Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Visa is coming?


Okay, this past week has been absolutely full to the brim with changes and stuff! It is so hard to keep track of everything that is going on. Let me start with what is happening today, which will probably be the busiest P-Day I have had so far. First of all, earlier this week, me and my companion were invited to do something. On the first day that missionaries arrive here, they do a teaching practice. They get into rooms of maybe 40 or 50 missionaries and all work together to teach an investigator (still, of course, and actor). Maybe you remember me talking about this in my first letter. Well during these practices, two missionaries (who have been at the MTC longer) pretend to knock on a door and are invited in by the investigator. They demonstrate how to begin teaching. It is not scripted, they just teach based on how they know how to do it. They do this for maybe 5 minutes. Then they leave, and the 40 or 50 other new missionaries take over. My companion and I have been invited to be the two missionaries that demonstrate how to begin teaching. We have about a 45 minute training class for that.

After this class, I have a 3 hour trip to a place with 4 other elders in my district... the Consulate Office. My visa, despite all the odds, is practically here!! It is not guaranteed, but it is likely that with this trip to the Consulate, I can be in Mexico next week or maybe the week after that. I am so excited. Elder Kearl is disappointed, because his visa is not ready for him. He is having a hard time understanding this, because he was probably the most excited for his visa. When I get back, Elder Kearl and I will do our "how to begin teaching" demonstration. After that, we are greeting yet another district tonight... and it has more sisters than elders, which I think is a first for this zone.

There are lots of other crazy things happening that I cannot recall right now. As for being zone leader, I am very busy with that as well. Almost every night, I pull aside one or two elders from the zone and talk to them individually, just to see how they are doing. I talk to them about their strengths, their concerns, their goals, and I try to follow the Spirit to know if there is any scripture or thought I can share with them. I have had some tremendous conversations with them through this. One of these conversations was very unique. It was with Elder Clarkson, from my district. I don't remember exactly how the conversation went, but here is kinda how it was:

Me - "So I just wanted to see how you were doing in the MTC."
Clarkson - "I'm doing good, how about you?"
Me - "I'm doing good, well, trying to do good haha!"
Clarkson - "What do you mean?"
Me - "Oh you know, we all have problems and trials and stuff."
Clarkson - "You wanna talk about it?"

Well, eventually I agreed and the conversation went into reverse... instead of it being all about how Elder Clarkson was doing, he started to really, really, really help me - his zone leader. And it was incredible. He gave me a lot of advice and shared one of the coolest testimonies about prayer that I have not only heard, but felt. It was a wonderful experience.

Yesterday's devotional: the time finally came! We all stood up and reverently welcomed Elder M. Russell Ballard as our speaker last night. Finally, an apostle! His talk was very great and inspired! I was literally probably 20 feet away from him. I could have stood up and walked up to the stand and shook his hand if I wanted... I probably would have been tasered or something if I did, so it is a good thing I didn't. haha!!

Investigators are doing great. We were "transferred".  This happened completely randomly. Me and Elder Kearl had a lesson plan for David, and 5 minutes before, we found out we are teaching a new person named Gustavo... so we agreed on a basic lesson outline, and left the rest to the Spirit and our own knowledge. Gustavo is an actor, who is the same person that acted as David. So we taught Gustavo. It went incredible. Elder Kearl and I had incredible flow. We found out his needs (he wants to support his family in a troubled world), addressed them, and got a baptism date in the first lesson. The Spirit was so strong and I know that God helped make that possible.

Leonardo is doing good. We will teach him today, I think. He is committed to keeping the Word of Wisdom and not drinking. He has been to church. He is doing very well, and he too has a baptism date. I bought a Spanish "Stories of the Book of Mormon" book (with all those pictures), and may use that for him. I will use it for Gustavo too because he has young children. Elder Kearl and I will give Leo a "audio-narration" of the Book of Mormon because he cannot read. We have a pretend member teaching him how to read. Elder Kearl and I have also acted as "member friends" as we have joined in other missionary's lessons. That's fun!

I love giving baptism invitations. During our lesson with Gustavo, I looked at Elder Kearl and confirmed what we both were thinking. I told him, "Invite him to be baptized." He showed me that he also knew that it was the right moment, and he extended the invitation. Gustavo readily agreed.

There are a lot more crazy things going on. We are learning subjunctive in Spanish, which is so hard. But it is okay.

Orienting our new district last Wednesday and Thursday was awesome. We talked to them and gave them a tour. It was really nice to help them feel comfortable and stuff. I just needed to smile and start talking about the fact that I only have 9 toe nails and everybody ends up relaxed and laughing... and they all probably think I am a goof ball!  (Note from Elder Anderson's mom - Chase had toe surgery earlier in his life, leaving him with one toe that doesn't have a toenail on it.  It's a bit of a novelty and... apparently... a great way to break the ice!)

We made some zone goals with the district leaders earlier this week. One goal was very controversial and not received well by our district. However, it wasn't a very good goal in the first place... me and Elder Kearl are still learning and trying to figure this out. The goal was that we do not receive our mail until 9:25 p.m. Normally, we get it twice a day. When that happens, it becomes a distraction. So we wanted to save mail until the night so it isn't a distraction. With help from the Branch Presidency, we refined these goals (and God refined us, of course), and the district leaders should have made it known to their districts. The new goals are better because they are more broad. They are goals, not rules. Our new goals are:

1. Speak Spanish every day whenever you can.
2. Be more focused.
3. Have exact obedience in Residence Halls.

These three goals are narrowed into district goals, and then narrowed even more into individual goals... some of these individual goals include mail.

Spanish is going great. Elder Kearl and I have conversations sometimes in Spanish, and it is cool to be able to carry that conversation.

Please pray for Elder Kearl. He is a little upset that his visa is not yet here and is wondering why that is.

I have not found my study journal. I have no idea where I left it.

Earlier this week, we hosted senior missionaries again, so that was cool.

By the way, my mission has been split. It is still the Mexico City East Mission, but it is smaller... just so you know!!

Love, Elder Anderson

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Four Weeks and Holding Strong


Thank you to everyone who has sent me letters. Today I will try and respond to all of them and get them sent!

Well, this past week has been incredible. As of yesterday, my district is the oldest district in the zone. We are officially the big dogs. The other two districts have all left to their mission fields. Many have been reassigned to stateside missions, such as California, Idaho, and Salt Lake, while waiting for visas to Mexico. We now have 3 districts in the zone. There will be 4 tonight, and my companion and I, as zone leaders, have the opportunity to greet and orient them tonight.

Leonardo and David, our actor investigators, are doing pretty good. Leonardo cannot read and knows practically nothing about the church. That is a struggle because he can't read the Book of Mormon in order to get a testimony of it. So me and Elder Kearl have struggled with that. But it is okay. I think that some companionships have been told by him to not come back again, so at least my companion and I are not doing THAT bad... haha! David is progressing. He is shooting for March 12 as his baptism date. He needs to feel ready and overcome some doubts.

I love the devotionals here. No apostle yet. However, last night we had a member of the Presidency of the Seventy and that was really cool.

Last Monday, the Elders in my district had the opportunity to be HOSTS for Senior Missionaries. That means we were able to greet them when they came to the MTC to start their missions, and we showed them their rooms and stuff. That was totally awesome, and very interesting. All of them were so happy and eager. It was quite an amazing experience to watch them say bye to their families and begin their missions. All of them were so excited and confident.

Being a zone leader is absolutely a blessing. I love it. We have had great opportunities to be instruments in the hands of God. I have felt inspired to speak with Elders (we don't really work with sisters as much. They have a Coordinating Sister who is kind of a zone leader for hermanas) who I felt needed to feel God's love. I won't mention names but here is one experience I had...At the devotional on Sunday (I think), me and my companion were split up. That happens sometimes when the room is companion sits somewhere and the other sits somewhere else. There were not spots that had two chairs next to each other that we could find. So anyways, I was just sitting by someone I didn't know waiting for the Devotional to start. Then, an elder from our newest district called to me and asked if I wanted to sit by him. There was one chair next to him and he was just wondering if I wanted to. I said that I was okay. I would stay where I was. I didn't think anything of it. Then I felt prompted...Go sit by him. So I changed my mind and did so. I was able to talk to him about some things, and share with him some experiences I had. I don't know what he needed to hear, but I felt like it was a good thing to do.

I have also had other experiences like that. It is very memorable to be able to put your hand on the shoulder of an elder and have him trust you enough to tell you that he is having a hard time not yelling at everyone who makes him mad. It is amazing to use the Spirit to comfort him and help him. Developing trust has been key in that regard. Me and Elder Kearl have had the idea of visiting each room in the residence hall in our zone (so, all the elders) and sharing scriptures with them before bed time. We do not do that every day, because that can kinda get a little annoying sometimes. But despite that, as we go every couple days or every other day or so, we have felt the Spirit as we have shared those scriptures.

My companion and I are doing great. We have had some clashes recently. But we are doing okay and still love each other. There have been times when I feel just how much I need Elder Kearl. For example, once we were split up during a devotional. Even though that is okay (since you are surrounded by other missionaries), this one time we were split and I didn't plan on us being split. I felt totally lost and afraid. Weird, right? WHERE IS MY COMPANION!? I felt like something was very wrong and I just wanted to find him. Eventually I did and the relief was phenomenal. It is incredible how important companions are, to the point where I can hardly stand being apart. We are a blessing to one another and teach very well.

The district is doing very well. I have had the chance of developing a personal relationship with the Elders. I want them to know I am here for them. Last night, we had a "slumber party" in me and Elder Kearl's room. Not sure if that is even allowed.......haha. But we had 8 elders who came by from our district. We probably should avoid doing that again, but I will admit, that was a good experience. Some of the elders there were people that I sometimes disagreed with a little. But that night when we were all hanging out in the residence, I felt that we reinforced a strong friendship. We were able to joke around and laugh. That was needed. Maybe we could do that next time without the slumber party part...haha!

I have bought tons of stuff. I have a picture flip book, hymnbooks, highlighters, tabs, notebooks, and probably some other stuff as well. I am sure that I am over my weight limit for luggage with all of these things, so I need to figure out how to deal with this stuff. I have asked people about the free package that we can send to the mission home in order to get our books there without taking them on the one seems to think that I can do least not for free. I will figure it out.

No word on my visa yet. I am not really sure how illness is doing in the MTC. I think that it is okay.

I have lost my study journal, and there is some really special stuff in there. Please pray to help me find it.

I will be in the field very soon. About two weeks I think. Please send me pictures so I can have them as I of family, friends, or whatever :)
I have come to understand that being reassigned to a state-side mission before going to Mexico is very, very common. As a matter of fact, it may be most likely that I am reassigned before I go to Mexico. If that is the case, I can call you and tell you where I will be going. 
Language is coming along well. I can say a lot of things in Spanish! One lesson I had with TRC's (Teaching Real Citizens -- real people that come by to hear the missionaries teach them just for fun or whatever) was pretty good I think. One of the guys we were teaching told me that my language speaking with Spanish was doing awesome. In lessons with investigators I can tell that the language is coming along. I am relying less and less on written lessons and more and more on the Spirit. Sometimes our planned lessons don't even work as we wanted to, because we felt inspired to do something else, like invite someone to be baptized. And it is really cool how we are being helped to say these things in Spanish. I can get through much of the day with only Spanish.

Until next week!

Fourth Week Pictures

Elder Turner and Elder Anderson - Elder Turner has left for the field

Elder Anderson's totally organized desk

Several of these Elders have already left the MTC

The "Slumber Party" - and look!  There's Chase's right foot just 
to the left of the picture.  Aaaaw!!

I'm guessing this represents the "after" effects of the "Slumber Party"

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

A new calling! Week 3 in the MTC


Thank you for all of your emails and letters that I have received! My MTC experience is continuing to progress and flourish and I am having a wonderful time.

I have two pieces of information that I would like to start off with.

First of all, me and my companion have been called as zone leaders. We are in training and will officially begin this Sunday. I am so excited and yet so nervous. Today he and I are joining the current zone leaders and welcoming the new district that is coming into our zone. I am nervous because I still feel so new, but it will all work out. My companion and I, for the past 2 weeks or so, have made a goal to meet with companionships from our zone and get to know them better. That has been a great blessing, and now with our new assignment to be zone leaders, we will have to expand that goal. I truly desire a personal relationship with everyone in the zone. I want them to know that they can come to me for anything, and I want our district leaders to have the same desire as I do, so that we can work together. I am very excited for this assignment. Elder Dame (Elder Flake's companion) is our new district leader. I think he is enjoying that.

Secondly, the moment that everyone has warned me about. The one moment that is the reason for so many funny mission companion is driving me nuts!! I love him and I think he is great but he really does have his quirks...just little stuff that annoy me! Oh well! I have to look past them and just move forward! When we have Companionship Inventory, we spend time as companions to discuss ways we can improve. That is difficult for me to do sometimes. I don't want to talk about what I can do better sometimes! But it is constructive and good.

Leonardo and David are our investigators (actors). Yes, David is paying more attention. He really opened up in one lesson and we invited him to be baptized. He will think about it. I had him pray right on the spot as well....I think that I do that a lot in lessons! I have really come to understand that having investigators pray during the lesson can be extremely spiritual.

Tuesday devotionals are awesome. We have had, I think, two devotions with a member of the 70 being the speaker. No apostle yet!

The language is really coming along great. I have gotten to the point where I can translate some of the Spanish in Preach My Gospel into English as I read.

The MTC is so much fun. We have random snowball fights all the time it seems. We would be walking when all of a sudden a snowball hits somebody, and then war breaks out. It is so much fun! My companion and I have not attempted to beat our record on the stairs yet! Maybe we will do it today. We tried going down the stairs in 8 seconds, but we got 15 seconds instead - haha! Elder Kearl finds it so funny about how I react to this weather! Sometimes I will be like a kid in a candy store looking at all this snow, and I will always be wanting to chuck a snowball at someone! Other times I am freezing and my companion (who is used to 20 or 30 degree weather) is totally fine. I sometimes tell people that in Mesa, snow is a myth!

I love receiving mail! Keep sending me some! Seriously, our poor district leader is going to get mauled some day when he gets us our mail! We all love getting letters!

I feel I am getting closer and closer to the Spirit. It is important to not get discouraged, even though it is hard sometimes. I think for the first time in my life, I have been really able to get out of discouraging attitudes. Normally, I would get depressed and stay that way for awhile. Now, I am trying hard to not do that. Instead, I just tell myself that I am going to move forward and do better. And that often works out.

Patience is golden in the MTC. Some people just make me want to pick up a table and throw it!!! I am trying so hard to be patient and loving (no wonder I am going to be a zone is like God is recognizing that I am progressing, so He immediately knows that it is time for more challenges! I am ready for it though!). My district can get very loud and goofy during some times, so I am trying to be patient because I feel that there could be less of that and more work. I will respond to this in love and not anger. :)

To answer your questions, yes we have service times in the week. We clean other building's bathrooms and stuff. That is actually a lot of fun! I enjoy it! I think that I have gotten a picture by the map...but it is on someone else's camera so I will have to try and get it.

I really admire two people on this mission....Elder Babcock and Elder Flake. Elder Babcock left awhile ago to Mexico. He was my best friend in childhood, and lo and behold he was my zone leader when I first got here. He is a great missionary. He is optimistic, sociable, and totally confident and spiritual. He will work miracles in Mexico. There was an experience that I had in my first week, I think, when I was really down and discouraged. I walked into a room when he and other zone leaders were at. Elder Babcock could just tell something was up. He looked at me without a word, and nodded his head as if to tell me that everything was okay. That was perfect. I didn't need much more than that during that moment. Elder Flake and I are a lot alike, I think. He has an incredible spirit and willingness to work. I know that he will continue to be great and do good.

One more experience that I had last night. When I went to bed, I said my prayer for that night. I was really tired so I decided to not give a very sincere prayer. Well, when I finished I got out of bed to go blow my nose. Suddenly I had one of my big bloody noses there in the bathroom, and I had to stay up and take care of that. During that time I was thinking to myself..."Ok, Ok! Sorry God I will say my prayers right!" Hahahaha! The bloody nose was just a bloody nose but I kinda felt that God was kindly reminding me that I needed to go back and do it right with my prayers :) I love it when I recognize His guidance in my life, even if it takes a bloody nose for me to notice it. :)

I am having an absolute blast. The Spirit is incredible throughout these days. I am learning so much. I will send pictures a little later today. :) Be expecting some letters as well. I will try and get them all mailed today. They should be there in a few days I think. :)

Thank you for all you do and for all of your support and prayers. Here are some more answers to your questions:

I have gained about 10 pounds, maybe more. When I checked before my mission, I was 145, but I don't know how long ago that was. I am now about 162.

The peanut butter shot has been mentioned, but I don't think I will need it at all. We had an immunization check in the first week, and they never said I needed it.

I believe that Elder Babcock is in Guadalajara, Mexico. There are others in our zone who are going elsewhere, like California, before visas finally arrive.

Sundays are great. They are relaxing. We have sacrament meeting, priesthood meeting, temple walks (except last Sunday it was cancelled), fireside, and we watch movies and recordings of talks from general authorities.

Yes we give talks. We are supposed to prepare a three minute one each Sunday in Spanish. Then we are chosen to give the talk in Sacrament Meeting. I have not been selected in any of the times yet.

At night, I usually study my language, or study the scriptures. We also love to talk, meet with members of the branch presidency, goof around, or whatever.

We are on a cool floor. We have lots of cool people there who love to have fun.

I have to take off soon so I will write back next Wednesday. Good luck with everything and I shall keep you in my prayers. Bye!

Elder Anderson

 Elder Ames in the laundry room

Elder Kearl (Chase's companion) and an Hermana from his district

A face only a mother could love!

Elder Flake - from Mesa, AZ - one of the best friends of Elder Hooper whose family lives 
across the street from us.  Small, small, small world.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Hola! Second Week in MTC


Another week in the MTC has gone by, and it has gone by so fast that I cannot believe that I am almost half way done in the MTC!!! The first week was deathly slow and now this past week has come and gone so fast.

It has been a great week. We have been teaching Enrique in Spanish. Me and Elder Kearl have got him to commit to baptism (again, this investigator is an actor, but we treat him and pray for him as if he was real). Probably the coolest lesson me and my companion have ever taught with him was when we were talking to him about prayer and the Holy Ghost. He was talking about how he felt good when the Spirit was with him, but that he had a hard time knowing if the church was true (It might have been the Book of Mormon that he was worried about, I can't remember that...). Anyway, I bore my testimony to him in Spanish and helped him to understand the Spirit better and how to feel it continually throughout his life. I then asked him if he could pray with us at that very moment and ask God if the church was true. He responded hesitantly, but agreed. It was probably one of the greatest spiritual experiences ever when we knelt down and listened to Enrique ask God if the church was true. Afterwards, me and my companion remained silent so that Enrique could think and feel the Spirit. He then told us that he felt warm inside, and that he thought the church was true. It was an incredible experience.

No, we did not give him a blessing. My companion was worried because we weren't familiar with the language enough to do so. I really wanted to do it, but it is okay! We are finished teaching Enrique now. Our teacher (Hermano Ostler) said that we had a certain number of lessons to teach. If Enrique was a real investigator, we would probably still be working with him. But because this is just practice, we have ended. The person who acted as Enrique is Hermano Harris, and he is now a second MTC teacher for our district. We now have two more practice investigators named David (our teacher, Hermano Ostler) and Leonardo (same person who acted as Enrique). We taught David two days ago for the first time and it was a very humbling (and frustrating) experience!! He wasn't even paying attention! I wanted to grab him by the shoulders and yell "Escuchame!!" (Listen to me!). HAHA! But it was a great experience! We will teach Leonardo for the first time later today.

Teaching is incredible. We have also taught in the TRC program (Teaching Real Citizens). This program involves having real people, whether inactive, active, or nonmember, come and listen to missionaries teach them. That was a cool experience. We focused on getting to know the people before teaching the lesson because that builds trust. In one of the cases that we taught a real person, our conversation with her flowed beautifully. I could understand her, she could understand us. We were joking with her and we were having a great time. It is an amazing experience. Not only is the language amazing, but the Spirit is also wonderful. There are moments in lessons where you just have to say something! You just have to bear your testimony while looking into the people's eyes because you feel so strongly that you should! It is awesome.

The language is coming along very well. I can go much of the day speaking Spanish, but I don't do it often. I need to work on that because it is best to speak your language every day. There have been some (not many haha) moments during lessons where I say something in Spanish that flows so smoothly that it sounds like I have been speaking Spanish for years. Those moments are fantastic. When you don't have to pause or think about just say it, and it is understood.

So I will answer the rest of your questions. Yes, Elder Flake is in my district. We found out that we both know Jon already. We even found out that before our missions, we were in the same room together during Jon's farewell. I was watching two skinny kids playing ping pong, and lo and behold, one of the kids was Elder Flake! Elder Flake is a very good man. We have become very good friends.

I have gotten sick again here at the MTC, but it is okay. My companion is giving me Airbourne and that helps. And yes, we cannot shake hands. We do "elbow taps" instead haha! Thank you to everyone who has written me (Masan, Grandma/Grandpa, Katie, Jon, Brandon, Bro. Jones, etc.), I will write back as soon as I can today. It is really hard to find time to write so much so please be patient with me haha!

And your last question: Fast Sunday was really good. Me and my companion had a personal and companionship fast. I didn't really feel much hunger because we had so much that we were doing that day so I didn't really think about it very much!

I forgot to mention last and my companion have been assigned as Sacrament Coordinators, which means we are in charge of assigning the prayers for Sacrament Meeting, and taking down and setting up the Sacrament.

Me and my companion get along very well. We joke around all the time! HE hates cats so much so I will often tease him by asking something like "Usted quire muchos gatos?" (Do you want a lot of cats?) and he will sometimes respond by saying something like "No! Los gatos son de el diablo!" (No! Cats are of the devil!) Haha I love Elder Kearl. We race each other up and down the stairs as well. We have a record of 15 seconds to run up 4 floors and we want to cut it down to 10 haha. It is just a fun thing that we do to give the day some extra excitement. Me and Elder Kearl don't really have any serious problems as a companionship. So that is good.

However, God is teaching me to be patient, because there ARE some people in the district that drive me absolutely nuts. It is often very loud during study times so I have to be patient and not react with anger to all the people that are goofing off during a spiritual time. But I know it is normal that people are bothered by other people's quirks...and it is often very simple things. For example, one Hermana's voice annoys me to death. But, I need to be patient! And patience has helped me to feel the Spirit.

I am 13 pounds heavier than when I last weighed myself, which was probably a few months before my mission, maybe more. So I don't know if that weight came from the MTC or not, but I wouldn't be surprised if it did. I am working out like crazy during gym time so that helps me stay in good shape.

I had a cool spiritual experience earlier in the week. Actually there are 2 that I want to mention. First, I was doing some studying on some things, and I was thinking how it was possible that one such as God could work through someone such as me. I thought of an analogy that I learned in seminary. Diamonds are formed from coal, when the coal is pure, and is exposed to heat, pressure, and time. So in life, this is comparable to trials. We begin as coal, but trials refine us into diamonds. So I shared with my district some of my feelings (because we do that every day), and told them that I felt God was telling me "Chase, I have not called a diamond to serve this mission. I have called a lump of coal. And as you serve I can make you into a diamond." I thought that was cool.

Also, we watched a video recording of a talk given by David A. Bednar in the MTC in the past. He spoke of recognizing the Spirit. His answer to the question "How do we know if we are feeling the Spirit, or if it is just our own thoughts?" was "Quit worrying about it!!" He said that we are not guided by the Spirit when we sit down and analyze how we feel. We are guided as we get up, move forward. As we keep covenants and press onward, our thoughts and feelings merge with the Spirit. So, often, spiritual promptings come in the form of simple thoughts that we don't immediately recognize as spiritual impressions.

Love, Elder Anderson

Week 2 Photos

This is an inside joke between Chase and his brothers, specifically Ben.  
This little guy is named "Birdy".