at least I think I am) and then a different investigator told me I look more mature than the first time they saw me. I don't know, I don't think I got that much more mature looking in one month haha. I don't really know where they get ideas like that, but it's funny. I got somewhat sick this week. On thursday I woke up with a way bad sore throat and a splitting headache. So I just popped a bunch of pills and went to work. I'm not really sure what we did on thursday though I was pretty out of it ha. But I'm back to normal now, so no worries. I don't have any crazy diseases or anything that I'm aware of, so everything is good. Well I'm not really sure what else to write cause you guys don't have any questions or anything, so I guess this is it for this week. But thanks for all you do, Love you! - Elder Andersen

Monday, October 11, 2010

Well hello family! This week has been pretty great. It's weird, the days seem so long, but the weeks seem to be flying by! I know that doesn't really make sense, but whatever... So I'm not really even sure what to write about this week. Things have been going well in La Castellana, the people are awesome. It's really neat, we have been teaching this one family for a while and most of them are baptized, well actually it's like 3 families but they are all related and live right next to/ with each other ha it's a little complicated. Anyway so we've been teaching them and they are way awesome, they are the ones I told you about that gave me the bananas. So we were teaching them and the grandpa of the family has never listened to our message, and before he talked to us actually really hated us, we were teaching his daughters and he wouldn't let them be taught, but they all prayed and he let them be taught and baptized, and their families also, and since then he is really nice to us but still hasn't let us teach him or anything. But a couple nights ago we went and taught them a lesson and he was there and listened to the whole thing, and was way interested and asked really cool questions and then stuff, and yesterday he came to general conference! the whole family of 30 or so did it was so awesome! they told us in that lesson that was the first time they had all been together in a long time. I think that brother, brother bebong (people have really weird names here) realized how much the gospel had changed his family's lives and everything. Hopefully he will continue to listen and want to be baptized. We had some other really good lessons this week too. We've been so busy in fact we've had to go on splits with President Oliverio and J.R. It is amazing how if you have the faith that Heavenly Father is preparing his children to hear his message, you will find them. It's funny, when you go up to people, if they don't really want to talk to you they kind of just pretend like you're not there, but they are nice enough to listen to our message sometimes and so we start and they won't be paying much attention, but then after they feel the spirit and can feel that we are different than everyone else, they really start to listen and pay attention and ask questions it's neat. You can definitely tell when the spirit is working through you in a lesson. We've found some way cool families and we are hoping they will be baptized. We've received a bunch of new training this week on how to improve our teachings and stuff and they have really helped. They want us now, to give a baptismal invitation, or commitment in just the 1st or 2nd lesson. I'm lucky I just got here and am getting this training now, so I don't really have to change my ways haha. Well Illongo is still hard, but I think it's coming slowly... I hope. It's frustrating sometimes, but it's ok. We had to go to La Carlota to the stake center to watch conference on Saturday and Sunday, it was really good. I think I definitely got more out of this conference than other ones before. But, the funnest part of going to conference was driving there. The branch hired what they call a silakian (sp?) which is basically just a big truck. So 50 or 60 of us all crammed in and drove the 45 minutes to La Carlota it was way fun, especially since I was riding on the roof of the cab of the truck haha. They are harvesting the sugar cane here now, it's so primitive, they just chop it down with machetes. It takes them forever to harvest just one field, and then they load it up on a truck or a trailer thing hooked to a karabaw. My goal is to ride one of those before I leave. Haha funny story, ok well first cultural note: peeing in public, like on the streets, on walls, trees, or whatever is perfectly acceptable here. So the other night we were in a different city cause we had to talk to the elders there, and we were on a bus going back to la castellana and we got a flat, so we were standing outside waiting for them to change the tire and this guy gets off the bus, goes to the back tire, and just does his business! hahaha mind you there are still 50+ people on the bus and like 20 outside. I died laughing. So many things like that make me laugh here. Like walking back to our house at night past the karaoke bars and hearing the people singing because they can't sing, but there they are singing with all their might. ahh I love it. So yeah, things have been going well, busy, but good. Thank you for all your support and prayers and everything, they are much appreciated. Love you all! Love Elder Andersen (aka Joe)

Monday, September 27, 2010

So second week in the Philippines down! Everything is going great, I love it here! The people are awesome and so is this place. It's just so different from everything I'm used to, so it's fun to experience all these new things. All right so where shall I start. I guess I'll tell you about the people here. The president of the branch is named president oliverio and he and his family are some of the coolest/funniest people I've ever met, I love them! President is way funny, I can't wait till I can speak Illongo so I can understand all of his humor, his wife is super nice and a good cook, they always feed us on sundays. She is also making me a bag called baguio bag which is like a side satchel/man purse kinda thing I guess you could say. I'm excited for it, I hate carryin my big backpack around. They have lots of kids, but I only know their youngest son who is 19 and is the branch mission leader, his name is JR. I love working with him too. It's always hot here, no matter what time of day. However, when it rains it cools down for a little bit. Wow I love the rain here! It rains most everyday, and when it rains, it pours! like the biggest rainstorms I have ever seen. So when we teach lessons either jr or president go with us. They are basically like my family here ha. Elder sanchez is awesome, we have a lot of fun together. This week he had to go to Bacolod for 2 days for some training meeting, so I went to another area with some other elders on splits, it was way cool. Their area is like bukid-err jungly/ foresty. So everyone that lives there lives in bamboo huts with palm tree leaf roofs and everything it was way cool. La castellana has one part like that, but mostly it's just small city. One of the coolest things I did this week was baptize! we had these 3 girls, ages 11 13 and 21 who were going to get baptized and we asked them who they wanted to baptize them and they said me! it was such a cool experience! Their whole family is way awesome, the parents know the church is true and they have strong testimonies of the church but they have a problem with coffee and they never go to church cause they have work, so thats something we have to work on with them. We have lots of investigators actually, and also we have to do a lot of visiting to recent converts here and like less active members to try and get them to church and what not. I don't understand, the people here are so nice and will do anything for you, but they don't do like home teaching or fellowshipping, so thats why recent convert retention rates are so low. Thats one of the biggest problems in the philippines. Ok now I'll tell you about my house. I don't even know how to describe it really, it's really small! when you walk in the room is about the size of our kitchen maybe and then there are two rooms about the size of like andreas room, one with desks and tehn the other has our stinkin bunk bed haha. then we have a bathroom the size of the backroom bathroom, and the shower room is about that big too. So far I haven't seen anything too crazy. The snails here are HUGE and then we have these little lizards called tiki everywhere in houses and everything, but they don't bother anyone cause they eat mosquitoes and stuff. The ones you gotta be careful with are the tuko lizards. they are bigger sized and make a sound that sounds like their name- tuk-o, tuk-o ha but they can be scary cause if they bite you they cant let go cause they have locking jaws and so if you get bit by one you have to kill it. we don't have big spiders in our house, but out in the sugar cane there are big ones. at night the kids go through at night with flashlights and catch them and then fight them. Oh good news, the roosters don't wake me up anymore cause I'm just used to them now I guess. It's way pretty here, I'm basically in the mountains and there is a big volcano not too far away and then some other little mountain things, but everything is just so lush and green. there is also a big river that goes right through la castellana. My Illongo isn't very good yet, but I'm working on it. In some ways it's a lot like tagalog, but then in other ways its completely different. It's basically just a matter of talking and using words and mimicking the natives, even if I don't understand what the words mean haha. Just trying to talk to people is big. I haven't had too much fruit yet, but i've tried a couple new ones. I'm excited for mangos, but they aren't in season right now so they are a lot more expensive, so we don't buy them. Well thats about it for me here, oh last week I told you about sikads. only I called them sickles haha I have no idea why probably cause I was in a hurry, but they are called sikads. They are way fun, especially the big motorcycle ones with like 6 people stuffed onto it. Busses are fun too haha a bus that has enough room for 50 people will hold actually 80 or more. It's great. I'm gonna miss all these crazy ways of transportation when I go back home, but thats not for a while haha. OK thats all for now. Love you- Elder Andersen

Monday, September 20, 2010

SO I made it! haha it's so crazy here! I guess I should tell you where I am first off.. I got assigned to an area called La castellana it's about and hour and a half ride from bacolod on the stinkin busses. I don't know if it's on a map because it's kinda small but it's by the mountains and super gorgeous, there are a lot of sugar cane fields here, and it is nothing like america haha. There are like karabaws (water Buffalo) everywhere in the fields and stuff. The town is pretty nice though, there are a few cars but mostly motorcycles. Everyone has motorcycles it's weird. So they either ride those, walk, or take a cycle they say it sickle, which are like these bikes with carts on the side, or they have motorcycle ones too. It's pretty awesome. My trainers name is Elder Sanchez and he is a native Filipino from Manila! I'm the only one of my batch that got a filipino companion... Kinda weird. It was hard at first cause like I didn't know what to say to him or anything but it is better now. In la castellena there is a small church building but there are a lot of people that come to church, we had 96 yesterday! This area is newly reopened just last transfer, but elder sanchez and his trainee before me had 13 baptisms already! We had 4 on saturday, but I'm not counting them as mine cause I didn't do anything to help those people I just got here haha. I don't understand like anything because everyone speaks Illongo, which I need to learn. It's different than Tagalog, but I'm sure I will learn it sometime. My apartment is nicer than I expected, but still not that nice haha. We have a shower, but the water pressure usually stinks so mostly we just end up using the good ol' bucket and ladel technique. It's a little chilly but it wakes you up. I haven't been sleeping very well cause I wake up at like 4:30 or 5 cause of stupid roosters! They start making noise so early and everyone and their dog has a rooster so it's just non stop. Haha I never knew this but filipinos are awful at singing. They love music and singing but they can't carry a tune to save their lives. I do my best to sing on tune but Its hard to get 96 people on tune. It sounds like a combination of tone deaf people and dying cats , so try to imagine 96 people doing that haha. When we teach I just sit there and smile, and then randomly e Sanchez will be like and now elder andersen is going to share about such and such, so I do, and then he translates for me. I love it here, the people are all way nice, and they are really poor. They have like nothing, but will still have a tv and a cell phone, I don't understand it. But whatever. THe kids here are the cutest things I have ever seen! they are fun. Yes, everyone yells out Hey joe! or wash yo name? or they just run up and give you a high five. THe food is good, elder sanchez always cooks, and I do the dishes, cause I don't know anything about the food here. I only get a half hour here too it's kinda lame... so I gotta go, but before I do here is my address in case anyone wants to send me mail: ELder Greg Andersen Philippines Bacolod Mission Galo&Lacson street P.O. box 660 Negros Occidental 6100 Philippines I love you all, thank you for your prayers and support, I need them! Love, Elder Andersen

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Hey Fam! Well this week has been a lot calmer than all the crazy stuff that happened last week. Nothing really too exciting to talk about, except I did get my flight plans on Friday so I'll tell you what those are. OK so at 4:30 next monday we leave the MTC and drive to SLC airport and hang around there and our flight leaves at 8 to LAX and then we get there at like 9 and hang out at LAX till 2 in the morning and from there we fly all the way to Taipe, Taiwan! Then from Taipe to Manila, And from Manila to Bacolod and I get there at 3:15 P.M. on September 15. So I'll be flying for a really long time. I bet it's going to be just wonderful. OK so things I need: Yes I did get that towel thanks! But I think I'm gonna need more than 4 bottles of contact solution for 2 years... the deoderant is fine I can get it there so just send those 4 or whatever. I need a new alarm clock.. the one you gave me before I came didn't work for some reason, like you couldn't read the numbers on it or anything. Yeah I can't believe I'm leaving in a week either! I heard about BYU winning their first game. I also heard them winning their first game. Good for them I suppose. I was more excited about Oregons 72-0 beating of New Mexico. Tell Miriam thank you for her email, and that I'm sorry I don't ever have time to reply personally to anyone! Rachel- good luck in school at good ol BYU-I! Oh and yes I should be able to email you from the Philippines I'm pretty sure. Letters would take way too long so I'm not even going to deal with those. I'll probably send some stuff home that I don't want or can't take with me. Our suitcases have to be pretty light. OK well I best be going, I've got class here in a few minutes, I love you all and I"m praying for you! Oh P.S. I think I can call you from the airport, so don't be afraid to answer the phone from a weird number monday night around 9 or 10 probably. OK Mahal ko kayo! Love, Elder Andersen

Monday, August 30, 2010

Well hello family. Whats up with the Hola?? You know I don't speak spanish, ano ba ayen?? Your week sounds pretty normal haha. Schools back in session huh? weird. Does rachel start school monday? I'm sorry to hear about uncle dick, but it's probably a blessing that he is going to go back to Heavenly Father soon. Dad sounds like he is having an awesome time, I'm jealous, but I'm also having a great time, I just can't wait to go to the philippines in 2 weeks from today! I get my flight plans later this week, it's exciting! Well this past week has definitely been the hardest one for me so far. On tuesday, Elder heywood and I went with elder crowley (the one with colon issues) to the hospital to get his colonoscopy done. it was weird being in the real world and out of my little bubble in the MTC. But everything turned out well with E. Crowley and he should be leaving tonight or tomorrow. Tuesday night, Elder Holland came and spoke and gave an amazing talk! He doesn't mess around thats for sure. He was pounding the podium with his fist and everything it was awesome. Wednesday, one of the elders in my zone had his lung collapse so he had to get a tube put in his chest, and then wednesday night his companions grandpa died. Also wednesday we got 19 new missionaries so i had to show them around and explain everthing to em and what not. You know, zone leader stuff. Thursday we went to the hospital with Elder collapsed lung and they took the tube out of his chest. Everything looks good but he will probably get reassigned cause there is a 1/3 chance it could collapse again and he would need surgery and he probably cant get that where he is going. But maybe in Manila, or they have Tagalog missions in California and stuff. So yeah just a long busy hard week for me, I only got to go to class once, so my Tagalog wasn't so hot this week, but it's all good. Well I better get going, mahal ko kayo! Love Elder Andersen
P.S. I might also need you to send me some more deoderant and contact solution cause I hear it's hard to get sa pilippinas.. and some earplugs for my 30 hours of plane riding. . Bye!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Hello Family! Don't even trip! (thats what sister Vaipulu the new zealand tongan sister in my district always says, she's hilarious!) I just put a letter with pictures in the mailbox, so you should be getting that Wednesday or so. Well sounds like everything has been going pretty well with everyone except Aunt K and Uncle Dick. I will pray for them. I think there is a fire around here somewhere too cause it has been super hazy today. But we have gotten a few storms here, but nothing really serious like you were talking about. I'm excited for dad too, that will be awesome. Ha don't be offended mom, but I don't really care that lydia hill got engaged... and I don't even know who trevor weeks is. Rachel is getting married huh? Not following in the footsteps of her brothers? Haha. Well good for her. Umm i think i might want like a microfiber towel thing before I leave here. I feel like I'm going to have to throw out a lot of stuff. Being a zone leader is good, I gave you details to all your questions in my letter so you'll just have to read that. Nope not dreaming in Tagalog yet, I would go crazy if I did. We went to the temple again today, it's really nice to be able to do that every week, I'm going to miss it when I leave in only 3 more weeks! After our session, Elder Heywood and I noticed they needed some help in the laundry room so we went in there and folded socks with these 2 down syndrome sisters for like an hour, it was so fun, and they were hilarious! My former zone leader before elder Heywood and I, Elder Crowley, is supposed to be leaving today, but he can't cause he's getting a colonoscopy tomorrow cause he's been having some... Issues, so elder heywood and I get to go with him to the hospital to the real world tomorrow cause he's assigned to us until he can leave. We're excited to get out and see the real world but I feel really bad for him and his district is leaving today and everything. Hopefully everything works out for him so he only has to stay like an extra week or so. There is a Tongan elder that got hurt playing volleyball that has been here for 5 months and is finally leaving this week. Well, thats all for me, Mahal po Kayo! Love, Elder Andersen

Monday, August 16, 2010

Kumusta pamilya! Well sounds like everyone has had a crazy week. Good thing Lara's wrist isn't broken. Is school really starting next week? Wow time flies. So to answer your questions my companion is Elder Jared Heywood from Gilbert Arizona and he's really cool. We're basically the same only he's a couple inches shorter than me but is built bigger, he played volleyball and football in highschool. We get along really well. We both have 6 kids but his family is the exact opposite of our - 2 girls and 4 boys. Oh yeah and we both got called to be zone leaders yesterday so we'll be the zone leaders till we leave. Basically we just have to babysit all the other missionaries and keep them in line, go to a bunch of meetings, and welcome in new missionaries and stuff. But it'll be good for us, I think it'll help us focus more and become better because everyone looks to us for an example, and if the zone leaders do it, they can do it, so we have to follow the rules pretty strictly haha. Only speaking Tagalog is hard, but it helps us learn a lot better, and we can understand more than we can speak. That is if they don't speak too fast, some of the teachers here are rocket mouths. Yeah I'll try to send some pictures of my district and stuff. We haven't had any apostles or anything come, I think the highest up person we've had come was elder Gene R. Cook and that was a while ago. Last nights devotional was pretty cool though. Stephen Jones, Thomas Durham, and Newell Dayley all came and talked about the hymns they wrote for the hymnbook and the power of music (When Faith Endures, With Humble Heart, and Lord, I Would Follow Thee) It was really funny when Newell Dayley got up to speak, because Miles Burgener gave the opening prayer and when brother Dayley got up he had him come up and was like would Elder Burgener come up? My home teaching companion is Elder Burgeners father, Kelly Burgener. Apparently he and sister Dayley are doing a service mission at BYU-I. Rachel, Thanks for your email, I don't have time today to really reply to it, but good luck this week and with school and everything, Andrea, Thanks for your letter, it always is nice to get letters! Well my email time is spent, but I love you all and thanks for your support and everything. The church is true. Mahal Kita! Until next week, Love Elder Andersen

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Hello Family! My week has been good I suppose. It sounds like you all have been busy with the garden and stuff. I'm glad you found a new home for the plant. So uh, whats happening with the rest of the family other than just Mom, Dad, and Lara Jane? What is going on in the world? I've almost been here a month already, just one more to go! Next friday we have to start speaking only Tagalog in class and teaching appointments and church and stuff. It's going to be hard, but I think it will help a lot. Well our zone got 2 new districts on wednesday so right now we have 5 districts total, it's kinda crazy. We can't even all fit on the same floor in our residence hall. But we'll have the 2 oldest districts leaving in 2 weeks, which means we'll be getting 2 new zone leaders and a new district leader. I'm know my emails are short and not very descriptive, but I don't really know what else to say, so if you have specific questions you'll have to ask them and I'll answer them. I mean, I do the same thing everyday basically so thats why I don't really know what to write. I just go to class, study, gym time, and sleep. And I say a lot of prayers here. We start and close everything with a prayer, not that it's a bad thing by any means, we just pray a lot haha. I hope everything is going well. I'm good, the church is true. PAT (thats CTR in Tagalog) Mahal kita
Love, Elder Andersen

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Hey everyone! Yeah time does go by really fast for me. the days feel like weeks but the weeks feel like days. I know that sounds dumb and cliche but it's true. Well it sounds like you all have just had a blast this past week! Sounds pretty busy though. I'm glad you all had a good time. And I'm glad the tent trailer didn't kill you, you better sell it and get something cool like a motorcyle for me to ride when I get back or something. Or get dad a Dodge 1500. That is neat that President Christensen remembered me. Well basically I've just been doing the exact same things I told you about, class, study, gym, teaching etc.. I can tell you more about it in a letter or something, I only get a half hour for emailing... We're getting 2 new districts in our zone wedensday, so 18 new elders and 6 new sisters, our zone is going to be huge! We'll have 5 districts. And I think some of the ones coming are going to Bacolod as well, they must be doin work there cause there are a ton of us going to Bacolod. My district is really fun and we all get along really well with each other and stuff. I think you have to have a good time here or you will go crazy. It's weird to think that if I was going to an English speaking mission I would be leaving today.. But I'm here for 6 more weeks. I think it'll go by really fast though, it already is. Yesterday was fast sunday and it was a killer cause they feed you so much and so often here, even when you're not hungry you feel like you have to be eating. I haven't gained any weight though so that's good. Today we went to the temple again and that was nice. Oh and Mom, I did get your package, thank you! The cookies were great and not smashed. Sorry for not giving you too much information, if I have time I'll try to get a letter home this week. Mahal po kayo
Elder Andersen

Monday, July 26, 2010

Hello everyone! Yes, I do get to email (obviously), it's pretty nice. Except I always have to do it in the laundry room and it's hot and sweaty down here. So much so that my fingers are just slipping all over the keyboard because they are drenched in sweat. But not really. But seriously, it's really hot. Wow, so our house is that much closer to keeping up with the times now! Mom, my shoes are the orange saucony's and they were in the garage by the garbage cans on that mat, so I hope those are the ones you sent me. I guess I will find out. I'm sorry things didn't work out with Rachel and everything, I'm glad you all still go to go to the playmill. I'm glad everything is going well with the fam. Lara says it is quiet. Damon, Miriam, Hannah, Myah, and Elie, thank you so much for your package you sent me! The cookies taste great, a little crunchy, but tasty :) The shirt is nice too, I can never have too many T-shirts! And Hannahs picture really brightens up my desk space! I hope everything goes well for you guys moving into your new house! This past week has flown by, all the days seem to mesh together when you do basically the same thing everyday, which is class, studying, eating, and just being my goofy weird self. In answer to Lara's question about what we do on sundays, yes we do have a fireside and learn about gospel things. Basically it's like every other day here except we don't exercise, and we have more meetings. First we have priesthood meeting, then district meeting, (Elder Heywood and I had to teach the lesson for district meeting yesterday and did really well) sacrament meeting, and then we get to go up to the temple grounds and just relax and take pictures or whatever for 3 hours. Then we have dinner, and then the fireside. Yesterday the speaker was the guy that is in charge of all the church T.V. commercials, and her showed us a bunch, mostly really old ones from like the 70's, and 80's. They were pretty funny. After that they show 4 different movies we can watch. After our movie we just go back to our residence halls and write in our journals, plan, etc... It's weird to be writing in a journal everyday and I kinda feel like I write the same things everyday. We took some pictures yesterday at the temple so I'll try to send you some. The Provo temple opened back up today so we got to go and do a session, it was really neat. Well I gotta get back to my laundry so I'll write more next week. Love, Elder Andersen

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Hey Family! It's your favorite elder, Elder Andersen! The MTC is pretty great, and things have been going pretty good. I'm just doing my laundry right now, they have computers we can email on in here. My companion is Elder Heywood from Gilbert, Arizona. He's pretty awesome and goofy like me, and we get along really well together. There are 10 of us in our district, 8 elders, 2 sisters. All but three of us are going to Bacolod. And there are I think 6 elders in the other zone that are going to Bacolod as well. We were talking to them and they said the district before them that just left before we got here had 6 or 8 elders and sisters going to Bacolod too, so apparently they are sending an army there. Everyday we just go to class and either learn language, or how to use Preach my Gospel. Tagalog is coming along ok, the elders that have been here a while always say stuff to us and we can't understand them so we just smile and say "Mabuti!" The days are long but they are starting to go faster. Sometimes when I'm writing in my journal at night I can't remember what I did all day because we are always busy doing something. The food is pretty decent, but it was hard to get used to getting fed so much and so often when you just sit here and don't really do anything. We have gym time everyday, but it's not like you get a good hardcore workout playing sand volleyball or whatever. I can see how people gain weight here. Especially since you can eat as much as you want. How is the family? Rexburg? Everything? I don't have Andrea's email address so I can't send her this for my blog, so if you would send that to me when you write me back I would appreciate it. Could you also send me my running shoes and another T-shirt? Just one of those Nike ones. Yesterday it was really nice because we just got to go up to the temple grounds and relax and stuff for three hours or so. I forgot my camera to take pictures, but I will try to send you some next week.
Elder Andersen