Thursday, July 28, 2016

MTC Pictures

MTC Week 3

Hello everyone!
It has now been three weeks since my arrival date at the MTC, and I'm itching to get out of here and out into the field!  Yesterday, all of the Philippines missionaries who got here before us left, and it made me so jealous!  We also had FIFTY new missionaries come into our branch, and now our residence hall and sacrament meeting will be packed!!!  I seriously wish I could already be fluent in the language so that I could leave early, but oh well.

I'll try to recount how this week went, starting from Sunday, but there's not many stories to tell due to the fact that my days have started to become quite monotonous, but I'm so thankful that I can feel the Spirit and receive assurances saying "You can do it!"  Anyway, on Sunday we had a great sacrament meeting and the sacrament gave me such a great comfort (as always) ;)  My companion and I taught a lesson on pananampalataya kay Jesucristo at Kanyang pagbabayad-sala (faith in Jesus Christ and his atonement) in Priesthood and it went really well, I feel like my companion and I are finally starting to get into the groove of teaching in unity. The member of the branch presidency who was sitting in on the lesson pulled us aside afterward and told us what a tremendous job we did and how he could tell that we had prepared, taught, and invited action through the promptings of the Spirit.  

For our Sunday devotional, we celebrated Pioneer Day by having the Nashville Tribute Band come and perform.  It was an awesome experience!  For those who don't know, the Nashville Tribute Band is a group of Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who sing about topics like the First Vision, the Crucifixion, and Missionary Work.  They have some great songs and I would highly suggest listening to them, although some of their songs are too "Baptist Soul" for me :)  What made their performance really special was how they had the MTC choir (which I'm a part of) sing back-up on three of their songs, it made it more personal and fun!  But, the best part was the final song that the lead member of the band wrote about missionary work, which I think was called "The Hardest Thing I've Ever Loved to do", which accounted his feelings he had as he left and returned from his mission.  Then, after singing through it once, he asked the whole MTC to sing it as they put the words on the screen.  It was a very emotional experience and every single Elder was crying because the song was spot on with the experiences we all had as we left our families to serve the Lord.  After the performance, we left to watch different videos.  They had  Meet the Mormons playing, and my companion and I were going to see it, but by the time we got to the room it was being shown in it was full.  So, my companionship and another companionship from my district decided to simply follow the crowd of people and find a video to watch, because we didn't pay attention to the room numbers of the other videos. It turns out we had been guided by the Spirit because the video we ended up watching gave us the exact message we all needed.  It was a talk given by Elder Bednar (Funny how he continues to pop up) titled "Recognize the Spirit" addressed to missionaries at the MTC.  This talk was PHENOMENAL, it helped relieve the stresses of the MTC and helps us understand how to recognize the spirit (go figure).  So, for my next assignment for you all, I would invite you to read/watch/listen to this talk, because it is fantastic.

Monday was class, so nothing really exciting happened.

On Tuesday, we had class (as usual) and TRC.  TRC went really well and both of the messages we taught were spot on with the needs of the different members we taught.  It was awesome and I'm glad that my companion and I are finally learning how to teach with unity.  For the Tuesday devotional, Spencer J. Condie of the Emeritus Seventy spoke to us, and it was great! He spoke on the distortions of doctrine that came from the Great Apostasy and gave some fantastic insights on Lehi's Vision of the Tree of Life.  In his talk, he shared a quote from a book titled "The Cost of Discipleship" that discredited the claim of so-called "cheap grace."  It said, and I'm paraphrasing, "As mortals, we should not expect to be saved by simply stating that we believe in Christ and his grace. Such thoughts about grace demean the sacrifice that the Savior gave on our behalf.  This type of belief makes grace cheap, and does not show reverence to the price paid by the Savior.  Grace should not be cheap, because the price to save all of us was expensive, so expensive that God had to give his only Begotten Son in order to redeem us from the Fall.  With this in mind, it makes no sense how people can believe grace is so cheap."  I think I totally messed up that quote, but it was fantastic nonetheless and I hope to read that book someday.

Wednesday was class again, and I've got nothing to report except that my teacher commended my companion and I for our great Tagalog, but we needed to start using Speak your Language more often, because we tend to go directly to English.  I said I would, so I hope I can still remember English by next week.

That's all I've got for this week.  Sorry to say, I haven't got any new pictures to send, because there hasn't really been any reason to take some.  Thank you all for your love and support, your letters and packages, and your prayers.  

Mahal Kita!!
-Elder Anderson

MTC Second Week

Magandang Hapon!

Hey everyone, my second week went by super quick, so I'll give you the highlights of the week :)  Every Sunday in the MTC there is a devotional given by someone who the MTC presidency invites to come and speak, it can be anyone really.  This past Sunday, however, we watched, as a mission, "The Character of Christ" by David A. Bednar (I was a little disappointed because I had just watched it the week before with my district), which is a fantastic talk and I would encourage you all to find and listen/read it if you can :)  Anyway, following the video, we noticed the door behind the podium open up and in walks Elder David A. Bednar of the quorum of the Twelve Apostles!!!!  He told us that every couple of months he likes to come and visit the MTC on a Sunday and, following the watching of The Character of Christ, conduct an extended question and answer session!  He reminded us that this would most likely be the only time in our lives where we could ask a question to an Apostle of the Lord directly, and that the questions should be prompted by the Spirit, not just asking curiosity questions such as "Where is the Sword of Laban?".  Sadly, I was not able to ask my question, but it turned out my question was answered through other people's questions and by the Espiritu Santo (Holy Ghost).  Afterwards, I recorded my thoughts in my journal and I'm so grateful that Elder Bednar chose to visit while I was at the MTC.

Now I'll give an update on our "investigator".  First off, my teacher lied to our district, she told us over and over that our investigator was real, but he turned out to be our teacher's companion and is now teaching us through one half of the day and my original teacher is teaching the other half.  I hope that made sense.  To be clear, I'm not bitter or anything, I was actually very relieved, but it was a little shocking to walk into class and see "Ronald Tercenio" (aka Brother West) sitting at the teacher's computer in the classroom.  I really like his teaching style though, so it's all good :)   The language is coming along very well, I feel like I've got a pretty good grip on what is being taught and the different conjugations of verbs and what each conjugation focuses on in the sentence and what the order of the sentence is always supposed to be unless of course a single syllable word is used then the order is reversed and if you're using respect then you need to add another syllable into the sentence at a specific point which is dependent upon what verb is being used and if you're asking a question you have to place yet another syllable into the sentence unless you use specific words that automatically denote the sentence as a question.  Now you can all take a deep breath after reading that, because it's actually a lot simpler than it sounds :)  I have fallen in love with this language and I am so grateful that I have been called to learn the beauty of Tagalog.  

We had our first TRC (Teaching Resource Center) session this week, and it actually went pretty well.  Our teachers didn't really explain to us what it was, but we were able to figure it out.  For those who don't know, TRC is a time where missionaries are able to teach members of the Church who volunteered about the gospel, specifically the missionary discussions.  For those missionaries speaking a language, a majority of the volunteers are RMs who served speaking your mission language, and you can only speak your mission language to them.  It was a pretty great experience, our first lesson didn't go over too well (mainly because my companion chose to read a scripture that didn't apply to what we were teaching) but our testimonies were good and the Spirit was felt.  He commended us on our Tagalog, saying it was really good for only learning for two weeks.  Our next lesson was amazing though,  we taught a woman (whose name was Mariah) about the Plan of Salvation, specifically about the Pagbabayad-sala ni JesuCristo (Atonement of Jesus Christ).  She asked us why she sometimes felt like the Savior was far away and I was able to bear testimony about how God gives us trials to strengthen us, and sometimes we are immediately given strength and comfort when we ask for it, but sometimes we are meant to continue throughout a trial as a test of our faith, and the rewards of those trials are much greater.  I also shared how God doesn't send trials that He knows we cannot handle.  In her evaluation, she told us how we shared "an AWESOME response" to her question and that we had "great Tagalog".  I can testify that the gift of tongues is real, and we can only receive it, like any other spiritual gift, through preparation and diligence coupled with faith in Jesus Christ.  

My companion has gotten to be kind of strange.. Sometimes he'll just stare off in the distance and won't respond to anything I say, which makes planning lessons pretty difficult.  He insists that everything is OK, I just hope he's telling the truth.  I know that he's trying his best, but he's a pretty awkward kid.  It's all good though, I'm sure it's nothing, just the way he is.

We've started teaching two new "investigators" this week.  Leonardo is played by Brother West and he is pretty stiff towards the missionaries, we're going to see if we can just get to know him and hopefully he'll open up.  The other investigator is named Noemie who is played by Sister Connel.  She's very receptive and knows that God loves her.

That's all I've got for this week! Until next time!

Thank you to all who have sent me letters, emails, packages, and many other things that brighten my day :)  

Mahal Kita! (I love you!)

-Elder Anderson

Friday, July 15, 2016

First Week, First P-Day

Kumusta po kayo!  Elder Anderson checking in ;)

Sorry it took so long for me to send something, my P-Day isn't until Thursday, just so ya know.

Anyway, it has been a SUPER busy week, so I'll start off with the first day.  My companion is Elder Burnett, and he's pretty cool, he talks a lot but, oh well. He's from Oregon and he likes to tell all sorts of stories about his life before the MTC.  I got to meet my district as well, and they are amazing! Every single missionary in the district loves to work hard at both the language and the gospel, it's great!  There are six elders and four sisters in my district, and each companionship is going to a different mission in the Philippines.  I'll see if I can attach a picture if the transfer from my camera works.

The language is pretty crazy, but it's coming along pretty well.  I can already pray and bear testimony in the language, and it's not just a cookie cutter prayer/testimony either!  My teacher, Sister Connell, is pretty great and she is so encouraging.  We also started teaching an investigator, Ronald Tercenio, who doesn't speak any English (Well, he says so anyway).  My companion and I got to know him and he had so many questions about the gospel, our first two lessons struggled a bit as we tried to piece together different phrases about the restoration in Tagalog, which probably confused Ronald even more, pero our last three lessons went really well!  I think the reason why is because our teacher challenged us to teach the lesson without using notes or a book, just our minds and the Spirit.  My companion and I accepted the challenged and it made all the difference!  We were able to answer all of his questions (sometimes not directly, but we always got our point across) and, after teaching him how to pray, challenging him to read the Book of Mormon, and teaching him about repentance, we got him to commit to baptism yesterday!  I almost cried with the joy I felt for him, even if he was simply a teacher acting as an investigator, my heart filled with love that we were able to bring the message of the gospel to someone. I truly have a testimony of the Gift of Tongues, or Ang Kaloob Mga Wika in Tagalog, and how the Holy Ghost breaks down any language barrier.  

However, we don't only study and teach ;)  Exercise time is by far my favorite time, it is such a huge stress reliever to push your body to it's limits and feel the soreness that next day.  While I like working out, sometimes my district will go play volleyball in the sand courts they have, and that is by far my favorite thing to do, it's so fun!  The food here is pretty gross, so I just eat salad and fruit, so I guess that's a good thing.

Sundays are also pretty great.  I've never had the sacrament be such a comfort to me until this last Sunday.  As I took the sacrament, I felt the comfort of the Spirit overwhelm me as I renewed my covenants with the Lord.  We also got to listen to "The Character of Christ" by Elder Bednar that night, and it was amazing!  It's by far my favorite talk by any Apostle!

Well, I guess that's all for today, thank you so much for everyone who has written/sent me letters, emails, and packages, they brightened my day!

Mahal Kita! (I love you!)

The First Half Hour

Hey everyone!

I'm still alive in the first half hour I've been gone! I want you all to know that I love you and I'm so blessed to be part of our family.  The people here are so nice! They really make you comfortable this first day.  I have a TON of stuff for my language and it's really heavy in my bag, but I'm excited.  I've just done the orientation and I'm about to take my first class.  I love you all!

-Elder Anderson

Saying Goodbye. . .

The morning of July 6, 2016, came quickly and not quick enough.  The much anticipated day seemed far away for so long and before we knew it, it was upon us.  We made plans to leave early as to arrive in Provo early enough to enjoy lunch together as a family.  Ten minutes into the drive, Luke realized he'd forgotten his temple clothes.  We turned around and headed home to get them-- so much for lunch.  This delay put us into a rush but looking back was a blessing in disguise.  Being in a rush gave us less time to dwell upon the fact he was leaving.

We arrived in Provo and stopped at BYU to check Heather out of tennis camp.  We made our way to the temple grounds for family prayer and goodbyes.  Having five girls in the family led to an emotional moment.  Especially when family prayer was said and the mother couldn't hold in her emotions as she was on the border of laughing and crying.  Laughing because she noticed the distorted faces of her daughters as they were trying to hold in the tears and crying because she realized this was so long for quite some time.  The noise that leaked out of this raw emotion was indescribable and led to much laughter through tears.  Luke's comment was, "Mom, I have never heard a sound like that!"  To which her response was, "Well, now when you are laying in bed and feeling a little low, you can look back at this time and have a laugh-out-loud kind of moment."  The mother was glad she could provide.

We loaded up the car and pulled into the MTC.  Missionaries lined the street with bright smiles and furious waves for the new arrivals and their families.  As soon as the brake lights came on, a young elder was at the car door ready to help Elder Anderson with his bags.  A quick round of hugs were exchanged and he was off.  The whole thing lasted nearly as long 2.7 seconds on a bull named "Blue Man Choo"  (that is a family joke that would take too long to explain.)

Elder Anderson left us to begin a new chapter in his life that will likely be one of the climaxes of his personal biography.  We have been blessed to be a part of his life so far.  He has laughed with us, cried with us, lifted us and grown with us.  We will miss him in our home but know he will be blessed in his service and we will be blessed as we hear his adventures and support him in his efforts.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

The Adventure Begins

Elder Luke D. Anderson was set apart today as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  He officially begins his service in the name of Jesus Christ.  He has been called to serve in the Philippines, Laoag, Mission, to teach the gospel in the Tagalog language.  He is about to begin the adventure of a lifetime.

We met with the stake president this evening at 8:30 pm.  President Nussbaum shared some thoughts from Doctrine and Covenants Section 88.  He talked about how the worth of souls is great in the sight of God.  It is my hope that Luke will come to understand how much the Lord loves each one of us and desires to have us all return to live with Him.  Understanding the love the Savior has and sharing that love with others is truly one of the greatest blessings.

In Luke's blessing, as he was set apart, he was promised to have peace, patience and long suffering as he served the Filipino people and also his companions.  He was promised as he was humble and obedient he would be blessed.  He was told there are many who have been prepared and are waiting specifically for him to come find them and share his light with them.  They will be touched by his example and see the happiness he has and desire to know about that happiness.  It was a beautiful blessing.

He is now officially, Elder Anderson.  I know that he will be blessed as he serves the Lord and I look forward to hearing and sharing his adventures.