Monday, September 30, 2013

Receive No Witness Until After The Trial Of Your Faith

September 30, 2013

Hello Everyone,

This week has been one of many highs and lows, but I made it through alive! I realized the other day the importance of being a leader, not a follower. When I get lazy and unmotivated sometimes, I tend to coast and just follow after others. We cannot coast, we must "keep moving forward" like Walt Disney once said. I was reading over my patriarchal blessing, and it talks about how I will lead others down paths of righteousness. I cannot do that by merely following others, it will not work.

I have been praying recently for an opportunity to meet and teach a family. The other day we were tracting during painfully unproductive hours 7-9:00 PM, and we stopped and prayed for guidance. As we prayed, we saw a family moving in to the home across the street from us. We went over and offered to help them move in, and they accepted! We weren't able to share a message with them that evening, but we offered to come back the next day to continue to help them move in, and we set up an appointment.

I went on a last minute exchange with an elder after district meeting on Wednesday. After we arrived in Sparta, we went out tracting on a predetermined street. It wasn't going very well, and we were approaching another street. I decided that we were going to keep tracting this street, and that we wouldn't go down the other street. As we got closer, I realized there was only one house on that street. Finally, for whatever reason, I got over myself, and we went and knocked on the door of the one house on the street. A teen answered and we were able to visit with him and teach him! I didn't realize at the time that I was being tested whether or not I was going to go down the street, but we did and we were blessed! Later we were able to visit with the family that we helped move the night before, and we continued to help them move in. After we were done moving, we shared a quick message with them. It was great! Hopefully they will begin to show interest in our religion, but if not, maybe their hearts will be open sometime in the future because of our work with them.

We have been able to do a lot of service this week. We set up a hospital bed in a members home, mowed a lawn of a disabled member, and pulled weeds in our apartment complex for a potential investigator. Even though we often aren't able to teach during these service opportunities, we are able to help make a difference in others lives. When we were pulling weeds with the potential investigator, we were led eventually to a really great discussion about God and religion. It helped too that at the time, a different religious group were out tracting our apartment complex ;) Afterwards she fed us, and gave us Diet Coke. SO GOOD! Hopefully we will be able to continue to visit with and teach her.

This week our 10-year-old baptismal candidate and his father cancelled their appointment again. We are still holding out for October 20th, but we will have to wait and see. We did however get the opportunity to visit with our spanish speaking investigator. We have been trying to get in contact with her for a while now, with no success, so this was a great moment! We had a very quick visit, but we were able to reestablish contact.

Today we received our transfer emails, and my companion and I will no longer be serving together in Sparta, Wisconsin. I will be staying here in Sparta. I am very saddened, but I knew that it was going to happen eventually. I am sure that things will work out great with my new companion but I am scared out of my mind! Change and starting over is always scary and stressful. I know that this is what needs to happen though, for whatever reason.

Thank you all so much for your love and support. I love hearing from all of you, and what is going on back home! I hope you are all doing well, and that this will be a great week for us all. Talk to you next week, I love and miss you all!

Best Wishes,

Elder Kyle William Andrews

Monday, September 23, 2013

Being In the World...But Not Of The World

September 23, 2013

Hello Everyone,

This has been an interesting week to say the least. To start, we had a district P-Day last Monday. We met in Onalaska, Wisconsin and played basketball, Frisbee, ate at B.A. Burrito, and the Elders in Winona, Minnesota brought Bacon Maple Bars from Bloedows, a doughnut shop. It was pretty crazy! That evening, we were able to teach a couple, and we talked about the importance of prayer. In all the prayers we have heard the man give, he thanks God for the things he has, but never asks any questions. We talked about asking questions, and having meaningful prayers. Not that being grateful is a bad thing ;) It was a really great lesson, and we are going back to visit them tonight!

On Thursday, we were planning on visiting a recent convert, and she informed us that her foster mom was coming over to help her clean. We asked if we could bring a member and help them, and she accepted. We have this thing called the rule of three, where we need three members of the same gender to be present in order to go inside the home of someone of the opposite gender. A younger member in the branch offered to come help us out! We organized a little bit and got to know the recent converts foster mom a little bit better. At the end of our cleaning trip, we were able to sit down with the foster mom, and teach her the restoration. It was great! She is very interested in religion, and knows a lot of history about the Bible, a lot about Hebrew and the Jewish religion, and she even knew quite a bit about our religion. Everything we taught her made sense, and she connected it with what she already knew. At the end of the lesson though, she told the recent convert that she would not come to church until the recent convert got her HSED (High School Equivalent Diploma I believe). They made a goal to complete it before the winter solstice, but we are hoping that her foster mom will come to know that it is true, and come to church anyways. We will see!

On Friday, our day was all over the place! We had a full schedule, and during our studies in the morning we received a call from the Sisters in La Crosse. An investigator is going to be baptized, but he would only agree on one date, September 29th. In order for that to work out, he had to be interviewed that same day. We scrapped our schedule, and drove to La Crosse. It was cool seeing the difference in this investigator from when I was able to teach him, and where he is at now! After the interview, we did a few stop bys in the area. I was able to visit with one of the great families again! We talked about family home evening, and how they can come closer together as a family. The man has applied for his green card now, so he is just waiting for it to come in. Waiting games are the best ;)

This week we were able to do a little bit of service for a local family. Their garage was cluttered, so we helped them move everything out, throw a bunch of stuff away, and then put it back in the garage in an organized fashion. I absolutely hate creepy crawlies... spiders especially, but it worked out! Their garage is unfinished, so there is no floor. It was just dirt and rocks. They plan to lay concrete down before the winter though, so things will get better in their garage :)

On Sunday a family in the branch gave really great talks on living in the world, but not of the world. I struggle with this concept. I absolutely love the world sometimes, but there is never enough money to entertain that passion. This talk was really helpful for me. I learned about how I can tame this passion, and become a better person in the process. No one is completely free of the world, which was comforting as well. I just want it all sometimes, and I want it right then. Something to work on I guess! On Sunday we also found out that the Utes won! It was definitely a highlight of church haha ;)

Thank you all so much for your love and support! This week has had its fair share of highs and lows, but your prayers and kind words of encouragement help me to get through those not so great times. I love and miss you all, and wish you all the very best! Thank you for your kindness, prayers, and letters. Talk to you soon!


Elder Kyle William Andrews

Monday, September 16, 2013

Be Patient...Stay Faithful!

September 16, 2013

Hello Everyone,

This week has been one of many interesting experiences! On Monday, we had the opportunity to teach a couple about baptism and prayer. The man is starting to understand that it is going to actually require effort on his part aside from meeting with us to figure out if the church is true. It was a really great meeting, and we started to make some headway!

On Tuesday, after District Meeting, my companion and I went contacting downtown Sparta and pretty much no one was outside! People around here go to work, then go inside their homes and watch TV. Despite this trend, we were able to meet one person downtown. The senior missionaries that used to be in Sparta taught him while they were here. He was on his way to work, but we got his phone number and address, and we will hopefully be able to continue teaching him! We have stopped by his house many times, but have not quite caught him there yet, but we will keep trying.

On Wednesday, we taught a woman who is in her twenties, and works at Taco Bell. She has a girl in second grade that lives in Chicago with her father, and she was pregnant (with her current boyfriend) with another girl a few months ago, and miscarried for no apparent reason. She has faced a lot of challenges in her life, and knows a few LDS people, one of which attended the Sparta Branch before he died. We taught her the restoration, and she showed a lot of interest! She is really amazing, and I hope she continues to meet with us and to express interest in our religion.

We also taught a former investigator. She has been taught for years, and goes through peaks of interest. We brought chalk and drew out our lesson for her and her kids, and it went really well! She agreed to come to church on Sunday, and she lives right in back of the church, so it would be perfect. Unfortunately when we went to their home on Sunday morning, no one answered the door. We will just have to try again next week.

On Thursday we had a really cool experience in Tomah, Wisconsin. We got a referral forever ago that we have not been able to contact in Tomah. It only provided his address, but no phone number. On Thursday we decided to go stop by, and he was home! He was outside putting sealer on their destroyed driveway. It had cracks everywhere, so this was a huge job for him! He wouldn't let us help him, but he allowed us to talk and teach him as he sealed the driveway. We had a really great lesson, and at the end (after he agreed to be baptized) we invited him to come to church with us on Sunday. He informed us that he was moving to El Paso, Texas on Sunday so that wouldn't work, but that he enjoyed meeting with us. His fiancee in Arizona that referred him is meeting with the missionaries, so hopefully the missionaries in Texas will be able to continue teaching him!

We also got to see another male investigator on Thursday. The family from the Sparta branch invited us over for dinner and our investigator wanted to come as well! He is really good friends with them so everything worked out perfectly :) We ate dinner at Cancun Bay (a Mexican restaurant) and then did a service project at the members house afterwards. We realized that becoming friends with our investigator is the most productive way of teaching him, rather than having regular rote lessons. He is showing amazing potential though :) We are officially undropped!

On Friday we met with our ten year old investigator and his father, and talked about his new baptismal date. They are not particularly active, and did not come to church last Sunday, so he was not baptized on September 15th. We discussed different dates, and hopefully he will be getting baptized on September 29th. October 5th is conference, and October 13th is stake conference, so pray for the 29th!

On Saturday, nothing was really working out. None of our appointments were home, and things just weren't going well. At 8:00 PM, my companion prayed that we would be able to experience a miracle, and that we would know who to stop by. We thought of three people to go visit. First, we went by a less-active members home, but he was not home. Then we stopped by another investigators home, but she wasn't home either. We were kind of frustrated, but I had thought of one more person to go visit, a part member family in the branch. We stopped by, and they were home! We were able to talk to them and set up a service opportunity for this week :) God likes to try our patience sometimes, but when we endure, everything works out perfectly.

It has been another great week, and I have learned quite a few lessons. Most importantly though was to be patient, and to stay faithful (something that I struggle with). Thank you all so much for all of your love and support! I love reading all of your letters, and getting pictures of you in the mail :) Missionaries lives revolve around mail haha, it's kind of funny! I love and miss you all, and hope you have a great week :)

Best Wishes,

Elder Kyle William Andrews

Monday, September 9, 2013

My Prayer Was Answered

September 9, 2013

Hello Everyone,

This week has been crazy! We started off the week with a two day exchange in Winona, Minnesota. On Monday I was on exchange with an elder from Santequin, Utah (graduated from Payson High School). During our exchange, I found out that we know some of the same people! There were a few people from Provo High School that moved to Payson High School, and I knew people that did FCCLA at Payson High School. Kind of cool :) Then on Tuesday, I went on another exchange. We taught a man about the church, and he taught us about the rapture. Interesting concept!

We were able to teach a couple this week about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The man was actually showing some progression this week, so we were very excited! We had a really great lesson, and he showed a lot more interest than he normally does. Progress is always promising!

During companionship inventory this week, my companion and I had a long talk about conversion. I came to the conclusion that sometimes the fact that I am an extreme perfectionist, I rely entirely on myself, and don't always allow others to help me. No wonder I sometimes have a difficult time opening up to other people! I realized that I need to rely more on others, and I especially need to put my trust in God, rather than myself. I have a lot of work to do, but I am excited to see what changes might come because of it. That night I spent a lot of time just thinking about everything, and why I am not able to forgive myself, and why I demand perfection from myself 24/7, and I ended up staying up until 3:30 AM. I prayed constantly, and asked for help and for guidance (and to be able to go to sleep...) Finally I kind of gave up, and then I was able to fall asleep, but with no real answers.

The next day we had Zone Training. My companion and I had to wake up at 5:00 AM to be ready and on the road so that we would be on time to the Zone Training in Rochester, Minnesota. It was a rough morning! We arrived a few minutes early, so we had a little time to study before the training began. I was exhausted and had no clue what to study, but I did anyways. I flipped through Preach My Gospel, and ended up looking at some of the pictures in Chapter 4, on recognizing the spirit. As I dazed off for a while, all of the sudden it hit me. I felt the spirit SO strongly, and I received an answer to the prayers I had offered the night before! I also realized that I cloud my mind with thoughts all the time, and the demands of being perfect, so the Spirit has no way of really impressing me. I have not allowed myself to feel the Spirit. It was a great moment! Then following, we had a Zone Training on conversion and goal setting / go-getting. It was just what I needed! President and Sister Clements are amazing, and I always learn so much from their trainings. One thing in particular that stood out to me was that "Life is like an obstacle course, with special challenges and trials that help us to change. Suffering alone will not change anything. Happiness and change come as we develop the attributes of Christ, and apply them. True conversion brings happiness." - President Clements.

After Zone Training I went on an exchange. We had the opportunity to teach a ten year old boy about the Plan of Salvation. This boy is ridiculously intelligent, and his father who is a member has taught him incredibly well. He is just about set to be baptized on September 15th, so we are crossing our fingers :)

We received two referrals this week, which was amazing, because we never get referrals! One of them was quite interesting though! We went to go meet with him, and he tried to enlighten our minds as we met with him. We learned that the extra pages in the back of the scriptures, bible included, are for rolling your own weed. Yep, he was nuts! He also used the "f-word" every couple of seconds. We realized that at the present moment he was not entirely ready to convert, but that we would try back another time and see what can come out of it. The other referral was a God send! It was from a man in the Madison, Wisconsin mission area who referred his insurance agent in Black River Falls, Wisconsin. He told us a lot about the referral, and that we learned that the man we were talking to was the father of the woman that recorded "the missionary next door"! We have been listening to her audio CD a lot lately, and have been SO inspired by it. This man is remarkable, and we are fortunate enough to get a referral from him! It was a really cool experience :)

My companion and I have grown really close this week in the little time that we have had together in our area. We have talked a lot about self-improvement and our goals, and we even shared a little bit of our patriarchal blessings with each other. He honestly is the best, and I don't know what exactly I am going to do when one of us is transferred. I guess all I can do right now is enjoy it while it lasts!

I have learned a lot of really great lessons this week, and I am excited to see what I will be able to accomplish in the weeks to come. Thank you all for all of your love and support! I couldn't do it without you :) I love and miss you all!

Best Wishes,

Elder Kyle William Andrews

Monday, September 2, 2013

A Week Like No Other!

Hello Everyone,
This week has been quite interesting to say the least! It began like any normal week. We had our P-Day, then an exchange on Tuesday with South La Crosse, and then District Meeting on Wednesday. The Zone Leaders came to our District Meeting, and we went on exchange with them afterwards. I was on exchange with an elder who I have had some memorable experiences with, and some really great lessons on our exchange! We started out rough, with a man. We were teaching him the Plan of Salvation, and in the middle of our lesson, his wife came outside and started yelling. She told us that we were just wasting our time, and that he was never going to come to church. She kept yelling at us, and eventually told us, for no reason mind you, that she was going to call the police if we didn't leave her property. Gotta' love the kindness of some of the people;) Later that evening though, we had an opportunity to teach a boy in a part-member family. We taught him about the restoration, and he had a lot of really great questions. You could see that everything made sense to him, and then his dad, the member, bore testimony of the things we were teaching him. The spirit was really strong at that point, and we committed him to be baptized! Baptisms fall through all the time, but we are crossing our fingers for September 15th! After our lesson, we returned to the apartment for our interview following the exchange. The elder I was with had a sharp pain in his chest, and was extremely uncomfortable all of the sudden. He said that his lungs were hurting, and that he thought he had a collapsed lung. He has had problems with collapsed lungs since he was 17, and eventually had his left lung cauterized. His right lung was causing him grief at this point though. When the other elders returned to the apartment after their interview, we gave him a blessing and called President Clements. We had to take the elder to the Mayo Clinic in Sparta, and they x-rayed him and confirmed that he in fact had a collapsed lung. They sent the elder and his companion in an ambulance to the Mayo clinic in La Crosse for surgery. My companion and I returned to our apartment at about 1:00 AM, and tried to sleep for as long as possible.
The next day we had to drive the Zone Leaders car down to La Crosse. The elders surgery went well, and he began to feel a lot better after he was given some pain medication. The hospital informed him that he was eventually going to need to get his other lung cauterized though, but that it could wait until he returned home from his mission.
On Sunday, we had the opportunity to teach a woman and her boyfriend. They are native Spanish speakers, and only the woman can speak and understand English. My companion and I only speak English, and a little bit of French. This created quite an interesting situation for us to say the least! The woman translated for a while, and then we popped in the restoration DVD that we have that comes in many different languages. We gave them the Spanish version of the Book of Mormon, and the Spanish restoration pamphlets that just so happened to be in our apartment. As we taught the lesson and watched the movie in Spanish, we felt the spirit so strongly! We knew that they understood what was going on and that the message we had to share brought them peace, and intrigued them to learn more. I don't know how future lessons without DVD's will work, but I know that anything is possible. As we returned to our apartment on Sunday night, we saw something unusual as we approached the entrance to the apartment building. All of the sudden my companion began to back up slowly, and then I realized that there was a skunk right in front of our door! Great, this would just be the perfect ending to our already crazy week if we got sprayed by a skunk. Luckily, the skunk ran away, and we were able to get in to our apartment stench free ;)
Despite the interesting week we had, we were able to get some of the highest number of lessons we have ever had! The Lord works in mysterious ways, and I guess we will just never understand what all is going on haha. Oddly enough – it was an extremely successful week!
Today is Labor Day, so the Sparta Library where we usually email is closed! We are going on exchange today with the Elders in Winona, Wisconsin though, so we stopped by the South La Crosse Elder's apartment, where they have an internet cafe. Pretty great! This means we have a little bit more time to email today than we normally do, because the computers do not automatically turn off after logging in for 60 minutes!
Thank you all for the encouragement and support that you provide me, and for all of the love, letters, and emails that you send. I truly appreciate every one of you! It has been another successful week, and I am excited to see what we will be able to accomplish this next week. I love and miss you all!
Best Wishes,
Elder Kyle William Andrews