Monday, December 19, 2011

Hello Family! I guess I'll be saying hello to you in a few days huh? Yeah I'm not sure when I'll call you, but don't worry I'll figure something out. It'll either be saturday sunday, or monday (for me) so I guess just answer the phone if it's a weird number or in the middle of the night! I'll try to call at a convenient time though. Well I'm doing just fine! There have been baguios rollin through, but mostly just dumping lots of rain. It does flood here as well, but not nearly as bad as it does in Luzon. We're pretty safe here on Negros. It's probably the safest island in the Philippines, as far as storms and things go. But thanks for your concern! This week has been good, just been working hard and doin work. Well tomorrow we have transfers. We haven't gotten transfer announcements just yet, but it's pretty positive that my companion, Elder Groves, is transferring, and that I will stay, and be here in Caduha-an for 6 months. So that'll be good. It's always good to get someone fresh in with you so that they are really excited to do the work somewhere you've been working for the past 5 months. So I guess when I call for Christmas I'll tell you all about that. Things have been going well with the work. The members are seeming to catch an idea of what they are supposed to be doing. On sunday the stake president came and gave a training for them and pretty much just told them if they are ever going to become a ward they have got to work for it, and do more than they are doing. We're working with a lot of the branch auxiliary leaders to help them understand what they are supposed to do in their calling. Slowly, but surely. The work we're doing now is a little different since we're focusing so much now on members, but it's good too. Sometimes it's way frustrating when you're working with people that have been members for like 15 years and won't come back to church. Cause if they were investigators it would be obvious that they aren't prepared, and just drop them, but these people are members. They have made covenants, and are not keeping them! And they don't even care! That's why our work is so important because we know what is going to happen to them if they don't come back! So we are doing everything we can to get people to come back. But of course we have investigators as well. We're working with mostly part-member families right now. But President Amarante says he's preparing some people for us that he knows so that'll be good. All righty, well I'd better go, but talk to you soon! Love, Elder Andersen

Monday, December 12, 2011

Hey Family. Well another week gone by, and another closer to
Christmas! This week has been good. The funeral service for Sister
Amarante was really good. I have never seen the church building so
full, and saw many inactives we have been working with, that I never
thought I would see in the church. So that was really good. My
personal testimony has grown a lot because of everything that has
happened. Elder Nobleza of the seventy presided, and was also a
speaker. Funerals and Burials are a little different than they are  in
America but it was good. We've just really been working with less
active, inactive, and recent converts. They are really our biggest
focus. Of course, we still talk to people and teach other people about
the gospel, but if we don't have many investigators, we teach the
members. Things are starting to get rolling in the branch. Slowly, but
surely. We had our first PEC yesterday since I've been here.
Correlation is really the key to everything in the Church. I'm really
sorry I don't have much to say this week, cause I'm really rushed
right now, and can't focus cause the kid next to me in the internet
place is listening to hardcore screamo satan worshipper music and I'm
about to stab my ears out with ice picks! Good thing they don't have
ice picks in this country! I wanna give a birthday shout out to none
other than my amazing father, Dad! Happy birthday Dad! Well I love you
all, and am so thankful for all you do for me and look forward to
talking to you in a couple weeks! Love, Greg

Monday, December 5, 2011

Well you all seem to be doing great, I'm glad to hear it! Ah Cathan?
Yeah he's my buddy. Don't worry, it doesn't feel too much like
Christmas here either. No snow. But we have had TONS of rain lately! A
couple nights ago, I experienced the biggest storm of my life! The
thunder literally shook the house, and it was pretty much like the
lights were on because of how frequent the lightning was! And then not
even one second after the lightning would flash, the thunder would
boom and shake the house again! I can't imagine what it would be like
to experience that living in a tiny bamboo hut! At church the next
morning, there were 10 people there at 9 o'clock. That's what rain
does here. But lots of people showed up after sacrament meeting.. I
feel really bad cause I fell like all I tell you guys about are bad
things that happen. I don't mean to! There are lots of good things
too! But this week was one of the saddest on my whole mission. I think
I mentioned a few weeks ago that the stake president, President
Amarante, lives in our branch. Well his wife passed away this week.
She was only 39. They have five children, and the youngest is 1, the
next youngest just turned 3. My heart aches for them. Sister Rebecca,
"Bec Bec" was only in the hospital for 2 weeks before she died. At
first, it didn't seem like too big of a deal. A couple of weeks ago
she was having some back pains, and we gave her a blessing. A couple
days later she was admitted to the hospital because her x-rays showed
she had a lot of liquid in her lungs that wasn't supposed to be there.
They operated on her and sucked all the stuff in her lungs out, but
then they discovered a tumor growing on her lungs. They were going to
operate on that too, but she passed away before they could. They found
out from her biopsy that she actually had stage 4 pancreatic cancer
and that it had moved to the lungs as well. It's been really hard for
everyone in the branch. Also for me. We have grown pretty close to
their family since I've been here. We used to go over there once or
twice a week and help them with stuff because President Amarante works
in Bacolod and doesn't get back until about 7, and then on sundays he
doesn't get home until like 9:30. So we would get water from the well
and stuff for them so that when President got home he would have time
with his family. President and and Sister Amarante are some of the
kindest, and faithful people I have met in my life, and I always
enjoyed our conversations. Sister Bec Bec's passing had a big effect
on the youth especially because she was their seminary teacher. She
was also the chorister in sacrament meeting. There were many tear
filled eyes on sunday when she wasn't there to lead the music. It was
really hard for me, because a lot of the members didn't know about her
passing, and I had to be the bearer of bad news. It was like a punch
in the stomach every time I told someone else. I can't imagine what
her family must be feeling right now; what it would be like to lose a
wife or mother at such a young age. I'm so glad that even though I
don't know what it's like to experience that, there is always one who
knows our pains and sufferings, for He too, suffered them. "Surely he
hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him
stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted... But he was wounded for our
transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of
our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed." This
experience, and others have made me so thankful for the plan of
salvation and all the blessings we will reap from it, if we can just
endure to the end of this mortal life. I, like Nephi, feel to rejoice
in the plan of our Heavenly Father: "O how great the goodness of our
God, who prepareth a way for our escape from the grasp of this awful
monster; yea, that monster, death and hell, which I call the death of
the body, and also the death of the spirit." It brings such comfort to
know that there is more to this life that what we see everyday. That
there is a purpose to our being here, and that even though someone
leaves this world before us, we can see them in the next. I am so
thankful that Heavenly Father sent his son, Jesus Christ, to make it
possible for us to return to him. And I am thankful for this time of
year especially to remember him. For Christmas, Elder Groves and I are
going to do sort of a secret santa thing like we used to do back home,
and get the members some Christmas presents. The people here need such
simple things like rice, flip flops, paper, pencils, pens, just stuff
like that. I don't know how secret it will be though, cause all the
members know we are the only ones here who can afford things like
that, and also, it's not hard to see the two white guys running away
from your house, even if it is dark. I think our package to the
Amarante family will be packed with some other things as well. We're
going to go over there later and visit. Elder Teh (Philippines Area
General President) has already called and talked to him. The members
are also really supportive. So I suppose thats all for me this week.
Thank you for all your prayers and support I really need them. I love
you all! Love, Greg

Monday, November 28, 2011

Kamusta family? Things are going well here. It was good to hear about
your thanksgiving and other adventures. So it's starting to get cold
there huh? I'm gonna miss skiing again this year. Oh well, There will
still be winters to come. Well this week we've had a bit going on as
well. On Thursday we had this big training, and they announced to us
what the new 2012 Philippines Area Presidency's focus and expectations
are. A lot is changing! But it's all for good. Well first off, the
Philippines is pretty much a miracle! It's one of the smallest
countries, the Church has only been here for 50 years, but it has the
4th highest population of members in the Church! Whereas if you
compare it to Finland for example, the Church has been there for 70
years, and there are only 6,000 members! The only problem is, out of
those 645,000 in the Philippines, only 114,000 are active. That's
531,000 souls that are lost! In the last 5 years the Church has seen
tremendous growth here. There have been 77,000 converts. Again the
problem; Only 14,000 are active! That means that there are 63,000
souls that are lost just from the last 5 years! It was a really
painful and sad experience. They had us think about our recent
converts, and then, for example, if you had 30, they said only 5 or 6
would remain active in the Church. The other 25 would just add to that
enormous statistic of inactives. So the Presidency's focuses all
revolve around 2 Nephi 32:3. I'll be a little disappointed if you
don't all know that one.. They have 4 major focuses, and they are as
follows:(1) Strengthen Families. (2) Establish the Church. (3) Save
the Rising Generation. (4) Rescue the One. Then we had some training
about how we are to do that. The biggest one for me was using the Book
of Mormon effectively. Here especially in the Philippines, it's so
important for converts to have a testimony of the Book of Mormon, and
to be reading it! Because I've seen, from sad experience, that as soon
as they stop they start down "forbidden paths and are lost". People
here are really shy/ashamed so if they do something wrong they won't
come to Church cause they are too ashamed or afraid. They encouraged
us to visit as many members possible, especially the inactive, less
active, and recent converts, and teach them the lessons again, and
teach them as if they are investigators, because for some people, they
pretty much are. This puts a lot of weight on our shoulders, but I am
really excited for it. They told us there is now NO TRACTING. Rather
than tracting, we are to use all the time we would have spent
tracting, in visiting and teaching these people. It definitely added
to my testimony that the Lord is at the head of this church, and that
he has a great work in store. This is just the beginning. In January
the Area Presidency is going to have a satellite broadcast about this
as well for everyone here. It's just like Elder Teh said back in May,
that the work here is going to explode. It's a good feeling knowing
you are serving the Lord and to participate in such a great work. I
love you all and thank you all for your prayers and everything else
you have all done/are doing for me. Love Elder Andersen

Monday, November 21, 2011

Hello family! I guess I better give a happy birthday shout out to my big sister Rachel, and to my amazing mom, Mom! I love you the both and wish you the best on both of your special days! And to everyone else, Happy Thanksgiving! Guess you won't have to cook as many mashed potatoes this year since I won't be there! Just wait till next year! Sounds like things are going well with you all. Things are going well here as well. We have found some new people this week that have been willing to listen to our message, so thats good. A lot of part member families, and people that live close to members. I don't know exactly what to write about this week, I've been here so long and with Elder Groves for so long, weeks just seem to mesh together! We're doing good work right now. Like I said we have a lot of part-member investigators right now. The thing the mission has been stressing for a while now is using the lists (CMIS, Unbaptized members, Unordained members, Part-member families, etc... We can pretty much make any kind of list we want to using MLS.) This not only helps the units clean up their records, and know where everyone is and what's happening to them, it helps us a great deal because we get to talk to most everyone on our list, and know who all the members are and their situations etc.. It also is a great way for us to find new investigators, because lots of times the address will be very vague. For example, it'll say they live in Hacienda Lilia Dos. Ok, well Hacienda Lilia Dos consists of 300+ Hectares, so of course there are lots of people to work it. And because of that we are able to talk to lots of people and ask if they know the members we're looking for, and whether they do or don't we invite them to be taught about the restored gospel. It works so much better than just simply going door-to-door. It really helps to get the members involved as well, because then they will trust you and give you referrals of their friends and neighbors. We've been seeing great success in that. We've really been trying to let the members know we care about them and are willing to help them with anything. So it's getting there. It's also really nice because we are assigned to the home branch of the Stake President. We're really trying to help the branch get organized and excited. We're trying to help them correlate with us so we can help each other, and to organize the home teaching and visiting teaching etc.. They know they're supposed to do it, they just don't know how, and are shy. We've been working really closely with the Elders Quorum President and helping him with his responsibilities. I know they have problems in the Church in America, just not problems like this. I guess that's what happens when the Church has only been here for 50 years. Well, and here in Negros it's been here for like 40. But it's getting there. Elder Groves and I are still getting along well, although it's a little more boring when it's just 2 of us in the house. Lately after nightly planning he's been teaching me how to do origami. I can now make paper cranes! And flowers! We've got them all over the house haha. Or sometimes we just update our journals. We also have dvd players to watch training videos and other church movies on. The new Doctrine and Covenants one is pretty neat. Well I hope you all have a wonderful thanksgiving, and I love you all! Thank you for all your prayers (unless Barrett forgets to pray for me :) ) and continue being the best family ever! Love, Greg

Monday, November 14, 2011

Hello family! Another week gone by! Well this week we really hit the streets (dirt roads) and did our best to share the gospel with everyone that we met. We talked to lots and lots of people. Some listened, others didn't, but I'm not discouraged. I know we'll find the ones that are being prepared. We've also been doing a lot of work this week in trying to strengthen the branch, especially the leaders. We've been coming up with ways to help them understand what they are supposed to be doing without directly telling them and being overbearing. We always have to just keep in mind that they are the key holders, and the ones chosen by God to hold the calling they have. It's just a challenge sometimes to help the leaders know what their duty and responsibilities are. They really have to trust you first. We have seen a lot of good things this week with the Elders quorum President. He finally knows and is excited to do what he should be doing as president of the Elders quorum. I'm really excited for what we're seeing happening in the branch right now. The past two weeks we've had higher attendance than I've seen the whole time I've been here. And I'll hopefully see a lot more progress because I'll probably be here until February. Elder Groves didn't end up transferring, so we're together another transfer (kind of rare to stay 3 transfers with one companion, but not unheard of), which means I'll be here for two more because they don't usually pull two out at the same time. So there is the possibility of me only having one more area in my mission. Crazy. Time flies when you're doing work I suppose. So yeah, this week is just going to be full of talking to people and finding new investigators, because right now we don't have any super solid ones. We do have some potential referrals, so those will be great. It's always better to teach people that you know want to listen to you, and not just listen to you cause you're tall, white, and have blue eyes. But you can never tell if a person is elect until you teach them, so we teach anyone who is willing to listen. Well Manny Pacquiao won his fight yesterday. Apparently it was a really close one. It's amazing what happens to this place when that man is fighting! It's a great excuse for everyone to get drunk earlier! Oh well, not even Pacman can stop the work from progressing. All right, I suppose that is all for me this week. You all sound busy this week with the new carpet and painting and everything. Hope it turns out all right. Love you all and am grateful for all your prayers and everything else on my behalf. Love, Greg

Monday, November 7, 2011

Wow Mom, I'm impressed! You are really on top of things! I just hope I
remembered everything I wanted! If not, then oh well. I'll live haha.
Things sound cold there. Yikes. Good thing I get home in July. I get
cold here just when it rains, and even then it's still like 70
degrees! How was Halloween for you all? You should send me some
pictures of the little chillins all dressed up in their costumes. So
things have gone pretty well this week I suppose. We had 2 baptisms!
Those are always awesome! We completed 2 part member families. This
week I almost felt more like a psychiatrist rather than a missionary!
It seemed like everywhere we went, all the members and investigators
and problems and they would just tell me all about their problems and
then asked me what they should do! People really look up to the
missionaries here, even though we are just 20 year old kids. It
definitely has helped me mature and grow, and also remember how
important this calling is, and that even though I'm just a 20 year old
kid, I can do miracles if the Lord requires it. It was nice this week
not having to ride a bus to get home and being able to work longer and
get to more people. On Saturday we helped a member dig the foundations
for his house. I thought I knew how to dig back home, but here it is
probably 3 times harder! The dirt here is so thick and sticky and
heavy. You go two inches into the ground and all you're digging is
straight clay! I don't know how they do it all day! Filipinos have
amazing endurance. Anyway, so like I said things are going well. We'll
get transfer announcements tomorrow, and my companion, Elder Groves,
is probably transferring and so I'll have a new companion. Lets hope I
like him cause it's just gonna be us two in the house haha. It's been
very rainy this week. I have had a hard time keeping my shoes dry! I
rotate them everyday usually, so once the one pair gets soaked I have
to put it in front of the electric fan all the next day and hope they
are dry before I have to use them again! Drying clothes is a challenge
as well, but we make do. We still don't have a stove in our apartment
so we've been cooking with charcoal, just like real Filipino's! We had
to drop one of the investigator families we were teaching because they
just would not progress! It was sad, but that's life as a missionary.
The parents just wanted their kid to join the Church so he would be a
good kid, but they don't want to change themselves. The parents are
Catholic (so they say, but here loads of people say they are Catholic
but never go to church or even know what their own doctrine or
teachings are) and they said they aren't going to join the "Mormons"
church.  I told her, "Sister, this isn't the "Mormons" church, this is
the Church of Jesus Christ." She just kinda went quiet and then said,
Well I'm content in the Catholic church." And that was that. So we're
just working on finding new investigators and really help this area
progress. We had 90 people at church yesterday, which was really good.
Usually we range from 60-80. Hopefully that number will just keep
going up! The Church has only been in the Philippines for 50 years, so
all the processes don't work as well as they should, but they're
getting there. This branch could be a ward right now if they just had
more members paying a full-tithe. Tithing is really hard for them here
because one, they're really poor. And two, because they live day to
day here. A lot of them have never heard of the concept of saving
money. They just live off their daily income. Members that have been
in the Church are better at it than newer ones, but everyone is
learning. Yesterday in Elders' quorum the teacher asked the question,
"Why is it important to teach the gospel?" I looked around at every
single person in the room (about 20) and saw that all of them are
converts. None of them were born into the Church. If no one had taught
the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I'm afraid just Elder Groves and I would
have been at Church. Really helped me see how great a work this is,
and even if I don't see the immediate fruits of my labors, they will
come eventually. I learn so much everyday, I love it! Well family, I
suppose that is it for me this week. Love you all and am grateful for
everything! Love, Elder Andersen

Monday, October 31, 2011

Hello everyone, and Happy Halloween! this week has been all right. We didn't get to work a lot due to meetings, and we transferred houses and just a lot of other things. We're struggling with our investigators a little bit, in trying to get them to commit themselves to living the gospel. Again, the problem is the parents don't want to change and the children do. If the parents keep that up we're going to have to drop them and find people that do want to change their lives instead of spending a lot of time making people elect, rather than finding elect people right off the bat. We did get a referral this week though. We talked to the dad and he was super nice. The mom of the family wasn't there, so we set up an appointment for this week, and we are constantly talking to other people we meet as we walk places, etc.. We had our zone conference this week. It was pretty good. It's always a good thing to receive more training and mold yourself into a better missionary. President Tobias wasn't able to speak to us because he had an emergency, so that was a little disappointing, but it's all right. This week we also moved into our actual area! We've been going home to Manapla, which is about a 15-20 ride from Caduha-an. Unless there is traffic due to construction. One time we waited for over an hour. It was a real hassle to not live in our area, so we were happy to move to our area! Our house is pretty nice. It even has a working shower! Thats only my second one on the whole mission! The only problem is we don't have anything else haha. They left us with our beds, desks, a fridge, and a rice cooker. So today we went and bought a lot of the other stuff we needed (they'll reimburse us) and then they'll bring stuff hopefully later this week that we need, like a stove and and iron. We're getting along all right though. You'd be surprised what you can cook in a rice cooker! I didn't know those things even existed until I got here. So hopefully this move will help the work move along here. Now we can work in the morning, and later into the night as well. Although it is a little more boring with only 2 of us in the house now. I don't know if I told you what they do for "Halloween" here. Here it's called All souls day, and all saints day. Technically it's a Catholic holiday, but pretty much everyone participates in it. The Catholics go to the cemeteries and light candles and say prayers of sorts or something and then leave food offerings on the graves and stuff like that. Members of the Church just visit the graves of their loved ones and leave flowers and things. The best part is though, everyone cooks all this amazing food and invites you to come over and eat it! That's tomorrow, and I can't count how many members told us to stop by their house and eat! We're excited for it. Sad to say there's not really anything you can do to help Monique. There would be no way to transfer money, and I'm not even allowed to do stuff like that.. It's sad, but that is life here. I've decided if I ever get rich one day I'm going to come here and help people whose lives could be changed with just a simple surgery such as cleft palette/lip and things like that. Christmas package huh. Hmm all right well I've been thinking about it. I would really like some new socks. Mine are nearly a year and a half old by now and have about had it, and socks here are not good quality. I don't need anything fancy, just some black socks. I would also like some deodorant from America. Old spice as usual. Some tooth whitening stuff would be great so I can get those pearly off whites to change to pearly whites! I could really use a good jump rope so I can exercise in the morning and not get fat. And I think it would be neat if you guys could send me some things that I could give away to people. You know, little dinky things like key chains, and whatever. Nothing fancy or expensive. I just want to give them something. Other than that I can't think of anything, unless Mom wants to throw in some of her famous candy and other Christmas treats. Christmas is my favorite holiday! All righty, well that's all for me this week. Want you all to know I love you, the Church is true, and this is the best decision I have ever made. Love, Elder Andersen

Monday, October 24, 2011

Hello Family, friends? Fans? Sounds like you all have been having lots of fun with those little chillins! It's a bummer I'm probably not the favorite uncle anymore, seeing as I don't even know some of them very well at all! It's all right, when I get back I'll become the favorite again. I'm glad Lara did well and is choosing to run again. Cross country was probably one of the better decisions I made in high school. I had a lot of good friends and learned a lot and had a lot of fun. Well things haven't been as rainy this week. It's pretty much just back to normal weather here now. The work is going well. We are teaching several families, and they are doing well. The problem is, they wanted to listen to us so that their kids would change. They have problems with their teenagers and stuff and so they want us to teach them so that they will change their lives and become good kids. We explained to them that they as parents need to set the example for them and change as well. Change isn't as easy for older people I think, but they'll come around :) The preaching of the word of God, after all, has a more powerful affect upon people than the sword, or anything else. They also have some really good fellowshippers, so it's only a matter of time. It has been really neat though. A mother from one of the family's we are teaching has already given us two referrals! The work is so much easier for us when you teach people that really have an interest to listen! So that has been really good. We're continually trying to find new investigators and new people to teach, reactivate members, get active members to qualify themselves to go to the temple, etc.. The list goes on and on. I love my job! Probably the best one I'll ever have! I wish you all could experience what living in the Philippines is like. It's really just a wonderful place. Last night we rode home on a 40 ton sugarcane truck! We were just standing there waiting for a bus, but this truck came and stopped and told us to get in, so we did! Just another experience to add to the list! It's kinda bad though cause things don't even phase me anymore cause I'm so used to it. The other day we just saw all these guys driving around on mopeds in the middle of nowhere, and each one of them had an m16 strapped to them. Apparently they were chasing some guys through the sugarcane that had just robbed a bunch of people. Pretty much just an everyday thing here. Ok mother, I'll have a list of stuff I want for Christmas next week. Can you wait that long? Well I suppose that is all for me this week. Thanks to you all for your love, prayers, and thoughtfulness on my behalf. Love you all. Love, Elder Andersen             Oh, P.S. I decided to send a few pictures. The first one is just the four of us in our house right now. Four 'Canos! Well, 3 'Canos and one Austrailian. But we're all white. The second one is a picture of Monique. She's a members daughter, and is super cute. She has a congenital cataract and will go blind unless it is removed. But, of course the family doesn't have enough money to get that surgery done. It's one of the saddest things I've seen here. The sad thing is, this is everyday life for the people here. I don't send things like this to make you all feel sad, but to help you realized how blessed we all are for living where we do and for everything we enjoy. It has definitely opened my eyes. The third is a picture of us at stake conference. It's just a lot of members from the branch I'm serving in right now. All right, well now I'm done. Love you all!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Hello everyone. Sounds like you are all having a great time doing
everything you are doing! Is it getting cold there now? Still super
hot here as always! Well actually this week there was supposed to be a
big baguio come and hit us, but it went across our island without
raining a single drop! It was a signal one storm, and hit mindanao,
cebu, and was supposed to dump here on negros, but just crossed it and
dumped on panay instead. I guess you could say we lucked out, but I
really want to experience one. Not a bad one, but a signal one isn't
that bad, just a lot of rain. Other than that things have been going
well. Our investigators are doing well, and we are finding more people
to listen to us. Pretty exciting. Oh we had stake conference on Sunday
and that was good. The 2nd counselor of the Cebu temple came and
spoke, it was pretty neat. I don't know why, but everyone that spoke,
spoke in English. I mean, I know the Church really encourages people
to study English, I just think realistically they should speak in a
mix of English and Illongo so that people actually understand the
message they are trying to deliver to. It's not right that only people
that can understand English should benefit. Oh well, at least they
could still feel the spirit. As far as work, well we just keep on
keepin on! I don't have any investigators specifically to talk about
right now cause none have gone to church the past 2 weeks cause it was
way far away. So hopefully they exercise their faith and come to
church this sunday! It's always frustrating when investigators don't
keep their commitments. But things are going well, and I'm excited for
our investigators and the work in general. I guess I'll tell a quick
story. Earlier today we were eating at this place and the owner came
and talked to us and was just talking about the Philippines and the
Filipino people, and he was telling us how hard it is for Filipinos to
get to America cause he's been trying for 20 years or something.
Anyway, he was telling us how the Philippines is kind of a joke and
how unorganized and there is no unity. He said only 7% of the
population controls the whole nation and that is why it is such a
mess. He was like. "there are 90 million people in the Philippines and
only 7% percent is in control!" Really, he's right. I love this
country, but it is really sad to see some of the things that happen to
it. The rich people run everything and there are few rich. Nothing
benefits the poor. The rich only get more wealthy, while the poor
remain in poverty. If you want to get anywhere in this country you
have to be educated, but they can't become educated because they have
no money to do so! Everyone is just stuck in a cycle. That is exactly
what this man was saying. He said that the Philippines should be like
a state of the U.S. like Guam, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico. He said back
in the day, most of the people wanted that, but this one guy, Manuel
Quezon, said, "I would rather have a country run like hell by
Filipinos than a country run like heaven by Americans." And the man
talking to us said that this is exactly what has happened to the
country. It was a really interesting conversation. I still love this
country, and always will. So, things are going well. I'm becoming a
pro at climbing coconut trees, cause we have about 5 of them at our
house and I always climb up and get 'em. They are way tasty! Real
bummer that we don't have them in America! Sorry I don't have a really
exciting email for you all! I'll try to repent and do better next
time! Welp, love you all! Love, Elder Andersen

Monday, October 10, 2011

Hello family! Well this week has been a pretty good one. We watched general conference this week, and it was awesome! It strengthens my testimony every time that Jesus Christ is at the head of this church and guides us through living prophets and apostles. Their messages are truly inspired and I have learned so much. I was a little shocked to see how old Robert D. Hales and Richard G. Scott have gotten though. I can't believe President Monson has been an apostle for 48 years now! Holy cow! Time flies when you're doing the Lord's work, I can testify of that. Well our investigators are doing well, except none of them came to general conference. Real bummer. We are so blessed in America to watch it in our homes, or even just go to a close by church to watch it. Here the stake borders are large, and from the farthest point in the stake it takes a good hour by bus to get to the stake center, and a large amount of money to pay if you have a family. If it's just one person, it's not too bad, but still a good sum of money for these people. I am touched by the faith of the members here, and all their sacrifices they make to spread the gospel and live the gospel. There are times when it makes me sick with how blessed I am in my life. I had to fight back tears the other night when we visited our elders quorum president because of the condition of his home. It's made of some 1/8 inch plywood, rusted metal, bamboo, and some random other materials to make what we would call a shack and probably would demolish the thing. But it is their home. It was raining hard, and water was pouring in through the "roof", which is no more than rusty 1/4 inch sheets of metal with large holes, allowing water to pour in. The back wall of the house is pretty much just styrofaom and some kind of fabric, so the house behind can't see in. But no matter how bad their situation is, they are happy and full of faith. When it started raining he just kind of laughed and said, "Sorry Elders my house is a little bit broken. I've been meaning to fix it, but we don't have the money yet." Then he continued to talk to us about what he had read in a church book earlier during his lunch break. It was about Joseph F. Smith when those ruffians were coming through and said they would kill any Mormon. Well you know the rest of the story. Anyway, brother commented something like this," The early members of the church had some pretty rough trials didn't they?" and here he is with rain pouring into his house that is falling apart and his wife and 3 little kids. My heart always breaks with people like that. The Requirons are kind of the same. Their house is just really tiny though, it doesn't leak water. But there are 5 of them in a room about the size of our entry room. I always just want to like drop money or something when I meet such people. They help strengthen my testimony and want to work harder, and to be grateful for all the blessings I enjoy in my life. Also this week I found out that zombies are real! And I'm not joking! We were at a members house and she was telling us about where she grew up. She grew up on panay (the island next to us), and lived in a place a 14 hour walk to the closest city. No cars, motorcycles, or anything else could get in there cause it is so mountainous. So you had to walk. Anyway, she said no one owned the land, they just lived off the land and enjoyed their lives. It actually sounded a lot like the law of consecration until she told us about the zombies. She was just explaining the life of people and then she was talking about when people die and then they come alive again. And I was like, wait what?? And she was like, "yeah, they died and then then get up again and are alive, but not at the same time." So I continued to ask her about these things and she said that when people die, they would mourn for them, and then they would get up and walk out of the house and then just continue to walk around for however long. They can't bend their arms or legs or anything, and nothing can "kill" them except water. I didn't think she was serious, but she was! She said they won't hurt you if they know you, but if they don't know you they will chase you and kill you and eat your nose and ears. She said they can't talk but make noises. If someone killed them, they will get revenge on the person. If they just died a natural death, they just walk around for however long I guess. She said sometimes they are like "alive" for more than a year. They only eat these certain weed things, and when they are hungry they can't talk, so they just come up to the door and scratch on it and make these really creepy noises. I asked her what happened if you didn't give them food, and she was just like, "you always give them food." I asked her how/why that happened when people died, and she said it's because they didn't have a church there, believe in God, or even know who he is really. She was converted when she went to Manila for work as a teenager. It was way weird. I never thought zombies were real, but they are! She was like, "Why are you so curious about them, don't they have them in America?", and I was like, "Umm, no way!" and she was like, "But I always see them on t.v. so I just thought they had them everywhere." Haha. So yeah, zombies are real. Well I guess that is it for me this week! Thank you all for your thoughts and love and everything else! Love you all! Love, Elder Andersen

Monday, October 3, 2011

Hey Fam. It's me again! So I'll be staying here in Caduha-an again with Elder Groves.   almost no one in our zone of 16 missionaries left except for the other missionary in our apartment and one in Cadiz. The new missionary in our apartment is Elder Newman, from Australia. We went bowling, played pool earlier, and had some really expensive dinner (200 pesos or $4.55), it was pretty fun. Also good news: we may have found a house to rent in Caduha-an. The owner is an inactive member who's coming back to Church, and he wants to move his family out closer to his relatives. The main reason is that they have a 7 year-old daughter who basically grew up with her cousins and aunts and uncles out there because her mom worked out of the country. So the girl goes home from school with her cousins, and when her parents come to pick her up she refuses to come home because all her friends are out there. As in, there are week stretches where she never goes home, which is understandably sad for her mom who just wants to spend time with her daughter. So everyone wins: they build a house out there and live with their relatives in the meantime, and we get to live inside our area, which would be a great help to our work.
No general conference for us this week, the Philippines is on a one week delay for conference so we're getting ready for conference this week, inviting everyone we can to come hear the words of the living prophets. So the best news from last week is the baptism of the Requiron family. Well, the baptisms of the two parents, the daughter will be baptized in a few weeks. She was all ready and waiting, we were going to baptize her father first, then her mother, and then her, but the second Elder Groves immersed the dad the poor girl starts screaming: she thought he was gonna drown. The reason being that, even though these people are surrounded by water, not many people except the rich and the fishermen are comfortable around water. So this little girl thought Elder was drowning her dad and she was next. She sprinted into the bathroom and even with the entire attendance trying to calm her down, she wouldn't have it. So we'll have her father do it in a few weeks (general conference and stake conference take up the next couple of weekends), and explain to her that she won't drown. The whole thing was a lesson about teaching to people's needs and adapting the lesson to everyone, not just the parents. (That girl had quite a pair of lungs. Elder Groves was standing in the font still, trying to figure out what to do, and I walked over and leaned on the glass barrier. Elder Groves looked up and asked me, "Can I ask if the Spirit's gone?" "It might be." But He came back when the parents bore their testimonies after they had come back in).So this week also had a weird coincidence, we were working near the branch president's house, and we stopped by a part-member family. The member working with us (son of the branch president, and a returned missionary) and the guy knew each other pretty well and were chatting. He wasks the wife where she's from, and she says "Pandanan." I perked up a bit and asked, "Pandanan near Himoga-an Baybay?" we kept talking, and it turns out that her parents were his next door neighbors in my 2nd area! And not just that, her parents joined the Church a couple of years ago, after she'd moved out. A really weird coincidence, considering these two families are way far away from each other, and live in some really back country, middle-of-nowhere places. But they are listening and hopefully she will be baptized too! Ok well gotta go! Love ya all! Elder Andersen

Monday, September 26, 2011

Hey all, This week has been pretty good. Our work has improved, and we have more investigators, and things are going pretty smoothly. The best part of the week, is that our investigators, the Requirons, had successful baptismal interviews and will be baptized this saturday! We're pretty excited for that. They are so full of faith and amaze me by their example and make me want to be a better person. They have had so much opposition from other people telling them all sorts of lies about the church and other things, but they didn't listen to them because they fear God more than man. Something I envy, and am constantly trying to work on.  We just went out this week doing our best to talk to people, and be happy and positive no matter what happened. And things turned out pretty well. We taught this family that are actually former investigators. The husband of the family is actually half cuban. He lived in America for twelve years, but then he got deported and so now lives here. He said he was not a very good guy back in America. He got into drugs and stuff, eventually getting beaten up by a Mexican with a baseball bat, and thrown into prison for two years. I found it funny, that although he was in America for twelve years, he still couldn't really speak English very well. How does that work? He said he misses the food in America. McDonalds, Burger King, Denny's, etc.. We could relate with him on that one. So we're hoping for the best with them, that they will progress. We also taught this 21 year old guy who is a part member. His mom is one of the pioneers of this branch, but is inactive, and has been for who knows how long. All because she married a nonmember. Time and time again that is the reason I see here for people going inactive. Because they marry those who are not of our faith, and then what? Their life is ruined. They slowly go inactive and rarely come back. They can't receive the ordinances of the temple, and therefore, cannot have eternal families. One of the sadder things I see here. We talked to the stake president here about really grinding that into the youth, that they need to marry members if they want to experience the blessings of an eternal family. The problem here is that usually even the leaders' families are just like that. All of the stake president's siblings are inactive. His father, a former stake president is inactive. But anyway, we talked to a lot of other people this week that we weren't able to teach, but will go back to this next week. Transfer announcements are tomorrow. I probably won't transfer since I just got here, but my companion might. We'll see what happens. We're hearing Christmas music here now. After all, it is September! Today we went bowling! I don't know why, but for some reason in little Manapla, they have this big resort place that has a bowling alley in it! The electronic score wasn't working so we had to just write it on a paper. We only had to pay about $4 for an hour, and got through about 4 games. I broke 100 every game except for the last one(I was bowling right handed, behind my back, through my legs, etc..) I think my high score was only like 125 or something. But hey not too bad for not having bowled for over a year! It was pretty fun.It's really rainy now. There are low pressure systems and a baguio rollin in, so yeah. Lots of rain! If you can't have a white Christmas, might as well have a wet one! Well I hope you are all enjoying yourselves at family reunions and baby blessings and everything else! You should just make a giant cardboard cutout of me and take it with you everywhere so it's just like I'm there! All right, well I suppose I better get going now, duty calls. But I love you all and thank you for the prayers, concern, love, and everything else on my behalf. The Church is true. Love, Greg

Monday, September 19, 2011

family! Well this week has been about the same as last week, but things continue to improve. Our investigators, although few in number, are doing great! I guess I should say progressing investigators. We teach lots of people, but there are a lot that don't progress at all, or just don't want us to come back. So thats that. The Lord himself in D&C said, "For mine elect hear my voice and harden not their hearts." Lots of people harden their hearts, but I know the Lord is constantly preparing people for us, we just have to find them. But everything is going well. Hard to believe how fast the time flies here. It feels like just a couple of days ago I was sitting here emailing you all. Anyway, we had planned on going bowling today, but that was a no go, we  were busy most of the day cleaning the apartment, and it was needed for sure.Especially in the bathroom, but that wasn't completely our fault, Ithink a cat peed in there.I guess I'll explain how a cat got into the house to pee in the bathroom. And really, it can all be blamed on dried fish. Disgusting, rank, dried fish. People here seem to think it's delicious, but even after eating it time and time again it I'm not so sure. Give me dog any day over that stuff!  But the whole story is that Elder Anac and Elder Lloyd (The other two elders in our apartment) brought home some of the stuff, and left in in the kitchen. We came back home later that night, and one of them was passed out on the couch and the other on a woven mat on the floor (guess which one the Filipino was on). We don't want to bother them, so we leave them there, finish our stuff, and go into the bedroom. We're woken up at around midnight to banging sounds from the kitchen, so we go to see what's up. We find that a cat had managed to sneak by them when they were sleeping, and had been munching on some dried fish (after a trip to the bathroom, I guess). They chased it for a bit, until it got stuck between the glass shutter/windows and the screen, and it doesn't want to leave. So we spend half an hour trying to chase it out, but when it finally does it flees to the top of the cabinets. So I  mentioned how animal control people use those poles with the rope, (all those good times spent watching the exterminator show on t.v) so we decide to try that. We get a loop over its head, and Elder Anac gets on the other end and drags it outside. He ties the other end of the rope to the security bars over our windows, and wecall it a night. But that's not the end of the story, because I heard a weird sound a few minutes later when I in the bathroom: the sound of rushing water. We go to investigate, and we see that somehow the cat managed to wrap his rope around a water spigot and break a water line, and now he's wet and even angrier. We cut him loose, promise to kill him the next time we see him, and spend another half hour trying to stop the leak. We got it stopped most of the way, but ended up just killing the water to the house for the night. And that's the story of
the cat in the apartment. A quick story about the importance of continuing our learning in the Church. We were working with some investigators, and we were teaching them the Law of Chastity. During the lesson, one of the principles we teach is that homosexuality is a great sin in God's eyes. At the end of the lesson, none of the investigators had any questions but one of the members that had come with us did. She asked for confirmation that homosexuality is a sin, which honestly concerned us a bit. She explained that she'd never learned that (it's really commonly accepted here), and that it was a good thing she learned it now. She said that her plan was to dress her youngest son in girl's clothes and try and make him gay, because she wanted a little girl but only had boys. So we explained to her that it would be best to avoid that. No matter how many years we've attended church of read the scriptures, there's always something new to learn. So our investigators are still doing well. Especially the Requirons, we're still waiting for the four church attendance limit to roll around for them to be baptized, they had no problems with the Word of Wisdom or the Law of Chastity which speeds things up. I'll put a little thing here about the requirements for baptism here in the Philippines. The requirements given to us by the area presidency is that investigators need to come to church four consecutive weeks (one week missed is excusable, but four total, and the count starts again if two weeks are missed in a
row)., they need to be free from any problems with the Word of Wisdom for four weeks (one brief slip-up is also permitted), they need to be free from problems with the Law of Chastity for four weeks (especially living in without being married, also a big problem here, but with a
good explanation), fast once before baptism (a struggle for a lot of people) and pay a fast offering, and a couple others. The requirements here for baptism are slightly stricter than other places, but it ensures that converts are truly converted, not just temporally or
temporarily converted. The reason living in is a problem here is because there's no divorce in the Philippines. Once you marry someone, it's for life, except under very exceptional circumstances. So a lot of people either shy away from marriage because it's such a
long-term commitment or have been married previously, separated, and are now living with someone else. So this is a problem, except for people that are married not just for life but all eternity and have an eternal perspective on marriage. So yeah. I suppose that is it for me for this week. But I know the Church is true and we should never be too comfortable with our current situations. If you're not growing, you're stagnant. Something none of us should be. Again, and as always, thanks for all the love and support. Love you all, Greg

Monday, September 12, 2011

Kamusta pamilya ko. This week was........... difficult I guess you could say. Something of an emotional roller coaster really. We had some really good things happen, but also some not so good things happen. The Reqirons are still doing great, and I really love teaching them. We also have some other new investigators that are all right too, but it's hard to tell after just one lesson. Well you know brother Noel Tulipaz I told you about? Well he is refusing to listen to us right now cause his wife won't buy him cigarettes. He doesn't have any work right now, cause right now is the really poor season, the locals call it tigporaot. It just means like extreme poverty. They call it that during this time cause there is no work in the sugar cane fields. No planting and no harvesting for a couple months. It's really hard on the people who just work in them and nothing else. So anyway, Sister Tulipaz has been the one earning the money for the family by washing clothes and other things like that, and she talked to him and told him they didn't have enough money to keep buying him cigarettes, so he got upset and won't listen to us now. We figured out he was kind of just listening to us to get what he wants, cause he knows his wife wants him to become a member so bad, so yeah, he won't listen to us. But he has a really good fellowshipper that I am confident can really bring him around and humble himself. So hopefully, if not this week, sometime, we can start teaching him again. The other disappointments are from pretty much everyone else we have taught. We had a lot of people express sincere interest in listening to us and everything, but because of negative comments of other people they said they don't want us to come back. One of the ones that hurt the most was this one family we taught. The Spirit was way strong and it was a really good lesson. The mom and the daughter had listened to us a couple times when we taught the Reqirons, and we gave the daughter a Book of Mormon. Finally the dad consented to let us teach them, and we did and had a great lesson. The daughter had already read up to Words of Mormon! Then the dads extended family, who are all very "die hard" Catholics came and talked to him and said a bunch of untrue stuff about the Church and us, (the same person actually who told the Reqirons we were gold hunters) and discouraged them from listening. The mom and the daughter still listen, but the dad won't let them come to church.. But the wife said he reads the Book of Mormon and said when we taught them he couldn't understand what he was feeling. So we are praying his heart will be softened and will again listen to us no matter what people say to them, just like the Reqirons. There were more disappointments too. There is this one place with tons of members, inactive, and active. Lots of part member families etc.. you think the place would be a gold mine. But it's not. It's like a diamond mine. In the sense that it is the hardest mineral in the world. All the part members hide when we come, the inactives just say they don't have time and don't really care. It is definitely true in the Book of Mormon where it says that after people receive the gospel and then go inactive, they become more hardened and it would be better for them that they had never known these things. So yeah kind of a bummer. But don't get me wrong I love the work! We had 7 investigators at church! That was awesome! And in the mission, even though there are disappointments in other people, you're not disappointed in yourself if you know you did everything you could. Of course you feel way sad for the people who just choose not to listen to you and everything, but that's the way it has to be. So this next week we're just going to do our best to really find some different places to focus, and find the people the Lord is preparing for us to find. It'll be like a treasure hunt! uh....... haha. Sorry I didn't really comment about you folks this week. I'll try to do better. Forgive me? Well I love you all and truly appreciate all you do for me. If it weren't for all you guys I probably wouldn't be here! Ok, welp, better go! Love you! Love, Elder Andersen

Monday, September 5, 2011

Hey there family. Well sounds like you all have had a good week. Well all you who I actually heard about. Which isn't very many, so I'll just assume the rest of you are great as well. I'm glad Lara decided to do cross country. I'm sure she'll like it. I wasn't very good until my senior year, but I still liked it. I wasn't even that good my senior year actually haha. Ah, coach Snell is still there? Thats good, he's a really good guy, I like him a lot. Tell him hello for me. This week has been a good one for me as well. I really love our investigators and look forward to teaching and finding new ones each day, and I can't think of a cooler place to do it than here! The Reqiron family I told you about last week is still doing great, although we're not sure when they can be baptized cause brother needs to be interviewed by President Tobias because of some past issues, but other than that they are doing great, and have great faith. They walked a good 2 1/2 miles to church yesterday, even with their little kids. They are the kind of people you know won't go inactive. This week while we were teaching them we asked them if they had any questions, and we could tell they wanted to ask one but were kinda shy, but we finally got it out of them. They said they were talking to some of their neighbors and they told them that we are here in the Philippines looking for treasure hahaha. I just busted up laughing. I don't know why, but I have actually heard that a lot. For some reason people think the "Mormons" are here looking for secret treasure! I guess it's kinda the same thing that we all have horns and stuff like that. It's just funny though. We are also teaching this guy named Noel Tulipaz, and his son, who is 9. His wife, Sister Tulipaz, is a very active member, and actually referred the Reqirons to us. So one day we were at her house, and I started talking to brother and asked if we could teach him. He said ok, and we've been teaching him since. He is really good and has a real desire to be with his family forever. I feel like he is one of those people that has always had an interest in the church/ wants to become a member, they just need an invitation. He is doing great as well. He just has a problem with smoking cigarettes, but he can stop that. Anybody can. When I was back in Kabankalan we taught a guy the word of wisdom, and he was smoking 20 sticks a day. We went back 2 days later and he was down to 1 stick a day! It's amazing what faith can do! We're also teaching some other part member families and other people too and they're doing all right. I'm really enjoying my time here and trying to make the most of it. It's September already! Today was fun, we went to this part in our area, and it's right next to the beach. It was way pretty and we just went exploring for a good 3 miles or so. Really pretty. I'll try and send some of the pictures. All right well thanks for all the love, prayers, and everything else. Love you all. Love, Greg

Monday, August 29, 2011

Well sounds like you all have been getting some pretty intense weather! Sounds like here! The weather here this past week has been either really rainy/windy/stormy or just super hot. Today it's just super hot. Tomorrow it'll probably be pouring rain. Who knows. Well this week has been really good! To start off with I guess, Mom, your prediction about me going to the Philippines and eating dog was correct. I ate dog this week! And I have to admit it was pretty delicious! His name was Mateo. Anyway, we also had a successful baptism and confirmation this week! Brother Romeo Alvez. He's been coming to church for over a year now, and all the rest of his family are members, but he couldn't kick his cigarettes. Well, he finally did, and so he was able to be baptized. He was really happy to finally be a member along with the rest of their family. It was their dog that we ate, I guess in celebration for his baptism or something. Our other investigators are doing well. Especially the Reqiron family. They are some of the nicest people I have ever met I think. They are very simple people, but they are so willing to accept the gospel. They never have a problem with anything that we teach them, and they keep their commitments that we give them. It's always so much better to teach people that are truly prepared, instead of just trying to get people to listen to you. Our main focus right now is working with part member families, and unordained male members etc. That is the revelation President Tobias has given us. Rather than spending time tracting (basically wasting time) Look for the part member families on the CMIS and in the process we can find lots of people to talk to and therefore have many more investigators. It also helps the units organize their records much better. But that's not the whole reason for it. It's mostly so we can talk to all these people and get new investigators without having to go "tracting" So we have quite a few part member families we are teaching. Also a few of the members have really been helping us out with the work,and giving us referrals and other things. It's amazing how much of a difference they make! So I'm attatching a few pictures for you all. These are all of the baptism of brother alvez. So we have the Alvez family first, then Brother Alvez with Elder Groves and I, and then we have a big group picture of all of us at the baptism. I'll send some more of mateo. and also this week we saw some guy chopping up a karabaw that had died, so I took a picture of that as well. One cool thing we do here is we take showers from the rain pouring off the roof of the house. It's almost like a real shower! All right, well I guess that is all for me this week. Thanks for all your love, and everything else. Love, Elder Andersen 

 These are just a couple of me showering in the rain, and then one with the Elders quorum president and his family. All right guess thats it. Love ya!

  Well the first two are the ones of the karabaw getting cut up. CAUTION: NOT FOR THE WEAK STOMACHED. The next one is Mateo, the dog. Or I guess what was left of Mateo. The last one is one of Mateo before he got eaten!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Hey family. Mom, come on, you know I don't speak Spanish! I'll forgive you though. So yes! I did transfer! My new area is called Caduha-an. It's pretty much just a small place with nothing more than a small market a few churches, and then people that live there for some reason. Mostly for the sugar cane farming I think. Either that, or they just commute to bigger places to work. Anyway, it's a cool place I really like it. Kabankalan was a hard place for me to leave, I really came to love the people there. Transferring is always bitter sweet. Especially because you don't know if you will ever see those people again. But that is part of the mission experience. So yeah, my new companion is Elder Groves. He's from Petaluma, California. By the bay area. I like him and we get along well so that's good. We live in a house of 4 again. We actually live in a place called Manapla. It's pretty close to our area, we just ride a bus out there everyday. The work is going well. We are going to have a baptism next saturday! Also we got a referral this week, who are really good. We were teaching them and we gave them an invitation to be baptized, they accepted, then the father asked when they could be baptized! Pretty neat! I think there are six of them in the family, but only 3 of them are old enough to be baptized. So if everything goes according to plan they will be baptized on September 17th! We have some other investigators that are doing well too. Rain. Well pretty much every month out of the year is rainy season except may and june. Or April and May. I forget. But yeah, it rains a lot. And we work even if it rains. Sometimes we are wet for most the day. But other times we just wait in people's houses until it dies down a little bit, and then make a break for it. Yeah, there are less bugs when it rains. They have a hard time flying when that happens. My feet are fine. No, I don't have foot fungus. My shoes are ok. I just need to get some insoles for them and they'll be great. The little cushion pad thing is wearing out. But other than that, they are just fine. Uhh I can't just really answer your other questions. I don't really like sharing all my spiritual experiences with the world, ya know? Those are kinda just for me.. I do know corrine mosely. Not well, but I went to high school with her. So, I'm the only one out from the ward now huh? Coolio. Yeah, missions really do change people. There are a lot of things I didn't understand before I went on a mission, but now I realize a lot.. I'm not sure I'm gonna recognize anyone in the ward when I get back. Good thing I won't be going there long! All right, well I gotta go. I think I've answered the majority of your questions for the week. Thanks for all your love and support! Love, Elder Andersen

Monday, August 15, 2011

Hey family. Well shoot, sorry Mom I just don't what to say about how raspberries you have coming out of your ears! And just so you know you didn't ask me a single question! Thats cool that dad got a new motorcycle. What does it look like? And when you say old, how old do you mean? His other one was pretty ancient! I'm glad you had a good time in D.C. When I get home I'd like to go visit all my siblings, but I'm afraid I won't have the time or money, since I start school again a month after I get back! Things have been going well here. We got the news though that 2 missionaries here in Kabankalan are being pulled out, cause apparently the mission has a shortage of missionaries right now. Right now there are 4 of us assigned here, so there will only be two left, but we won't know until tomorrow who is transferring and who is staying. Our work this week was made a little difficult this week with the ridiculous amounts of rain we got. Some places were flooded. Not too bad, the worst I saw was about up to the knees. One of the members died this week and I was asked to speak at her funeral! Don't ask me why, cause I wasn't even particularly close to her, but I spoke nonetheless. She was only baptized about two months ago. And I'm not joking when I say she looked like she just came out of a concentration camp, but she still came to church every sunday even though she was sick. It was a nice service. Funerals here are a little different though. And then the "burial" isn't really a burial cause they don't put 'em in the ground, they just put them in a cement box. But yeah it was good. OK well I gotta go, thanks for all the love and everything else. Love, Greg

Monday, August 8, 2011

Hey family! Well this week has been all righty. I'm really enjoying the work here in Kabankalan and wouldn't mind staying another 6 weeks. Things are going well here and I'm excited about it. We've got some good investigators that are progressing towards baptism, and a lot of new ones that hopefully will get to that point as well. We're really trying to get the ward excited about doing missionary work/ retention and getting them to work with us etc.. I can't think of any awesome experiences cause I have them everyday and they all just kinda get mashed together! But I love this place, and I love the work. Yesterday we had a zone activity. We pretty much just played basketball for like 5 hours. I got fried! My upper arms and shoulders did really bad cause my white shirts come down to my elbow almost, so everything above that got burned crispy. It hurts a little bit but I'll pull through. I feel like my emails get shorter and shorter every week... Is there anything you guys wanna know about the mission or the Philippines or anything? All right well thanks for all the support, prayers, and everything else you do! Love you! Elder Andersen

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Hey Fam, what's crackin? This week has been a pretty busy one for us. We had zone conference, and we also had this Jubilee exhibit thing at the stake center explaining all about the church and everything, it was really cool. They gave tours and at the end we would answer people's questions and it was just really good. They said they had over 430 visitors attend throughout the week! It was a great way to find new people to teach! We got a referral from it that we taught yesterday and they are really good. Their daughter is actually a member, cause she married a member guy in Dubai, and they are visiting right now. Not that that has anything to do with anything. But they did say that they church has meeting houses now in UAE and Saudi Arabia and some other countries. But they said it's weird to see missionaries cause they obviously don't have those there in their wards. Anyway, so most of our time was taken up with our meetings and stuff. Our investigators are doing well and we should have some be baptized at the end of this month, and if not, in September. Time flies! In a couple of weeks from now I'll already have a couple of friends back from their missions. Crazy bus. It's been raining a lot here still cause of the Baguios. We're lucky here cause they don't really cause any damage, but up in Luzon, there's always people that die and their houses get destroyed and stuff. Things are going well though, and I'm enjoying the work. I got interviewed by President Tobias at zone conference, and he was like, "So half of your life is over here on the mission. Who is Elder Andersen today?" I just sat there for a few minutes and looked back at the past year, and everything I've experienced, how I've changed personally, and just everything. Before I know it, I'll be back home. But I know that the church is true, and I'm so grateful to have it in my life, and I've seen the power it has to change lives. So I guess that is it for me this week. Thanks for everything! Love you all! Oh and yes I did get my package this week. Thanks! Love Elder Andersen

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Well it's great to hear that I'm an aunt again! Hope all is going well with Kim and little Lucy Mae! Well this week has been pretty good. We had a specialized training for our district on saturday, and it was really good and I think is really going to help the work progress. Then this coming wednesday we will have zone conference. More training! So that'll be good. We're just continuing to hasten the work here. Also this next week we will have to go to Binalbagan to the stake center because they are doing a Jubilee exhibit for the stake all about how the church got started here in the Philippines. It's mostly for investigators and people who are not familiar with the church. We've been asked to attend so we can answer questions and things like that. Because of the Jubilee exhibit, we had a senior couple come to church with us yesterday from Manila, from the Church's public affairs department or something. They were here to help set up the exhibit and everything. It was a cool experience, because they don't speak Illongo, so I had to translate a lot for them, it was just weird cause I guess I never realized what a gift it is for me to know the language and I can just translate without even thinking about it. I hope sometime in the future I can be assigned in a Cebuano speaking area so that I can learn Cebuano as well. I'd also really like to learn Tagalog. The problem is, it's so much harder to learn if you don't hear people speaking it. Maybe I'll get a Filipino companion some time that can teach me Tagalog. So yeah, the work has been going well. We had one of our investigator families come to church so that was exciting! Hopefully our other ones come next week or we might have to drop them.. But anyway, things are going well. No, I haven't gotten my package yet, but hopefully this week. Hope you all have a great week and thanks for everything! Love you all!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Hello family. This week has been pretty good. I guess some interesting news is I survived a 6.2 magnitude earthquake this week. Before you freak out, let me explain. Yes, it was a 6.2, but nothing happened, nobody died, and everyone is just fine. Even peoples' little bamboo shacks didn't fall down. The worst damage I heard about was like peoples flower pots breaking and stuff. It was weird cause I've never felt one before. It woke us up at 4:50 in the morning, I kinda just sat up in bed and had to take it in for a few seconds to make sure it was real and not dreaming. But then my companion sat up too and was like, "What's going on" and I was like, "I think it's an earthquake." "Ok cool." And we went back to sleep. Or tried to, but it was hard cause there were all these after shocks that kept shaking our beds and keeping us awake. One of the missionaries in our house didnt' even wake up! I really don't know how. If it was a more serious earthquake and our house was falling down, he'd be a goner for sure. Anyway, the work here has been going pretty well. We've been able to go to a lot of people I haven't been able to go to yet, cause we split the area now and so that has been really helpful. We've found several investigators that are part member families. They are what President Tobias wants us to focus on. Part member families, and unordained males. So we've been working to find them, and see if we can help them receive the gospel/return to activity etc.. The weather has been a little crazy cause there are 2 baguios in the Philippines right now I think. So during the day it's super hot, but then around 5 or 6 it'll just pour rain for an hour or longer. We definitely got soaked this week on Wednesday. One of the ward members was working with us in this more mountainous area with rice fields and sugarcane fields, stuff like that, cause in that area there are about 300 members, and maybe 25 or so active. Anyway he had his 8 year old son with him, Nikko, and we were walking back towards civilization, and it started to rain. So we started walking really fast, cause when it rains here, it pours, and doesn't stop! So I scooped up Nikko in my arms and we all just started running in the rain, down this path that was basically just puddles and mud.We ran for a good mile before we got to Sister "Ping"s house. She is one of those members that is like a mother to the missionaries and she's awesome. She gave us some towels to dry off, and every time we come over she insists on feeding us. Her house is the one we ate snails at. She's a good cook. Then she cut up this pineapple, and Elder Aubrey and I ate the whole thing. The fruit here is amazing. I'm attaching a couple of pictures for you to see.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Hey fam. Well sounds like you guys are just having all sorts of fun and going on all sorts of vacations!  This week has been pretty good. Fist off, I have a new companion! His name is Elder Aubrey, and he's from Ogden. It's pretty cool cause I knew him back in the MTC he is the batch below me. So yeah. Also this week we got  two more missionaries to be assigned here in Kabankalan, which is good, cause this city is huge and it was really hard for just us two do to everything. It's really going to help the ward progress. So right now there are  6 of us in one house  so we're pretty squished! The other  2 are assigned in Oringao, which is a barangay of Kabankalan about  20 minutes away from here. They were supposed to be living there, but the owner of the house wanted more than they originally said, and so the office is still trying to negotiate with them. So in the mean time, it's sardines. Thats the biggest news from me. Other than that we've just been doing our work. Oh I saw my first monkey this week! He gave me a high five cause I gave him some fruit. I was kinda scared he was gonna claw my face off at first cause he was just hanging down from this chain on a tree, but it seemed pretty nice. Our church attendance was about 20 higher than last week, so that was great. It's nice to see some of the fruits of your efforts! Wowsers, this week I'll be hitting my year mark! It's gone by fast, and everybody tells me it just goes by faster and faster. Hopefully I will be sending you guys a small package with some things (like some letters I wrote forever ago and still haven't sent) along with some other things.  Ok, well thanks for all your prayers, cares, and everything else. Love you guys. Love, Elder Andersen

Monday, July 4, 2011

Hey Family! Well I am now officially 20 years old. We didn't do anything special on my birthday, cause we had work to do, but today we went to this place called mag-aso. You can tell what that is by the pictures. It was really cool! Don't worry we didn't go swimming! So this week has been good. I've had ups and downs. I guess thats just the way it is on a mission! We had a really cool experience this week. We were trying to find these members, so we asked people if they knew where they lived. We went to the house, and a guy came out and was just talking to us in English, which doesn't happen too often, well, I guess it doesn't happen too often that they can actually speak English instead of people saying things like, "Hey Joe! Where have you going?" Anyway, so this guy was way good at English (it was funny cause we spoke to him in Illongo, but he spoke to us in English) He wasn't a member, and didn't know who we were looking for, but he told us his son in law was an American. The son in law wasn't there, but his wife and two kids were. The kids can only speak English, cause they lived in America, they're only living here for like a year. So yeah, the wife is a Filipino, but she's lived in America for like 6 years so she speaks English like an American, and so does the whole fam damily! It was way weird. But they were really nice and fed us and everything. We gave the guy a pamphlet, and he also asked for a Book of Mormon, which we didn't have any English ones,so we gotta go back sometime and get him one. Usually Americans here that are married to Filipinas are like 60 and they're wives are like 25 cause they're gold diggers. But this guy volunteered for the peace corps, so he was here for 2 years as well, and can speak Illongo too. He seemed like a really cool guy. He works for the government as a financial analyst or something, and right now he's assigned in Afghanistan. But yeah, it was just a really cool experience. Our other investigators are doing ok as well. I mean we're constantly finding and dropping ones, but we have quite a few progressing. We had a really sad experience this week too. We received a referral from the Ilo-ilo mission of a part member family here in Kabankalan. We went and contacted them, the wife is a member but a long time inactive, and she has a husband and 2 kids. We taught them and it was just a really good lesson. The husband seemed to be eating it up. He even accepted a baptismal date. But the next time we went back, he told us he had thought about it and he's not going to leave the religion he grew up in (catholic). The dumb thing is he said he didn't even think the catholic church was true and that he didn't know which church was, but he said he doesn't believe a church can save you. So we explained everything about how the church is not just some other church, and that Jesus Christ himself is guiding it. And how its so easy to know. Just read one chapter in the Book of Mormon and ask God if it's true. But he wouldn't even do that. He just kept saying how he didn't want to change and everything. It hurt. It really did. He will be one of those people I see in the next life and go up to with tears in my eyes and say, "I tried. I did everything I could to help you, but you didn't listen." But you know, thats life. Thats Heavenly Fathers plan for us, and thats the way it's gotta be. So yeah, just a couple experiences from my week. We've done a lot of trying to work with part member families and unordained males, because thats what President Tobias wants. So things are going well, hard to believe I've been out almost a year now! When did that happen? All right, I gotta run, but thanks for all the birthday wishes and love! Love Elder Andersen.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Hello family. Well this week has been good. We've just been working hard and doing our best. We've been working a lot with unordained male members and part member families, because that is what President Tobias has instructed us to do. In Kabankalan ward there are 183 unordained males. Only 2 are active. Yikes! Our work is cut out for us! Hopefully this next transfer they send 2 more missionaries here so we can split the area and hasten the work here. One of the biggest problems here is that people get offended really easily by other members and things like that, and they don't understand that being offended is a choice. They also don't understand exactly what they promised when they were baptized. That is what we are trying to help them understand. The other big excuse is they don't have plete, or money for travel to get to the church. Sometimes its understandable because they have big families and they are poor and kind of far away from the church and they can't drag their little kids all through the hills to get to church, but there are a lot of them that they could walk, and their faith is just not strong enough. They don't understand the reason why we go to church. But the work is going well, and we are helping people understand these things. The best way is through the members. Any time we go to less active/inactive members we bring active members, or there is really no point in us going to them. They respond much better when they feel the members actually care about them and things like that. Usually every Sunday we go on splits with the members and go "home teaching" Home teaching is a little different here, and most people don't really know how to do it, but it's all right because now they are at least trying and learning. They have realized that the Lord has given them a chance to progress this area by giving them 2 more missionaries, and they are getting excited about the work now it's really awesome. There is an amazingly huge difference in the work when you have the help and participation of members, and when you don't. Anyway, things here are going well, and I'm enjoying the work. I think maybe when I get old and retire one day, I'll come live in the Philippines. I think I turn 20 this week. Thats old! I'm gonna look like the crypt keeper!! Well thats all for now. Love ya'll! Elder Andersen

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

 Just some funny signs. And that big old boa constrictor!

 Just a few pictures! Eating Snails!

Tried to go swimming, but there was no water in the pool!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Hello family! Another week has come and gone! Things went pretty well this week. Except I got a little sick and had to go to Bacolod yesterday so I could get a check up from the doctor so I could get the medicine I needed. But it's fine now, so no need to worry! I can't really think of anything to write about, cause this week we've just been doing a lot of visiting to members and teaching them how to share the gospel with their friends because we need more investigators, and everyone knows tracting is really not effective, so we've been really working with the members and trying to help them share the gospel and give us referrals. I did see some cool things this week and was going to send you pictures, but my card reader wont work so I'll just have to wait till next week. But I saw I giant boa constricor (I know you'll love that mom) and the pictures of snail we ate. And just some other pictures. Hmm this week we ate "Poorboy Soup" Which is a soup containing the reproductive parts of animals, usually cows. And I don't mean just the testicles. Yep. It really wasn't bad at all, it was pretty good as long as you didn't keep reminding yourself you were eating a cows penis. Our investigators are doing well, we're teaching a couple of families that are doing well, and it's always awesome to teach families. But one of our major focuses here is reactivation. There are 700 members in the Kabankalan ward, but only 92 came to church on sunday. So our work is cut out for us in that department. It's sad because we know that if they don't come back to the church, it would be better for them that they were never baptized. The problem here is most of them live out in far away places and it's hard for them to come to church, and so over time they just became lost, and some of them have even gone back to the Catholic church and stuff. It's a sad thing to see. Missionary work is some of the happiest work one could ever do, but at times it is also the saddest. But that's the plan and so that's how it's gotta be. Just gotta keep doing our best. Going to Bacolod yesterday was pretty cool. Makes me feel like I'm back in America almost. Eating at Pizza Hut, going to SM, seeing other white people, etc.. I guess that is all for this week. Thank you all for all your love and prayers. Love Elder Andersen