Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Hey family. I'm writing you this week from my new area- Kabankalan! I had to travel about 5 hours to get here cause it's pretty far down south, and I was as north as you could get in my last area. It's a pretty good sized city, so it's quite an adjustment coming from tiny little Himoga-an! But I really like it so far. My new companion is Elder Jensen from Bremerton Washington. I'm follow up training him. I like him a lot and we get along well and work well together. I think I've been assigned here to clean up a mess that the elder before me left.. He was here for 6 months, and there's been hardly any progress here for at least 6 months because of that. So we're doing our best to get the work going here! It's just weird to go from a tiny little branch that doesn't even have a chapel to meet in, to a big ward with about 500 members. The problem is only about 120 or so are active... thats one of the biggest problems here in the Philippines. People were baptized back in the day before they had higher standards and things and just became inactive right after they were baptized. Needless to say we do a lot of reactivation work here. Everyday I think of what serving a mission used to be like before they came out with Preach My Gospel and all these things. It's truly an inspired program. I know this email is short, but I've only been here since Wednesday so not a whole lot has happened. But thank you all for all your support and prayers and emails and everything, I really appreciate it and love you all! Elder Andersen

Monday, May 23, 2011

Hey Family. Well this week has been... challenging, but good. First off, our branch president, President Garcia, passed away last monday night. That was a major blow to the branch. It came a little bit of a shock to me as well, I mean he had been in the hospital for a few weeks, but it didn't seem too serious. I guess the Lord needed him on the other side. He was a really great guy, and even though I didn't know him for too long, about 4 months or so, I came to love him. So that was hard. But my testimony has grown in the knowledge in eternal families and that Heavenly Father has a plan for us all. It's really cool to see the difference here between when and LDS member dies, verses someone that is another religion. We spent a lot of time this week with his family, and doing our best to help them, and the branch. Now they basically have no leadership. We have a first counselor, but he has no idea what he is doing. So basically the former branch president is running things, under the authority of the 1st counselor, so for now the branch is ok. But it will be interesting to see what happens. To add with all that, this was probably my last week in Himoga-an. I've been here for 4 1/2 months of my life, and have been through a lot with these people and have come to love them. It'll be hard to leave, but also good. Every time I enter a new area I feel like I learn so much more. This week we did have some good things though. The Abria family was baptized! It was really good. It's a hard feeling to describe to teach people all the way through and see them baptized, but it really is such a good feeling to know that you helped a person find the truth and become that much closer to returning to our Father in Heaven. So hopefully next week I can send you all some pictures of it. Thank you all for your prayers and support on my behalf, I love you all! Love, Elder Andersen

Monday, May 16, 2011

Hey peeps. This week has been good, but really busy. We only got to work about 3 whole days this week due to training meetings and other things. We had our Jubilee Celebration here this week. It was really cool. Basically just the same sort of thing they had in Manila, cultural presentation and stuff. It was fun, we got to go all the way to Victorias riding this bus with our whole branch. We actually rode on top of the bus so we could get some "aircon" haha. I would actually much rather ride on top of a bus than inside it where my legs don't fit in the seats and it's about 200 degrees! But good news, the Abria family had successful baptismal interviews, and are going to be baptized this coming saturday! I'm pretty excited for it! I really don't have much to say about the work,since we didn't get to do much of that this week. But our trainings were good, we learned a lot on how to improve and things. Yes, it really is beautiful here. And yes, that is a fruit bat. It's not alive, but it was about 2 minutes before I took that picture! These guys were just killing em outside of our house with a pellet gun, so I asked what they do with them, and they said they eat them. They said they're really good cause all they eat is fruit, so I dunno. If I get to eat one sometime I'll let you know. Oh it has a hole in its wing cause they stabbed a stick through it to carry it. Ok, well Mom, I hope you enjoy your travels and have a safe trip! Tell pops hello for me, and sorry I didn't get to talk to him on the telephone. So things are going well here. Love you all. Love, Elder Andersen

Monday, May 2, 2011

Hey family, friends, and all you other people out there! And Happy 50th Anniversary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in the Philippines! And Happy Osama Bin Laden is Dead Day! This week has been a good, and busy one. We've just been teaching people and finding people, and doing missionary work! It's doing all right in our little branch. Except the branch is a little dysfunctional right now cause our president is recovering from his surgery, and the first counselor doesn't really know what he's doing, and we don't have a 2nd counselor, so we've had basically all the branch president's responsibilities shifted to us for a while, but it's ok. This week was also the jubilee celebration of 50 years of the church in the Philippines! Pretty cool! They had a big old cultural show thing in Manila. We were able to watch the broadcast. It was really neat. Then on Sunday, there was a nationwide stake conference satellite broadcast from Manila/ Salt Lake, and that was really good. Elder Michael John U. Teh of the Philippines area presidency spoke from Manila, then Sister Julie Beck, Elder Quention L. Cook, and President Boyd K. Packer spoke from Salt Lake. It was really good, and they said some really cool things. They talked about all the sacrifice the people have made here for the gospel. There are over 600,000 members in the Philippines. Elder Teh said that the Lord is going to hasten the work here in the next few years, in some pretty big ways. Kinda makes you wonder. Sister Beck talked about her visits here, and Elder Cook talked about his experiences and history here (he was in the Philippines area presidency for 3 years when he was a 70) and President Packer talked about all his experiences here as well. It was really neat. So yeah, thats how my life is going here right now! Don't worry, I'll call you sometime. Just make sure to answer the phone. OK well I guess thats all for now. You can get the "juicy" details in the phone call. Wow, has it really been 6 months since I talked to you last? Ok well I love you all. Love, Elder Gregory K. Andersen