Tuesday, March 26, 2013


(Note from mom:  Fair warning... this post contains a hilarious - and slightly gross - story about Elder Anderson's adventures with avocados.  Worth the read, though!)


Thank you for your emails everyone and for all of your love and support. Today was a great week. By the way, yes, I have received the package and letter. I was swarmed by elders when I opened the package, because I opened it up at a zone activity today. I was able to get the Peeps out alive. But I decided to be nice and share the jelly beans... ha-ha!!

I will begin my email with some food stories:

I am liking much of the food. It is really good. I often have milaneza, which is a meat that is pretty much the same as fried chicken. It's really good. I also have tons of soup, and that is usually very, very, very good. Here in Mexico City, people often ask if you want "refresca o agua”, which means soda or water. I have learned that when they say "agua", they actually don't mean water...they mean half water and half juice, ha-ha! That is cool. I have had melon, pineapple, and other kinds. I have also had a drink that was made of grounded up rice, milk, and water...it was really good as well.

There is a fruit stand close to our apartment...it is incredible!!!!! I think it was last week that I got a tray of strawberries, drenched in honey and granola...oh ya, oh ya. It was so good.

Okay, I have officially had some weird food. En la casa de Junue (in Junue's house), I had pork skin....I am not sure how I feel about that. It is a really crunchy food, and it basically is pig skin. It is not terrible, but when I eat it while thinking about the fact that it is pig skin, it is kinda nasty.

I eat a lot of fruit here. Members and others love to give us fruit. But there is one fruit that is absolutely disgusting. I dont think I have ever had it before my mission...avocados. Oh...my...gosh...they are HORRID. And you know what? They are everywhere! Avocados are absolutely the most diabolical, most horrifyingly disgusting, and rancid things that could possibly be consumed in this world. It is like someone skinned a lizard, rubbed the skin in cow manure for 20 minutes, then threw it in a pot of boiling melted plastic, left it there for 5 days, then added 17 bars of soap, then left it for another 15 days, and then took it out and molded it into a ball, and then cut it into pieces and gave some to me...I HATE IT!

I have a funny story about avocados. Ayer, el domingo, (yesterday, Sunday) I was so hungry after church. I was craving dad's roast beef, potatoes, rolls, and corn. But I knew that our lunch appointment would not include any of those things. We went to a member's house for this appointment, and she fed us. Anyways, we walked in and I saw something dreadful on the table...an empty avocado shell....oh no, oh no, oh no, oh no, oh no. We might be having avocados. Well, she gave us spaghetti first, and that was great...then came the real meal...milaneza (the really yummy meat I mentioned earlier), and avocados, and I think cucumbers. Oh no. I had to get through it. There were two slices of avocados...two dreadful slices. When the member sister was not in the room, I made it known to my companion that I really didn't like avocados. He understood and gave me a tip. Take one piece, but it into a tortilla, and add cheese, salsa, and salt. Then eat that...it helps to cover the taste. So, I started to do this, and it helped a little. There was some soda there too, and that helped me swallow each bite down. Because I wasn't enjoying it, I was eating slower than my companion. He finished first. So, I was left to eat as the lady and my companion sat there in silence waiting for me to finish....I was so embarrassed, and was really struggling. Why is she just watching as I eat!?! And why isn't my companion saying anything to help me out!? The lady eventually left to the kitchen...I gagged once. I told my companion I couldn't do it. I couldn't finish the avocados. When the lady came back, I asked to use the restroom. She said yes and I went. I really just wanted to take a timeout, so to speak. I needed a break. But that is not what I received. Because in the bathroom was an awful smell, and two pieces of poop in the toilet. Oh my gosh, this was not helping me to get fresh air. When I came out, the lady was still there. I was praying for help to finish the food. She then left...NOW WAS MY CHANCE!! I turned to my companion and commanded him with my eyes to eat the pieces of avocado on my plate. He got the message. He grabbed most of it and ate it. I grabbed the rest, shoved it in my mouth and ate it, then I leaned back and felt accomplished. I had conquered the avocado...with the help of my companion...ha-ha!

Okay, here are some updates about investigators and others.

Victor received his answer...I cannot express the joy I had. Oh my gosh it was incredible. We talked to him some more and I think he is on track for baptism once again. At an earlier appointment, I had promised him that his answer had already come. When he had cancelled his baptism, I told him that I KNEW his answer had come, but he did not recognize it. So this time, he DID recognize it, and I was so happy. Mom, you would love his little daughter. Her name is Abril. She is the sweetest little girl. She is so funny.

Ian is struggling. I did not want to mention what he was struggling with in the last email. Remember how I said he and I just kinda cried and we and my companion talked? The reason why is because he is contemplating killing himself.  (Note from mom:  Please pray for Ian!!)  I want to cry just thinking about it. He has Word of Wisdom problems and little support from his family...and he is not progressing much. We are still trying to help him.

Victoria is going through a lot. We want to invite her to be baptized but can hardly ever enter the house and talk to her.

We have a new investigator named Alvaro. He is a nice man who wants to change his life. We have invited him to read the Book of Mormon.

I am really getting better with the language. I study the language like crazy, ha-ha! I still struggle to understand people...it is really frustrating. But I can understand a little more every once in a while.

Zaragoza is in Mexico City, by the way. The ruins were in Teotihuacan. Here are some quick interesting things about Mexico:

There are buses called "combis". They are tiny little things that hold about 20 people. If you want to catch one, you have to flag it down, then the door opens and you get in and are squished with all these people. You pay the driver and he pulls a rope to close the door, and he drives. When he is close to where you want to go, you tell him, and he stops.

The garbage system is pretty cool. There are often no trucks to pick up garbage. So what sometimes happens is a man goes down all the streets and rings a bell. Then people come out with all their trash and put it on this big cart that another man has. Then you pay that man. I thought that was interesting.

Also, if you want to sell something here, you can sell it on the streets. There are many tiendas
(shops). You could also put a megaphone on your car and drive up and down streets blaring this really loud recording of the items or services you are selling. Or, you just yell. Yell in a unique way so people recognize it and will want to buy your stuff...ha-ha!!

Ok, I need to go! I will try and get letters sent!

Elder Anderson

Monday, March 18, 2013

Pictures from Mexico!

 MTC companions going to the same mission - Mexico Mexico City East!!

 This is one of Elder Anderson's teachers in the MTC

This picture was taken about 45 minutes after arriving in Mexico City.  
The following pictures are of Mexico City as well.

At the ruins during P-Day

Pyramid of the Sun

"Birdy" at the top of Pyramid of the Sun

In Elder Anderson's words:  "Me... being a stud!"

Zaragoza - First Area

Another week in Mexico City! The mission has been absolutely fantastic. I will start by answering questions and talking about some other things:

1. Mail. I have almost zero time to write letters, so everyone please bear with me!! I will try and get into the flow of writing letters every P-Day for those who write me. I can receive mail and packages, but I have to turn in a card before...so until I do that, I won't get any mail. Don't worry though, I will get it all eventually. Send all mail to the mission office. 

2. Zaragoza. This is the name of our area. (Mom's note:  Zaragoza is a suburb more north of downtown Mexico City)

3. Companion. Elder Cardona. He is from Columbia and is learning English. I help him with that. He is really cool and funny. We love to joke around and work hard.

4. Food. No street tacos yet!! I need to wait until my stomach settles down!!

Okay, experiences with teaching...this is my favorite part! The following is a list of experiences, from week 1 and week 2 here....in no particular order.

1. Victor is an investigator with a wife and little daughter. He was NOT baptized on the 17th...I was so disappointed...here is why: he needs an answer about whether or not the Book of Mormon is true, the church is true, and if baptism is the right path. As representatives of Jesus Christ, my companion and I promised two things. First, my companion said that his answers would come before the 17th. And I promised that the answers would come in the way that he needed. I know that both of these are true...so, if he was promised an answer, why wasn't he baptized? Well, I had a prompting earlier this week. It gave me comfort and worry. It said that even though the answer WOULD come, that doesn't mean he will be able to recognize it...I was comforted because it was confirmed to me that the answer did come. It worried me though because that also suggested Victor might not recognize it. That turned out to be true. Our next lesson with him will be about recognizing the Spirit.

2. Ian is a less active young man who is 17 years of age. His story is a sad one. I absolutely cried as I tried to teach and comfort him with my companion on the street one day. During much of this discussion, I just silently sobbed. I wanted nothing more than to help him. In this moment, I felt incredible charity. I wanted to do anything for him...I even thought to myself that I would die for him. He and I both cried on the curb as we tried to help him. He has many problems. He is a great kid, just has some struggles.

3. We have a new investigator named Junue. She has 3 kids, and her husband is the brother of an active member named Julio. I invited her to be baptized, to which she has accepted. The 31st of this month is the date.

4. Victoria. Investigator. Never seems to be home...or so we are told by those who live around her. We want to invite her to be baptized.

5. Geovany is less active. His mother died yesterday. My companion and I went to the chapel to give comfort. I don't know if I have ever seen such sorrow before in my life. Out of the bishop's office walked the daughter, Geovany, and a young teenage son of the mother. They were really sad. That was a new experience for me, to see that. But we gave hugs, only to the guys of course, and went back to work.

6. Anna Laura. She has a nonmember aunt. Once during a lesson, I felt prompted to ask these two if we could sing for them. They said yes. And we did. We sang "Creo en Cristo" (I Believe in Christ). When Anna said the closing prayer, she began to cry. That was a touching experience. We have used songs in other lessons as well, and it has never failed to invite the Spirit.

7. I have also had the opportunity to seal the annointing of oil on a child's head in Spanish. Also, we have taught twice in church. During the second hour, each Sunday, we teach less actives and investigators. That is fun, but rough because of the language...but I am greatly improving and loving it. Our ward is enormous...but only about 50 are active, maybe less...we have lots of work to do!! 

Okay, here is a funny story!! 

One day we came home, my companion and I. I saw something on my shoe and casually asked my companion what it was. We didn't think much of it. Then I saw the bottom of my other shoe...it was covered in mud! My companion yelled out the question IS IT POOP?? and I said no, of course not...then I smelt it...it was dog poop. These shoes are currently hanging outside our apartment, 4 stories above ground, in a plastic bag...I will clean them today....maybe! haha

Okay, here is a typical day...

Wake up at 6:30 and work out...sometimes I wake up late...from 7:00 - 8:00, we get ready. The shower is almost always freezing. The toilet is like a foot away from the wall so I have to sit all weird in order to use it. Anyways, at 8:00, we study...we study the gospel, and especially how it can bless the lives of all the people we will teach today. Then at 9:00 we have companionship study...we practice teaching each other, plan, other stuff, and then leave. Then we teach and teach and teach less actives, investigators, and we ask for referrals from active members. We are fed lunch at around two...then we teach some more. We get home at 9 or 9:30. We plan again, and then bed at 10:30. It is fun! 

Language is coming along great. It is hard here in Mexico. I can speak relatively well, but I can hardly understand anything. Even simple phrases...they talk so fast! But I am improving. 

Yo sé que esta iglesia es verdadera. Mediante de Jesucristo, podemos encontrar paz y gozo constantemente en esta vida. Dios nos ama. No podemos comprender el amor de Dios. Y sé que José Smith fue un profeta de Dios. Tenemos un profeta en la tierra hoy tambien. Dios quiere que nosotros sigamos el ejemplo de Jesucristo en todo que hacemos. Yo sé con toda de mi corazón que el Evangelio es el camino correcto. Encontraremos felicidad cuando vivimos segun a los principios de el Evangelio. Tengo en testimonio de la Expiacion. Jesucristo es nuestro Salvador, y morió para todas de las personas en el mundo. Yo lo sé.

I love you all and thank you for your love and support.

I will write to you next week!


Elder Anderson

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

First Letter From Mexico


Here I am in Mexico! The past two weeks have probably been the most stressful, exhausting, rewarding, busy, and incredible days of my life. I have a great deal to write about. First of all, I was part of a group of missionaries that were the first group in 6 months to receive visas to Mexico while in the MTC. I don't know if that refers to us being the first in the whole MTC or the zone or whatever. But, either way, it was very unexpected. My entire district in the MTC is now in the field, including Elder Kearl, who received his visa the day after I did.

Anyway, we said goodbyes, did last minute pictures and stuff, and then finally went to bed on our last night in the United States (haha... my companion and I liked to point out these moments like "Hey! This is our last shower in the U.S.!")

So here is how the day, when we were to leave the U.S., played out: Elder Kearl and Elder Ames would leave together at 3 in the morning, and Elder Lancaster and I would leave at 5 a.m. At 2:45ish, we all woke up and said one last goodbye to Elder Kearl and Ames...then we went back to bed and Elder Lancaster and I woke up once again so that we could leave. Here is what happened. We woke up so late. And we were not ready. We had about a half hour to finish packing and other stuff. I don't know if I have ever been more scared in my life than during that time. We absolutely had to move as fast as we possibly could. And we did. And we made it! I was exhausted and stressed after this. On the bus leaving the MTC, the driver told Elder Lancaster and I that we had to be his little helpers. We had to watch the road, make sure that the driver doesn't fall asleep and kill us all, and that sort of stuff. I really wanted to just sit there and relax, but we were given this extra duty. God wanted to test my patience I suppose, and I don't blame Him! 

The drive to the airport was relatively normal. But, I was very scared. I was scared of the mission field and lots of other stuff. I was REALLY scared of the airport. While in the bus, I did not know how much money was on my debit card, or how much my bags weighed. I was scared I wouldn't be able to pay for my bags and figure out the whole airport business. 

When we got off the bus, I helped unload the truck full of other bags. There were many, because there were lots and lots of missionaries leaving the same time we were. Then, everyone split up and Elder Lancaster and I had no idea where to go...so we did the typical thing...pick a crowd, and follow it. We did that. We found some elders that we knew who seemed just as stressed and confused as we were, and we worked together to find the baggage line. I had enough money. My bags were both a little over 50 pounds, but they let it slide. After this, I realized that Elder Lancaster had run off with others...he tends to do this sometimes, just go where he wants. So I was alone. Eventually I found the line to the terminals. In that line, I talked to some people, said hi to many people, and talked about the gospel with one man...he had no interest haha! I reached the terminal, met up with other elders, had breakfast, called home, and got on the plane to Phoenix. On almost the whole ride there, I talked to someone about the gospel and invited him to read the BOM. I did not have a BOM with me at the time, but he said he would look it up. Then we arrived in Phoenix and left for Mexico City. On this plane, I gave away two BOMs...one was to a young man who had been working for his family in the U.S. for 9 months. This flight was his first time home to his family since 9 months ago...and he was 17 years old, I think - if I remember right. He was baptized, but told me he had fallen away a little. He did not have a BOM, so I took one from my buddy and fellow missionary, Jaron Whitfield, and gave it to this young man. The second BOM I gave was to a man next to me on the plane. I wrote my testimony inside and gave it to him. We talked for awhile. He did not know very much English, so I talked to him in both Spanish and English. He committed to read only part of the book. Then we arrived in Mexico. 

The assistants to the president greeted us. To my great relief, I saw my two friends, Elder Ames and Kearl waiting there as well!!! I was so happy! My stress was so high and seeing them really helped me. 

We all went outside...oh my gosh the air is filthy....you can just tell by breathing...it is so dirty. But it's okay! We were picked up by two brothers in vans and drove to the presidents house. T The roads are absolutely crazy...I mean, crazy. The lines on the streets mean practically nothing in some areas, and as my new companion told me, the red light does not mean stop...it means stop if you want to stop! Ah!! It was so nuts....honking was rampant. One person even smacked another person's car for doing who knows what! 

We arrived and were greeted by President and Sister Hicken. So you know, I am with other elders during this whole process. Elder Kearl was in a different van, but we met once again at the house. We were talked to, had interviews, dinner, and then bed. I was so, so, so, so tired. I even started to dose off while the president was talking to us, and he called me out on it - haha! Dinner was absolutely fantastic. I am not a huge fan of enchiladas, but these ones were godly. Absolutely delicious. In the morning, we took pictures and then left to the chapel. 

At the chapel, we were trained on how to use our mission budgets. After, we met a LOT of missionaries, which were all under the direction of President Hicken. There was maybe 160 or so of them. (Note from Elder Anderson's mom - This was probably a transfer day.  That's when new missionaries are introduced into the field.)  We received our new companions, and mine is Elder Cardona. He is so cool. He knows some English, but not much. We have been instructed to help our companions speak English. That is very important. After this meeting, my companion called a cab, which by the way was extremely tiny - haha, and we arrived at the apartment. It is on the fourth floor. I did not enjoy hauling my luggage up those stairs! Our apartment is pretty cool. When we arrived, I unpacked a little bit and then we went to work. We had a lunch appointment with a member. I know almost nothing that she was saying. I just sat there and threw in my 2 cents every now and then. 

There are many things I want to say, but there are too many to remember. I will cover some of the highlights of this first week in Mexico. First, here are some unique things I have discovered in Mexico. 

1. I am absolutely loving the food. I have had some nasty meals, but certainly not many. Almost everything has been incredible, and I love it.
2. The roads are nuts. I am assuming that jaywalking is nowhere near being illegal. My companion and I do it every day to cross the street...just go when there are no cars! Some cars speed up when we cross...that's a little scary. 

3. There are dogs everywhere!!!!! It is so weird and cool at the same time! Some are really nice and others are definitely not! 

4. The language fascinates me. I am progressing in rolling my R's, if you know what I mean (like in the word "perro"). It is interesting what is hard for others here to say in English. For example, one man I met could hardly tell the difference between the sounds of the words "Dad" and "dead". Many struggle with the words "thirsty" "thirty" and "dirty". It is hilarious watching them try. And it is funny for them how I struggle to roll my Rs. That is more important that I thought. If I try to say dog in Spanish, but don't roll my Rs, some people think that I am saying "but". 

By the way, my P-Day is Monday. 

I love the people. Here are some lesson highlights-- 

1. We showed the Joseph Smith movie to a man and his wife and little daughter. He had many questions for us. His name is Victor. He has been taught a lot before I arrived. We invited him to be baptized, to which he eventually agreed for the 17th of March. During this meeting, I bore my testimony to him and began to cry. I totally lost it - haha! The tears just flowed. 

2. We have had many lessons with people and have made invitations to read the Book of Mormon, come to church, endure to the end, pray, etc. We have handed out pamphlets on cars in the streets and Book of Mormons as well. That is fun. There is a rule however...and I struggle to accept this rule. We cannot contact, unless we are specifically directed by the Spirit. Otherwise, no. This is hard. I want to talk to everyone! I want to contact everyone and teach everyone! But unless the Spirit specifically directs, we have to stick with the plan of working with members, and strengthening "menos activos" (less actives) and investigators, and such. I am learning about this. 

I have little time. I can talk about more stuff later. 


Elder Anderson

Friday, March 8, 2013

The First 24 Hours

Elder Anderson with President and Sister Hicken

Elder Anderson with his trainer, Elder Cardona

He's in Mexico!

We heard from Elder Anderson last Friday, the 1st.  We had a whirlwind, crazy 4 minute conversation.  He told us he received his visa and was leaving Monday morning for Mexico City.  We heard from him again Monday just before he got on the plane - another whirlwind, crazy 4 minute conversation.  Then, we received an email Monday night from him.  Here's his email and his mission president's email as well along with some pictures of Elder Anderson and his trainer, Elder Cardona.  We are so excited for him!

Just so everyone knows... I am in Mexico. I am not dead on the side of the road. Everything is fine! So far Mexico is crazy. I will explain more later. I can't believe how polluted it is here, and how crazy the roads are. I will email officially next Monday. My mission president and his wife are great. Just wanted to let you know I'm fine!

Elder Anderson

Dear Brother and Sister Anderson,

We have sent you a picture of your son as he arrived here in our mission. He looks good and is happy to be here. We are very grateful to have him as well. We have also included a picture of your son with his trainer, Elder Cardona. We will strive in every way to support, sustain and train your son so that this will be a life changing experience that will help him to grow spiritually, help him to adjust to the culture and deepen his desire to always be obedient with exactness. Thank you for raising such a good young man.

Sincerely Yours,

President and Sister Hicken