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