Monday, July 29, 2013

First Week in Sparta Wisconsin

July 29, 2013

Hello Everyone,

This week has gone by so quickly, but it has been great! On Monday after our emergency transfer, My new companion and I went to Sparta, washed our clothes, and packed up and went on exchange in Winona, Minnesota for the next two days. Finally on Wednesday, I had my first real day with my new companion. He has been on his mission for a year, officially this last week. He has honestly been an answer to my prayers. He is really down to earth and easy to talk to. We get along really well, and everything just works out so perfectly! Anyways, he is fantastic! He is very dedicated, and is overall just a great missionary :)

I went on exchanges on Monday and Tuesday in Winona, Minnesota. I love being able to go on exchange and to get to know the other elders in our district better, and to develop an individual relationship with them all rather than just talking to them at district meetings on Wednesdays. The only downside is that I do not spend as much time with my own companion, but I guess everything has it's positive and negative attributes.

We have an investigator in Sparta that I was able to teach while I was on exchange a while ago. She is going to be baptized on August 4th. I am so excited to be able to have my first baptism, and especially for her to become a member of the church! I think that this will definitely be a testimony building experience for me, and will allow me to see the fruits of some of our labors. We also have two other investigators who want to be baptized soon, it is just a matter of scheduling everything. August is going to be a very exciting month!

My first Sunday in Sparta was... interesting. They have a branch in Sparta, so it was rather small. The La Crosse ward was massive, so this was a definite culture shock for me! Apparently there were a bunch of visitors this week, so when I told my companion that I was surprised at how small it was, he laughed and said wait until next week ;) I guess we have a lot of work to do here to fill up the branch so that it can one day become a ward! Hopefully we will be able to teach some families and young single adults as well... There are a lot of elderly people in the branch -- a lot of the younger families are only here temporarily, and have plans to move elsewhere so their kids can be involved in a stronger youth program. We will just have to work a little bit faster before all the families move away haha!

A couple of weeks ago, I gave my first haircut -- to one of our zone leaders. For whatever reason, missionaries, mainly elders, refuse to pay to get a haircut from a professional. Luckily, I am a perfectionist, and his haircut turned out pretty great! Afterwards, he asked me if I would like him to cut my hair. I politely declined, and had my hair cut on P-Day at a salon. I know that hair grows, and if any mistakes are made, it will only take a couple of weeks to cover up, but I just can't allow someone who hasn't been trained to cut my hair. Not now, not ever! (I might remind you Mom of the time that you cut my hair in 4th grade... NEVER again!)

I also forgot to include some important information about another exchange in my email last week. We had an appointment at 8:00 PM in La Crosse with a Hmong family. We ate dinner from 5-6:00 and were absolutely stuffed! Around 8 when we arrived at their home, we walked in, and they sat us down at the dinner table. Uh oh! Apparently it is part of the Hmong culture to feed everyone. We told them that we had already eaten, but they insisted and told us that it was rude not to feed your guests. As they prepared the food in the kitchen they brought us drinks. Right before we took a sip, I decided to ask what exactly this reddish drink was that they were serving us was. The father, kindly answered that it was Bud Lite Strawberry-Rita. They are a less-active family, and I sense they don’t remember what exactly the word of wisdom entails if they are serving alcohol to the missionaries! Then they brought out these HUGE plates of food for the two of us, and they all gathered around and watched us eat it. They told us that the pork we were eating was really fresh, and that they had killed it that morning. At this point I was ready to vomit. We asked if we could take the rest home with us, but the father told us that it is offensive in their culture not to eat everything you are served, and that his mother who cooked everything would never forgive us. We just had to push ourselves, and eat everything. It took forever, but we did it! After a quick message we parted our ways, and waddled to our bikes and rode home. I don't think I have ever been that full in my life!

I have had a lot of really great experiences this week, and am excited to see what new things are to come this next week! I will be in Rochester, Minnesota for the next two days on exchange, and then we will return to Sparta, Wisconsin on Tuesday night to continue working in our area on Wednesday after district meeting. Crazy week ahead! Thank you all for your love and support :) Your emails and letters are so meaningful to me, and help me to press forward during hard times. I love and miss you all!

Best Wishes,

Elder Kyle William Andrews

In Sparta, we email at the city library. We have a time limit on those computers though (1 Hour), and then it logs us off. I think I am going to start asking my friends to write me letters instead of emails, so in 1 hour I can just focus on my weekly email home, and my presidents letter.

Thank for everything! Email you next week :)

Monday, July 22, 2013

Happy Birthday in the Mission Field!

July 22, 2013

Hello Everyone,

This week has definitely been one to remember! As you know, I turned 19 on Wednesday, July 17th! Lets be honest, having a birthday in the mission field is different. The entire day I had to just sing the birthday song to myself in my head, but it was a good day! The mission office, and Sister Clements called to wish me a happy birthday though, so it was pretty fantastic! I even waited until Wednesday morning to open my birthday gifts like I was asked to :) I wore my new Burberry Sport cologne (which I love), and a few people even complimented me, which NEVER happens here. Unfortunately that was not enough to get us in to their home to teach them, but it was a start! A part member family in the ward, signed up to have us over for dinner, so I wasn't able to go out to eat on my birthday. One of our investigators, grilled a TON of food, so we rolled out of their house and wabbled home. In the evening we were teaching another one of my favourite investigators. We were teaching the Word of Wisdom, and since she just had her son less than a year ago, she has had to live the Word of Wisdom throughout her pregnancy and nursing. With the faith she has been developing, we knew that this would be an easier commitment, but I was still excited. Two sisters from the ward joint taught with us, and I was on exchange with one of our zone leaders. The two sisters from the ward are converts, and were able to bear such strong testimony about the Word of Wisdom, and the lesson went amazingly well! One of the sisters surprised me, and planned a mini birthday party, complete with cake and ice cream :) It ended up being a pretty good day afterall. Different, but still good.

On Friday we had a zone conference in Rochester, Minnesota. President Clements taught us about faith, and Sister Clements taught us about hastening our work in the mission field. Both were amazing trainings! They also announced the new dress code adjustments that will be taking place in the mission. We have until the end of August to find an alternative to our backpacks, and we can now wear khaki pants! They also abolished the rule about wearing suit coats to proselyte between certain dates. These are definitely some exciting changes in the mission :) Luckily, I already have a messenger bag that I love! I guess you could say I was inspired ;) I have actually received a ton of compliments on it though, and everyone loves the seatbelt. I feel like it was a wise investment, although my Mother might not agree.

My companion and I work on language studies together each day, and I somehow am able to help him with his English. He struggles with his R's and L's, because apparently in Asia their language does not include those letters or sounds. It has been quite interesting trying to help him to pronounce them a little better, but we have made some headway! We focused a lot on pronouncing word, ward, and world. I had to break them down, and re-spell them wurd, wharred, and whirreled. He records me saying them, and tries to repeat them, but it a very difficult process! I am learning a lot about patience, but President Clements told me that I just have to be persistent, and not enabling. The companions that have excused his struggles with the English language have not helped him to improve, so he hasn't been able to progress.

On Saturday evening after a long day at work, we received a call from President Clements. Surprise, emergency transfer! After a week and a half with my companion in La Crosse, Wisconsin, I am being transferred to Sparta, Wisconsin to serve with our new district leader. My current companion and my new companions current companion are going to the cities in Minnesota. They didn't disclose the reason behind the emergency transfer, but I am certain that it was very important! I am excited to be companions with the district leader again though, now I will be able to continue going on exchange with all the missionaries in our area :) I had a brief week and a half break, but now I am back at it! My new companion is great, and I am excited to be able to serve in Sparta, Wisconsin with him. The future is looking bright!

Today at 8:30 AM we exchanged companions, and made the big move. Last night we packed up our apartment, and finished cleaning. It has been a crazy couple of days, but it has been fun! I am excited to see what the future has to hold here in Sparta, and I know that this will be a great experience and that I will learn a lot. Thank you all for your support, kindness, and birthday wishes :) I love and miss you all, talk to you next week!

Best Wishes,

Elder Kyle William Andrews

Mom: The Mini Preach My Gospel does not count as a birthday present in case you were wondering ;) Thank you for the presents and everything though. I really do appreciate everything I got! Thank you so much for everything you do! Love you :)

Monday, July 15, 2013

Another AWESOME Week! (Kyle has been serving two months today!)

July 15th, 2013

Hello Everyone,

This week has been great! On Tuesday, I bid adieu to my first companion who finished serving his two year mission. For the rest of the day, and for part of Wednesday I was on exchange with our zone leaders. In the mission there is something called the "rule of three". You must have either three women, or three men to teach someone of the opposite gender. So for teaching someone of the opposite gender this often creates a problem! We are encouraged to involve members in the ward, but coordinating with their schedules can often be a challenge. While I was on exchange though, we were already a group of three! It was awesome, we could teach whoever, whenever :)

On Wednesday afternoon, I picked up my new companion. He is from a city near Tokyo, Japan and has got quite an accent. He is very quiet, but very kind. He is also very little, which is quite the contrast for my height. Because my companion is foreign, and speaks Japanese as his first language, we now have added language study to our schedule. We wake up at 6:30 AM, have personal study at 8:00 AM, companionship study at 9:00 AM, new missionary training at 10:00 AM, lunch at 11:00 AM, and language study at 12:00 PM. We don't get out of our apartment until about 1:00 PM. I have not had to sit for that long since high school! I know I only graduated a little over a year ago, but it is quite the adjustment for me. I get a little bit antsy, and probably a little annoying as well, but hopefully I will adjust to it soon!

My companion is no longer the district leader, which will also be a HUGE adjustment for me. As a district leader, you have to go on exchange with each elder in your district. I absolutely loved being able to visit every companionships area, and getting to know the elders on a really personal basis! It is going to be a very stark contrast now that I will pretty much always be serving in our area in North La Crosse with my companion, except for our exchange with our new district leader, and the zone leaders.

This week we had an amazing lesson with an investigator. We taught her about the law of chastity, and had three members from the ward present. The spirit was SO strong during the lesson, and she completely understood and agreed with everything we shared with her. She understands why this commandment is so important. She is moving right now, so we have had many opportunities to help her move and to give our service, but unfortunately she is moving out of our area. Luckily she is only moving to South La Crosse though, so the south side missionaries will be able to teach her. Sadly, that means we will no longer be teaching her. We have one last lesson with her though, on July 17th, my birthday!

This week we also had a really great lesson with another investigator. We taught her about the plan of salvation. At the beginning of the lesson, she shared a lot of her frustrations, and about the anger that she had towards God. She has had a very difficult life. As we taught her more and more about this great plan of happiness, her face lit up. Her countenance changed, and you could see on her face and through her actions that she felt and recognized the spirit during the lesson. Afterwards, she said "I wish I would have known this sooner!" She is truly being prepared by the Lord.

On my birthday at 6:00 PM we will be going on exchange with the zone leaders! I know it is going to be a super weird birthday, but with our zone leaders here to celebrate, it is going to be awesome :) I will just have to find a way to make it an extra special day for myself haha, I can be fairly creative that way!

Glad to hear that everything is going well, and that Aimee has not been in any car accidents her first week driving! My new companion does not have driving privileges, so I am the designated driver. AWESOME! Don't think that I didn't notice your "sarcastic" comment about me not being home to use your Nordstrom Visa though. Haha!

Thank you all for your support and love! I know that God answers prayers, because he has slowly but surely been answering mine :)


Elder Kyle William Andrews

Thursday, July 4, 2013

A little late but here you are!

July 4th, 2013

Hello Everyone,

This week has been pretty crazy, but I have had a great time! I went on exchange with an Elder from Manti, Utah who is currently serving in South La Crosse. He was really fun to be around, and I think I learned a lot from him. For a while I actually though that he was going to complete my training, but today we found out that he is going to be training a new missionary.

Today we received our transfer emails from President Clements. I will be staying in North La Crosse, and will be serving with an Elder from Japan. While I was with the Assistants last week I actually met this Elder, because we all met together for dinner. He is a really a kind and loving missionary, and I am sure that we are going to get along great! His English is progressing, but it is very clear that he is from another country. It will be interesting to see how everything works out, but I am excited for what the future holds!

This week we had a baptismal interview in Sparta, Wisconsin. We got there a little early, so we went tracting with the Sparta missionaries before the interview. We met a less-active member from their branch, and got to know her a little bit. As we were talking she mentioned that they got a trampoline for Christmas, but she hasn't been able to set it up for her kids yet. We asked her if we could set it up for her, and she respectfully declined. Missionaries are persistant though, and in the end we won! She showed us where the trampoline was, and we set it up for them. I love helping others, and wish we had more opportunities to serve out here. Maybe service opportunities will increase in the future though! When we finished, we took a picture together with all the missionaries on the tramp. We aren't allowed to jump on trampolines--but when we were taking the picture it was SUPER tempting! I guess too many injuries have occurred in the past because of it. Oh well!

On Saturday we went to Westby, Wisconsin to blitz the Viroqua Sisters area. I thought that La Crosse and Onalaska were small areas, but Westby is TINY! I guess before I left on my mission I had the perspective that I lived in a small city. Provo apparently isn't as small as I thought it was! People in Wisconsin talk about getting away from the big city life in La Crosse... Crazy! Hopefully throughout my mission I will be able to serve in some of the bigger cities, but it has been interesting adjusting to the small city lifestyle. I certainly would never choose to live in a city this small though haha!

Aside from that, things are going well. Tomorrow we are driving to Rochester, Minnesota and I will be with our Zone Leaders in a group of three, while my companion will drive up to Bloomington, Minnesota with a ward member to be with all of the departing missionaries. Things are definitely looking up, and I am excited to see what this next transfer will bring. I can't believe that I have been out on my mission for an entire transfer now, and soon there will be missionaries serving out here that are younger than I am! Of course, I will be turning the ripe old age of 19 a week after transfers so I guess I am getting up there in years. My birthday will be fun though, we have District Meetings on Wednesdays, and one of the Sisters (serving in Viroqua) has her birthday on the same day! I'm sure it will be AMAZING :) I love and miss you all, and hope you have an excellent week. Thanks for all of your letters and emails!

Best Wishes,

Elder Kyle William Andrews