Monday, June 24, 2013

Mormon Tabernacle Choir AND a Worldwide Missionary Broadcast!

Hello Everyone,

This week has been fantastic! I have learned a lot, and had many great experiences. We went on exchange with two areas this week, Winona and Sparta. In Winona, I was with an Elder, who flew out to Minnesota with me but was not in my district. The next day I traded off and went on exchange with an Elder in Sparta. He is from Salt Lake City, Utah and we actually know a few of the same people! He is really cool, and I had a really great time working with him, and getting to know him. He has been out for about a year. Anyways, with these two exchanges back to back things were kind of crazy, but really fun! I absolutely love going on exchange with other missionaries.

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir has been in Minnesota for about a week now, performing at the Target Center I believe. They also presented a plaque to the city of Black River Falls, Wisconsin. Unfortunately we weren't permitted to attend either of these events, but on Saturday we were given permission to go out of our areas to meet up with four other missionaries to visit the area of Black River Falls and to see how receptive the people were to the choir's visit. We met with some really cool people! A lot of Native Americans live there, and we even met with a woman who lived in India. The woman from India was Hindu, but she loved the message that we had to share with her, and she was highly interested in the standards of our beliefs for her son. She isn't too committed just yet, but I think in time she will accept the gospel.

We have had a lot of exchanges and trips this month, and for our car we are only allowed 900 miles a month for our area. This presents a problem! The only solution is bike riding. I was actually kind of excited at first, a new experience, riding a bike in dress clothes. The thrill began to ware as I began to realize that my bike came with a generic bike seat, it felt like I was sitting on a piece of metal! And to get really personal with you all, I have an extremely flat derriere. That equals out to NO extra padding! I still have a bruise from all the bike riding we have been doing, but I purchased a big padded bike seat, and things are much better now.

As some of you may have heard, there was a worldwide missionary broadcast this Sunday. Elder(s) L. Tom Perry, Neil L. Andersen, Russell M Nelson, Boyd K. Packer, and President Thomas S. Monson all spoke to us! One of the first speakers, Elder L. Tom Perry announced that Facebook, Email, and Mormon.Org will be open to missionaries to use during less productive hours of the day (the morning). They also shared many videos with missionaries using iPads and Tablets. A man who works for the church was visiting some family in our ward, and told us that the church has piloted the use of tablets and iPads and that they will be sending those out soon enough! Very exciting news :) It will be at least a few months until this announcement will take affect, but still exciting nonetheless. There was also a HUGE emphasis on member missionary work. Maybe in the near future we will have an overwhelming amount of member referrals that we won't be able to handle them all!

This week my companion and I have had an extraordinary amount of canceled appointments. I know there are people out there who have been prepared for us to share this great message with them, we are just having a really difficult time finding them!

As always, thank you all SO much for your letters and emails! I am always so inspired after reading and responding to all of your kind words :) I can't wait to see you all again in two years. Love and miss you all!

Best Wishes,

Elder Kyle William Andrews

Monday, June 17, 2013

Another Incredible Week

This week has been both challenging, and rewarding. I am constantly reminded about how difficult missionary work is, but the rewards we receive from this devotion. The more you learn and improve as a missionary, and as a child of God, the more you realize you have more to work on. It's kind of a frustrating process if you think about it, we can never be truly perfect like Jesus.

This week I only went on one exchange, with an elder. He was really nice and encouraging, and I really enjoyed working with him! I love going on exchanges and meeting other missionaries in our area. I learn so many incredible lessons from them, I just wish we could do it more often!

We found out this week that President Monson and President Packer are speaking to us on Sunday, June 23rd, and that they will be making some big missionary announcements. I wish I could have been in the MTC to see President Monson, but a broadcast will be cool too! I will have to update you all on what happens :)

Our Mission Conference with Elder Holland, Elder Callister, Elder Dube, and Bishop Stevenson was amazing! Elder Holland was my favorite. He talked about the importance of missionary work, and never going inactive when you return home from your mission. His words were so inspired, and I learned SO much from him! At the end of his speech, he said to "always be true". That really stuck with me! Afterwards, he announced that he was changing the closing song to Hymn #165 "Abide With Me; 'Tis Eventide". We were all kind of stunned, but proceeded to sing. While we were singing, I felt the spirit surround me, and I felt not only God's love for me, but also Great Grandma and Great Grandpa Prior's love for me. This feeling was overwhelming, and reminded me that we sang this song during Great Grandpa Prior's funeral service. Elder Holland was inspired to change the closing hymn, and I swear he did it just for me. This experience was truly incredible.

Currently we are working with about three different investigators. An african-american woman who has a child, but split up with his father. She still lives with his father, but is moving towards finding a new place. She is very accepting of our teachings, but hasn't felt inclined to go to church or to be baptized. We are also teaching an african-american man. His wife is a member of the church, but he is staying true to his beliefs. He recently quit chewing tobacco, and we have been working with him on the Word of Wisdom. He is waiting for the answers to his prayers, but I think he knows that he wants to be baptized. We are also teaching a Hmong gentleman, but he speaks English. His wife is a member of the church, and he has been attending church for a while. They are waiting for him to get his green card so they can get a marriage certificate and be baptized. They had a Hmong wedding ceremony, but never got a marriage license, so he cannot be baptized yet. He lost his green card at a gas station, so we are just waiting for him to get a replacement. Money is tight in their family, so it is taking a little longer than expected.

We are also working with a new member of the church. He was baptized about a week before I came into the mission. We are teaching him and his children about the gospel and how it strengthens families. I know that my purpose in serving a mission was for family. In fact, the second FCCLA purpose is "to strengthen the function of the family as a basic unit of society." What better way to do this, than through the gospel.

We are still tracting all the time, but I have been working on planning lessons with members of the church to break up our tracting time ever so slightly.

My companion is finished his missionary service in about three weeks, and then I will have a new companion.

Thank you all for your love and support. I love and miss you all, and can't wait to see you again in two years!

Best Wishes,

Elder Kyle William Andrews

Monday, June 10, 2013

Missionary Excitement

Hello Everyone,

This past week has been quite interesting to say the least. First and foremost, the "beats ban" was removed from our mission. Now we can listen to music with a beat, still no EFY music though. One of the missionaries brought out a CD from his archives and has shared it with us all, it is really something. They are all songs from the Primary Children's Songbook, but they are hip hop versions of these songs. Kind of odd that we are getting excited over music, but it's apparently a big deal down here. President Clements keeps a tight ship, but we have a very obedient mission, so it all works out!

This past week, I went on four exchanges. It was fantastic! My first exchange was with a Spanish missionary. I had my first official Spanish lesson, which was an experience, and he even translated a couple of things for me. I only know very few select words in Spanish from Dora The Explorer, like Hola, so it wasn't exactly effective for my teaching, but it was cool to watch the lessons in different languages. Next, I exchanged with one of our zone leaders. This is the Elder that gave us the CD with the hip hop primary songs. He is a really cool guy, and I had a great time serving with him. Then I went on exchanges and Elder who came out to the mission with me, so we have not had very much experience. He was super sick though, because earlier that day we all had a zone conference and went to 5 Guys Burgers and Fries. Pretty much our entire zone felt sick, but he got the worst of it. And last, the other day I exchanged with a Hmong missionary. Unfortunately I wasn't able to sit in on any Hmong lessons, but hearing him speak his language was really cool! I have another exchange this week, but I am not sure who I will be exchanging with yet. It's nice getting to learn from other Elders in our mission though, and meeting so many new people!

This past week we also received a pretty cool announcement. On June 15th, we will be meeting together as a mission to hear from Elder Holland, Elder Callister, Elder Dube, and Bishop Stevenson. I'm sure it will be a pretty amazing day, and it will be great to hear from such influential church leaders. I will have to let you know next week how it goes, and share some of the things that they said.

As I mentioned earlier, this week we had a zone conference. One of the highlights, was hearing from Sister Clements. She had a great lesson for us on etiquette. It reminded me of all of the etiquette dinners I have attended for FCCLA events, I loved it! It shocks me sometimes to learn that some people do not know about basic etiquette, which is why they have to teach these skills to all of the missionaries. Crazy! I am so glad that we have President and Sister Clements in our mission. They are so great, and I love hearing from them and learning about them each time we get to see them!

On Sunday I was asked to give a talk to introduce myself to the ward, and to talk about any gospel principle of my choosing. I talked about myself for a while, and the various things I have been involved with throughout my life, and related it to the sense of belonging, and families. For the rest of my time, I talked about families, and how we can strengthen our families. They didn't inform me before hand that this was also the day of a missionary farewell. I talked about how difficult it was to leave my family for two years, but that it would be well worth it in the end. Then I shared the Facebook quote about missionaries (noun) someone who leaves their family for two years so that others can spend eternity with theirs. By this time someone in one of the front two rows was crying. After I spoke, they announced the next speaker and that he will be departing for the MTC this Wednesday. That woman was his mother. It reminded me of my farewell, and how truly difficult that was. Maybe family wasn't the best topic after all!

Just so you all know, I am fully aware that my birthday is in a little over a month. I have already begun working on my classic birthday list, but it will not be as beautifully designed as it has been in the past. I apologize, but there is not much I can do! If only I had my laptop with me :)

Thank you all for your support. Missionary work is not easy. I must work harder and press on, even if it is challenging. Your prayers and kind words have helped me so much, and I truly appreciate you all. I am constantly reminded of my favourite quotation in the entire world, by the one and only, Walt Disney. "If you can dream it, you can do it." I know this to be true, and I will not give up. I can do it. I love and miss you all!

Best Wishes,

Elder Kyle William Andrews

Monday, June 3, 2013

Elder Andrews' First Area

Hello Everyone,

This past week has been one of new experiences, and has taught me a lot of new unexpected lessons. On Wednesday, we flew out to Minnesota and were met at the airport by President and Sister Clements. They are so great! They both have such great big hearts, and want to help us to the best of their ability to make this mission the best it can possibly be :) And well, Minnesota is a lot different than I was expecting. The pictures that I googled looked very similar to New York City. It is definitely different! It is full of trees, and is quite flat. There are lakes everywhere, and there are seriously like hardly any big buildings.

As soon as we all collected our bags, we loaded up on vans and drove to the mission home in Bloomington, Minnesota. Our group that flew out was the best! 25 of us flew out to Minnesota, and I was the travel leader so it was so cool getting to know everyone from the MTC that was going to our same mission. Only three other people from my district are in this mission, so it was exciting to meet so many other people.

At the mission home we met a lot of the senior missionaries, and the mission AP's. They were all so kind and welcoming, you couldn't help but feel loved. It was very different, and extremely nerve racking, but we knew we were in good company.

The weather out here reminds me a lot of Utah. When we arrived, it was quite hot and humid. I absolutely LOVED it! About an hour later, it was freezing cold and raining. I guess I will need to invest in a good rain jacket soon.

At the very end of the day, we had a big joint meeting with the trainers who had just arrived, and all of the incoming missionaries. We then received our assignments. I am currently serving in La Crosse, Wisconsin. It is a car area, and the day we arrived, this area got a new car! We drive a 2013 Toyota Corolla.

My companion really is very nice. He loves being a missionary, and he has a great testimony of the gospel. He is from Arizona, and this is his last transfer, so he will be going home in 6-weeks.

Our apartment is... different. I knew adjusting would be hard, coming from Alpine Village (my college apartment) and from living at home for the last two-weeks before I left. We have a walk in closet, a room for study, a living room, a kitchen, a storage closet, and a bathroom. It is quite outdated, but fairly well kept. I just take things day by day. I organize and clean as I go, and as things are... disrupted... I fix them :)

On our first night, we weren't able to drive all the way to Wisconsin (about a 3 hour drive from Bloomington), so we stayed with our Zone Leaders in Rochester, Minnesota. They are so great! They have so many funny stories to tell, and they even gave me a special gift. Since this is my first transfer, I am officially a "greenie". As a result, they made me a green planner! Pretty cool :)

A couple of days ago, while tracting, we met this older Catholic woman. Her husband cheated on her, and has since then moved out, and she recently lost her driving privileges. Her neighbour told us that she had dementia, and as we talked to her she repeated things she had said multiple times, and went back to the fact that her neighbours big tree had been shedding leaves all over her driveway. We talked to her for a bit, and then helped her to rake and sweep the leaves and throw them away. She was the sweetest elderly lady, and afterwards, she gave us both a can of DIET COKE! I seriously have been having withdrawals, so I almost felt like crying when she brought them out. At this point, I had not had Diet Coke since our plane ride to Minnesota. Luckily now that it is our P-Day, I have stocked up, and will be fine now. Unfortunately, she had no interest in our message, but it was great talking with her and getting to know her.

This mission has been rather difficult, but I am still headstrong. We are constantly sworn at, and get doors slammed in our face. There are some of the kindest and rudest people I have ever met in my life here. I know one day it will be worth it. It just takes a lot of patience, which I am still trying to develop.

To finish, I want to share a poem that was given to us in the MTC by one of the Sisters in our district.

Is It Worth It?
"Is it worth it," I said as I reached our place,
"To get the door slammed in our face?"
"Is it worth it," I said with a heavy sigh,
"To wear this stupid shirt and tie?"
"It is worth it," I said, "When it's fourty below
To walk for miles in a foot of snow?"
I wonder what my friends would say
If I were to GO HOME today.
It's not what your friends would say,
But what the Lord would have you do today.
What if the Savior would have said,
"I think I'll give up before I'm dead.
Is it worth it Father, to do this thing
For a bunch of people I've never seen;
To sweat blood from every pore,
So man may live forever more?"
It's funny that I'm not struck down.
My trials aren't that bad at all.
Compared to Christ's, they're kind of small.
So if you're feeling kind of sore,
Because somebody slammed the door,
Try sweating blood from every pore
For people you've never seen before!

Thank you all so much for you support. I love you all and miss you so very much! I love getting all of your emails and letters, they keep me going :)


Elder Kyle William Andrews