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)