Sunday, September 25, 2016

A Letter to Mom

Hey Mom, I'm doing fine here :)
Like you said in your email, sometimes the weeks seem long but then all of the sudden it's Sunday and the last Sunday felt like yesterday.
Anyway, my companion is great, we don't have problems with each other, but we don't really relate on anything, so it's a little difficult to talk about things so we're pretty quiet.  I'm not sure if there's anything else to say.
This transfer is almost over, and apparently the mission president doesn't tend to keep training for all 12 weeks, and will almost always change companions for new missionaries on their first transfer, so we'll see what happens.
I gotta say, I really miss chocolate milk.  They don't have dairy products here, their dairy is simply rehydrated powdered milk, so it's... weird tasting.  Anyway, I continue to lose weight, but I feel great, so I'm still not worried :)
Today our zone went to the zoo and I got to walk a full-grown tiger and feed it from a bottle, so that was cool :)  I'll send pictures next week because I don't have my converter with me. 
I love you and I miss you

Week 4 San Juan

Hello everybody!
Well, it happened.  I got called on to speak in church yesterday.  Thankfully, I was told the day before, so I had some time to prepare.  I spoke on faith, and I think it went pretty well.  I gave the talk in English in order to say exactly what I wanted to say, but I shared my testimony in Tagalog in the end and I was able to say things I didn't even know I knew.  
This week wasn't really eventful, however we were invited to several Family Home Evenings, which were all pretty fun.  However, I think my companion takes advantage of me, being new and all, and I had to give the thought at every single one, but at least I learned a lot in how to teach, so I guess I can be grateful for that :)

Our area continues to have no progress, which frustrates me because we work so hard and pray and study and do all that we can to find new investigators, but nothing comes from it.  The thing that frustrates me the most is that Filipinos are so nice, which sounds like it should be a good thing, but it makes it difficult to know if they are really interested in the message we have or simply are trying to be kind to us.  So far, they've all been simply trying to be nice, so no progressing investigators and no baptismal dates, but we will keep pressing on!  The hymn "Carry On" comes to my mind if I ever start to feel discouraged at all.  It helps me continue to have good spirits and be thankful for all the blessings that God has given me.  If anyone has any advice that helped in their mission (obviously if you served one) it would be greatly appreciated.
My companion and I are doing well, we don't fight but we don't really talk to each other either.  We don't really relate on anything and it can be kind of difficult.  Oh well, we work and that's what's good.
That's all I've got for this week, I don't have any pictures this week but I will have some next week.
Thank you for all the emails and birthday wishes!  Next time I send an email I will be "One year older and wiser too!"
Mahal ko kayo!


Week 3 San Juan

Hello once again!

I actually have my card reader, so I'll be sending pictures in another email :)

This week was pretty great, we taught lessons and gained new investigators.  It's been kind of hard because we don't have any progressing investigators yet.  The missionaries before me were super lazy and didn't work at all, so my trainer and I are essentially opening an area, but that's all good :) It just means I get to lose myself in the work even more :)  

I have forgotten to mention that the situation of the San Juan elders is fairly unique.  We don't have a meeting house in our area, so we have to travel to Cabugao in order to go to church, however, there aren't any buses leaving from San Juan early enough on Sunday to get us to church on time, so every Saturday we stay the night with the Cabugao elders, who also happen to be our Zone Leaders.  One of our Zone Leaders is Elder Fees, an American from Utah, kind of close to Park City, and he has helped me adjust a lot.  I can speak English to him, which is surprisingly comforting.  However, I still study the language really hard.

Those of you who know Elder Doman, he was called to the Tacloban mission and learned Cebuano, but they only really speak Wari-Wari there.  That's kind of the same for me here, I learned Tagalog, but they mainly speak Ilocano here, which is COMPLETELY different from Tagalog.  Most kids will understand Tagalog because they learn it in school, but the older generation and the poorer areas only understand and speak Ilocano, so that's fun :)  I also realized that's why I have had a hard time understanding some of the conversations I hear, it's because they are in Ilocano...  Oh well, two languages learned on a mission are better than just one right? :)

This week has been really good though, my trainer has been following the Twelve Week program and I've been getting better and better at teaching and finding.  I've definitely seen a lot of improvement on my faith as I seek the gift of tongues and it comes to me during lessons, I've seen a lot of improvement with my social skills as I have become less shy and my love for the people increases, and I've seen improvement on my Pancit Canton cooking skills (essentially just Ramen without broth) It's been pretty great :)

I've also decided I'm going to buy a hammock for my apartment that I can take with me throughout my mission. The ZLs have one and it's the best for studying, relaxing, and just general sitting.  I've started to get more used to the Filipino culture and gotten more relaxed as I've come to understand what means a lot to them and how I can relate to them. 

Now onto the food... It's so bland.  They don't use a lot of spices in their cooking, and there is rice for every meal.  Breakfast. Lunch. Dinner.  At first I thought I liked rice, but it gets old after you have it for three meals a day.  I've decided I'll only eat rice if I have a dinner appointment with a member, every other time I won't eat rice.  It gets so old and there's no nutritional value for this white rice they so dearly love.  It's kind of crazy how much they LOVE rice... it's honestly not great.  The best thing they have here is the fruit stands though, even though you have to be careful from where you buy due to health concerns.  The fruit is so fresh and so cheap, it's pretty great :)

That's all I've got for this week, until next time!
Mahal ko kayo
-Elder Anderson

Sunday, September 11, 2016

San Juan Week 2

Hello everybody!

Before I begin, I must apologize, I left my card reader back at the apartment again, so no pictures, but I promise I do have them!

Anyway, this week I adjusted more to missionary life, sorry for the somewhat discouraging email last time, I was pretty overwhelmed with everything that was going on and the difficulty of the language.  I'm better now though, I simply needed to decompress.  

So, as I mentioned previously, all me and my companion do is finding.  This week, we taught 18 lessons, which is apparently high for my area, and it continues to increase.  We gain quite a few investigators, but sadly, none of them went to church yesterday.  However, all of the less-actives we taught this week came, so that was great :)  My companion and I work hard, I really hope that the hearts of the people here will be softened so that we may teach them the love and joy the gospel brings, and so they can understand the atonement and the blessings it brings.

We have extended several baptismal invitations, and they've been accepted, they just need to continue to progress and come to church.  Fun fact, in all of the Philippines missions, it's a requirement for all investigators, before baptism, to attend church four weeks in a row.  This rule is put in place in order to increase retention of those whom we teach.  Apparently that's not a normal requirement.  It works though, the Philippines missions have a 98% retention rate, or so I heard.  That's pretty amazing to me :)  

My Tagalog is improving, but I still can't make day-to-day conversation to save my life.  I can teach lessons, pray, testify, and introduce us as missionaries, so I guess that's something :)  I just wish I could learn this language already.  I've started translating the Book of Mormon from Tagalog to English, and it's been helping a lot.  I like to think of it as mimicking Joseph Smith, translating from some foreign, crazy language into English.  

So, now for some fun facts.  There is no toilet paper here.  You can buy it, but it's expensive, and the toilets don't flush, so you run the risk of clogging the toilet. Instead, there are either sprayers or a bucket of water with a ladle that sprays you clean, or you have to use (if you're filipino, I don't do this) your hand mixed with the ladle of water.  It's pretty nasty, but thankfully I budget out my money to buy toilet paper, I am NEVER using my hand.  To flush the toilet, you have to fill a bucket with water and pour it into the toilet until everything goes down, it's pretty.... different.

Also, there is no hot water here, anywhere.  Nada. Zilch.  So for showers, you fill a bucket with cold water and you take another, smaller bucket and pour it over your head.  Every morning and every night I shower, and each instant the cold water goes over my head I have to gasp.  It is SO COLD.  Oh well, it could be worse.

Finally, one of the favorite foods here is coagulated pigs blood, and they like to barbecue it or put it on rice.  It's honestly not bad, the texture is just super weird.  

That's all I've got for you, let me know if there's any questions you'd like to ask!

Remember, Christ does not give us any trial we cannot handle, through the atonement of Jesus Christ we can overcome anything in our lives.  Stand with faith, and know that God is always with thee, even if no one else is.

Mahal ko kayo
-Elder Anderson

San Juan Week 1

Hello everyone,
I have spent the last couple of days in the mission, and it has been a roller-coaster.  There were 8 missionaries going to Laoag from our batch, all but one came from the Provo MTC.  We stayed at the mission home for the first night, then we had orientation the next morning and met our trainers.  My trainer is Elder Cerbolles from Manila, and he's great, but he doesn't really speak English.  I guess that's a blessing, it'll help me learn Tagalog faster.  

Anyway, I was assigned to the San Juan area, and it turns out there's only about 5 members in the area, so all we do is find.  Tracting has been alright, I've been hit with rejection a lot, but oh well. I'm just glad the people can't slam doors in my face, mainly because most people don't have doors.  However, the first person we contacted let us in, and even agreed to say the closing prayer after the lesson.  It was pretty great to see someone willing to hear the message we have.

Church was great as well, but I still don't understand a lot of Tagalog.  They speak so much faster here, and their accent is pretty hard to understand, but I know I'll get the hang of it eventually.  Right now, it is 11:20 am on August  29, I believe the Philippines are 14 hours ahead of Utah time.  It's been pretty difficult adjusting to the time difference, even with that first week in the Manila MTC.  Everything is super cheap here, 1 US Dollar is equivalent to 46.25 Pisos or something like that. They also don't use cents, its only full pisos, at least from what I've seen.  Transportation is interesting too, I don't have a Jeep-ney in my area, so we ride on Tricies, which are motorcycles with a big side car, and buses, but the bus is only used when we have to go to a different area for church.

I'm sorry this letter is so unorganized, I just have so much going through my head and there's so much to tell.  The Philippines is a beautiful place, rice fields are gorgeous, and it rains so much now because it's the rainy season.  However, the way people live is very interesting.  Most people live in homes that have a tin or palm roof, with either cinder blocks or bamboo for walls, which didn't surprise me.  What DID surprise me is the fact that everyone here has a cell phone, and most everyone has a laptop, tv, or some other kind of electronic device, even though you'd think they couldn't afford it.  It's very strange and hard to describe.  I do love these people though, they are very quick to laugh and work hard.  

Just so you all know, my address is

Brgy. #50 Buttong, Airport Avenue
Junction Tangid Road, Laoag City
2900 Ilocos Norte

In case you would like to send something, but please keep in mind I have to pay 112 p for any package sent through UPS or USPS.  Those two companies are the best, FedEx is very expensive both for you and me, so DO NOT USE IT.  I don't expect packages or letters, but I thought I'd let you know just in case.

I already know I'm going to lose a lot of weight here.  The food isn't bad, but there's a lot of concern for getting parasites, so there's not many places to eat that you know are safe.  I also sweat so much here when it's not raining.  It's always humid, and when the humidity is coupled with heat I sweat like crazy.  Hopefully I'll get used to it.

I know this letter may sound discouraging, but don't worry.  I know that this is where I am supposed to be in my life.  The spirit felt while teaching is fantastic, there's nothing quite like it.  I know that I'll continue to increase in my knowledge of both the gospel and Tagalog.  The adjustment is difficult, but I know if I have faith that everything will turn out ok, it will.  I love you, and I love serving the Lord.

Until Next time
Mahal ko kayo
-Elder Anderson

Letter from President

Brgy. 50 Buttong, Airport Avenue 
Junction Tangid Road,
 Laoag City 2900 Ilocos Norte,

 August 24, 2016 

Brother James V. Anderson 
Sister Andrea Yardley Anderson 

Dear Brother and Sister Anderson, 

We are delighted with the arrival of Elder Luke Daniel Anderson. Thank you for sending us such a fine missionary son. He is an exemplary young man and we are proud and privileged to have him serve with us. He has arrived in good health with a wonderful spirit and desire to serve. 

His first assignment is to labor in San Juan, Ilocos Sur with a wonderful trainer, Elder Cerbolles. The enclosed map shows you geographically where he is serving. Also enclosed is a photograph taken with Sister Andrada, his trainer and me at the Mission home. 

Please remember to write every week. Letters from home are so important for missionaries and can greatly influence their successful adjustment into missionary life. May I suggest you include positive and encouraging news and comments and omit information about family or other concerns as this only generates worry and anxiety. 

Missionaries of course serve with an “eye single to the Glory of God.” Their entire focus, therefore, needs to be on their work and ministry. Help and encourage him to do this. Please do not mention how much time is remaining for him, or special events you may have planned for him on his return, as this will only act as a distraction to his service. With your encouragement he will mature and progress beyond your expectations. 

Be comforted and know that Sister Andrada and I will love him as our own and do all we can to help him develop and rise to his full potential. We also want his mission experience to be a wonderful experience for your entire family. We extend our love and best wishes to you. Please let us know if there is anything we can do to help you or him. 

Yours sincerely, 

President Robert M. Andrada

Manila MTC

Hello From the Philippines!!!!

I, Elder Anderson, have successfully traversed the Pacific Ocean and arrived safely in the Philippines, the Promised Land.  I know that God blessed us with safety, and I'm very thankful for that.  Right now, it is 5:38 pm on August 19... so the time difference is pretty huge.  

Just wanted to let you all know that I love you and I'm ever so grateful for your prayers!  Mahal ko kayo.  

There are many stories to be told from my travels, but we aren't given a lot of time to email right now, so those will be for another time.

Thank you so much, I love you all.
-Elder Anderson

Calls From the Airport

We had a wonderful experience talking with Luke while he waited at the airport for his departure.  He had written each member of the family a hand-written note before he left the MTC.  Savannah went out to get the mail the day he was leaving and got the letters.  She distributed them and read hers about five minutes before the phone rang.  She picked up the phone and said, "hello."  I could slightly hear the caller ask, "Hey, who is this?"  Savannah broke down sobbing and couldn't even talk.  I know her heart was already tender because of the words Luke had written to her and then picking up the phone and hearing his voice brought her to tears.  It was a very tender and sweet moment.

We all got to take some time and visit with Elder Anderson.  His excitement was palpable and his vision clear.  It was fun to share in his enthusiasm for the Gospel and the things he had learned in the MTC.  I know that he had a great experience there and grew a lot.

I had the opportunity to talk to him twice because he called around midnight from the California airport where he had a layover.  I asked him what was one of the most important lessons he learned while in the MTC.  He answered, without hesitation, that we have to have faith.  Not only do we have to have faith but we have to utilize it.  He shared some experiences with me where he realized he had to turn things over to the Lord and have faith that He would carry him.  He also shared with me how he learned that patience isn't an easy virtue for him but he is working on it.  

I feel so blessed to have this young man as my son and I am grateful for the example he sets for me and my family.  I know he will have many more lessons to learn and many things he will teach.

MTC Week 6

Hello everyone!

I'm just writing a quick email before I leave to let you all know that I love you and you are in my prayers!

I leave tomorrow and I'm so excited! I cannot wait to be serving those people in the Philippines!  The experience at the MTC has been fantastic, but I'm ready to go on to the real world (at least I hope so).  Thank you for all your love and support!  Thank you for the emails, letters, and packages, they have been greatly appreciated!  I love you and I will let you know as soon as I can when I've arrived safely in the Philippines!!

I love you all!
-Elder Anderson

MTC Week 5

Kumusta po!

Many things happened this week,

Last Thursday, I wrote about TRC over skype with someone in the Philippines. It was fantastic!!!!!!  My companion and I taught a return missionary in Manila, who was actually one of our teacher's companions.  He was very friendly and quite hilarious.  It was so awesome to hear a native speaker and to hear what Tagalog is really supposed to sound like.  I realized, however, that the teachers at the MTC speak quite a bit slower than Filipinos...  Oh well, I'll be able to adjust when I get there.  We have another opportunity for skype TRC tonight, and I'm sure it will go well.

On Friday, after lunch, our zone received our flight itineraries!!!!!!!!! I'm also the travel leader for my group, so that'll be interesting.  We leave on Wednesday, August 17 and we depart from the MTC at 1:50 pm. Our flight doesn't leave until 6:56 pm, so there will be a lot of downtime at the airport.  I'm so excited, but I'm also a little nervous, but I guess that's normal.  This is actually my final "official" P-day before I leave the MTC!  The countdown has begun and I cannot wait to head out!!  

Saturday was class, nothing out of the ordinary happened.

Since this Sunday was fast Sunday, we had a mission conference and were addressed by the MTC presidency.  They actually released our second counselor in the presidency due to health concerns, so a new one was called and he seems pretty neat.  The presidency shared a lot of great messages, and the former second counselor and his wife shared their testimonies with us.  It was fantastic, the Spirit was very strong.  I won't go into detail with what they shared, but I do have it written in my journal. Then, that evening we had a devotional by President Holland, Jefferey R. Holland's son, and he gave a wonderful talk about Joseph Smith's life and all that he went through before even receiving the first vision.  He challenged us to become students of Joseph Smith's life, and promised that if we did so, we would be able to more fully appreciate the Book of Mormon and the marvelous work and wonder that is the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.  I realized that anything that I might come to experience in my mission will be nothing compared to what Joseph Smith had to go through in his life and mission to bring about the restored gospel through the power and authority of God.  Keeping that thought in mind, I know that I can overcome any of the trials that may fall upon me on mission as the Lord is on my side, no matter how bleak the circumstances may seem.

Monday we had more class and nothing too exciting happened, our teacher was sick so our investigator lesson turned into a follow up kind of a visit.

As usual, we had a devotional on Tuesday, but this one was special.  This devotional was broadcast to all of the MTCs in the world!  Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles came and spoke to us about missionary work.  He shared many scriptures and gave a lot of great advice.  I'll share a couple of quotes.  The first was, "Learning how to be a missionary is not complicated, but it's not easy."  This is definitely true.  There are so many things you need to do as a missionary, and, while being pretty straightforward, it's difficult to have to experience such a new lifestyle and learn how to adjust so quickly.  However, through prayer, scripture study, and faith, I know that I can overcome anything that is thrown at me.  The next quote is "Don't be discouraged, have great courage."  This was followed by him giving advice to not blame yourself if doors are slammed in your face or if a "golden" family suddenly decides to no longer hear the message of the gospel.  You should feel sad, but you shouldn't blame yourself for their decision, each of us is given agency and those who decide to no longer hear the gospel exercise theirs, even if it was a sad decision.  

That's all I've got for this week, I'm not sure if I'll have another opportunity to email you all before I leave for the Philippines, so if I don't, I want you all to know that I love you, and I'm so glad to have made the decision to serve a mission.  It has been a fantastic experience so far and I know it will only get better from here.  

Thank you to all who have sent me letters, packages, emails, etc. they have helped me so much and reminded me that I am loved ;)

Mahal Kita

-Elder Anderson