Monday, March 31, 2014

Members are the Key

Hello Everyone,

This has been quite the week. On Monday, we played ultimate frisbee with a family from the ward for P-Day. I am certainly not an all star ultimate frisbee player, but it seemed to work out when we were playing with younger kids haha! It was pretty fun. My companion was dying the whole time, physical activity is not his thing even though he is the one that wanted to play ultimate frisbee with the family. In the evening we went out joint teaching with a brother who has just hours before returned back from a business trip to Dubai. That is dedication! I don't know if I would ever come back if I had the opportunity to go to Dubai in the winter ;) He went from 80 degree weather to 15 degree weather in a matter of hours. Yikes! While we were out joint teaching, we stopped by an investigator. Her husband has been taking the missionary lessons from the the senior couple for quite some time now. We realized that their phone numbers on the ward directory were wrong, so we stopped by to get their updated information, and share a quick message with their family. West African people are incredible! They are so kind and hospitable to everyone, and are so open to new ideas and teachings even if they don't always completely agree. The investigator had a baptismal date a few months ago, but it didn't work out. Hopefully he will be able to be baptized before the senior couple goes home in May! After our meeting with the our investigator, we headed over to North Minneapolis to do a few stop by's. On the way over, our joint teach was pulled over by a police officer for running a red light. We all were fairly certain that he hadn't run a red light, but the officer proceeded to check all of his information. He said that he reviewed the video footage, and said that he did run a red light, but that he was just going to give him a warning. Likely story! He reviewed the video footage, and realized that the light was still yellow, but no ticket none the less. We stopped by a few less-active members, and finished off the night.

On Tuesday, we had to walk over to the CVS near our apartment. The medical coordinator for our mission had me pick up some weird lotions and potions for these weird rashes I have been getting. In 10 days if they don't clear up, I will need to see a dermatologist. She thinks it might be an allergic reaction, but we will see. As we were walking over to CVS, a woman drove by, honked her horn, looked me in the eyes and blew me a kiss. People are great haha! It kind of made my day, because I thought it was totally hilarious. My Companion didn't exactly share my same feelings, but it all works out ;) Tuesday night we had dinner with a family, and went joint teaching with him. We visited with our newly baptized investigator, and got to meet her new puppy, Dr. Dre. I am a firm believer that EVERYONE should probably own a dog at some point in their lifetime, but when you are not doing so hot financially, it is probably not the best time to invest in a cute little puppy. But, to each his/her own! I still love little puppies :) We talked about the Plan of Salvation, and invited her to attend the General Womens Meeting, as well as General Conference the next week. This is an exciting time!

On Wednesday, I went on exchange with an elder from Montana. He served in the area right before I got there, so it was fun to be able to talk about the area and everything with him. We were going to his area for the exchange, but this time we were biking. The elder has a cool speed and mile counter device on his bike, and he figured out that on our exchange we biked 30 miles. No bueno! Our legs were killing by the end of the night, and I had some not so nice thoughts each time I saw the rolling hills of the city. I enjoy biking down them, but biking up them is a whole other experience. It was a good exchange though, and I always enjoy being able to go to Downtown Minneapolis! I feel like Alicia Keys should make a version of her song "New York" yep... totally not called that... I think it is something like, well actually I'm not sure but I can sing it for you haha... "In New York, concrete jungle where dreams are made of," etc... for Minneapolis!

On Thursday, we had our weekly District Meeting, but this time President Clements came to our meeting! The senior couple drove us down to the District Meeting, and then I had to use my super speedy changing skills from ballroom to change into my suit and everything, because when you bike to an exchange there is no room for all of that stuff. But it is always fun to be able to meet with, and hear from President Clements, so it was well worth it. He gave us a training on boldness, and understanding and utilizing the power and authority of our calling. It was a really great training! Afterwards, we went over to do our weekly service. I again was in the refrigerator for most of the time. They must really think that I enjoy the cold! They probably laugh each time I go to grab my jacket before I go work in the fridge. It is dang cold though! After our service, we went out joint teaching. Our joint teach had a list of prospective Elders and Priesthood holders that he wanted to go stop by, so we were along for the ride! We stopped by a few really interesting people, but largely didn't have a whole lot of success. But the invitation is always there for them!

On Friday, after all of our weekly planning, we went and visited with a 19 year old less-active member. He talked to us a lot about his video games, and crazy work schedule. He has been working at McDonalds for about 6 months now, and has already been promoted to a manager! Apparently you usually only become a manager after 1 year. We coordinated his work schedule, and set up another time to come meet with him. Cool kid, but needs to work a little bit on his priorities. He has a girlfriend and everything, but his video games come first. Interesting. I guess because I am not into video games, I just don't understand. After our meeting with him, we had an adult ward activity! We played a card game called Whist. It was a pretty fun game, but I was awful at it haha! At least it was still fun to be a loser ;) After the activity, we set up the chairs and everything for an investigator’s baptism the next morning.

On Saturday morning we attended the baptism. I always love being able to attend baptisms of other members in the ward. I feel like if they come to our convert baptisms, then we should even more so support their own family baptisms! It was a great baptismal service, and I think the ward really appreciated us being there. Afterwards, my companion has been coordinating a 3 ward church tour with our Ward. All the wards in our district! Fliers were made, and we have been inviting people for a few weeks now, but NO ONE came. Hopefully if we ever do this again in the future, we will have a better success rate. Oh well, I guess it was a good learning experience! Afterwards, I had to call Sprint about our horrendous cell service. We cannot make a phone call without dropping the call at least once or twice, our text messages are not always received on the other end, and we rarely have cell service. I called, and was on the phone with Sprint for the next 3 hours! It took FOREVER, and they only made a report to work on it later. Hopefully it will all be worked out soon enough! In the evening we were able to do a teaching evaluation with a ward member. His wife is out of town on a business trip, so it was fun to be able to visit with him while he was home alone. He told us that he and his wife have been talking about us a lot recently, and recognize that we are different than every other missionary companionship that has served in here. He said that he likes our focus on members, and that we are fun to be around, but still concentrated on our work. They are amazing! Plus, everyone likes to receive compliments. Totally made my day!

Sunday was pretty good. I wasn't feeling all that great, so fasting was a bit of a challenge, but it all worked out! Fast and Testimony Meeting was great, and church was really nice. In the evening we went joint teaching, and were able to stop by two investigators and set up a time to meet with them on Monday. Our joint teacher for Monday is really great friends with one of them, and wanted to see him while we went out joint teaching. We talked about the Priesthood and about the importance of attending church. It was a great lesson! We finished off the evening by visiting with another investigator. She was able to attend church today, so we were able to share with her "Be Ye Converted" by Bonnie L. Oscarson from this past General Conference. She really enjoyed it, and it got her excited for this upcoming General Conference. No crazy cat experiences this time!

Thank you all so much for all of your love and support. You are all such an inspiration to me! Thank you so much for all of your love and prayers. Have a great April Fool's Day :) Talk to you next week.

Best Wishes,
Elder Kyle William Andrews

Monday, March 24, 2014

When Ye Are in the Service...

Hello Everyone,

It has been another cold, but good week in Minnesota! On Monday, St. Patrick's Day, we had our District P-Day. We painted pictures... yep art was never my thing, signed testimony journals, ate a bunch of oddly coloured green foods, and took off. It was super fast, but quite fun! After P-Day was over, we had dinner and went joint teaching again with a Brother from Highland, Utah. What an amazing man! I don't know if I would ever volunteer to go joint teaching with missionaries while I was on a work trip, but I guess that just speaks volumes about the kind of man that he is. We visited with an investigator, and as we were talking she brought up the fact that she had watched the talk "Like A Broken Vessel" by Elder Holland. I instantly remembered that talk from this last General Conference, and realized that I had the General Conference Ensign in my bag. I flipped to it, and shared one of my favorite sections from that talk. Of this last General Conference, that talk really stood out to me. It was a great help to me, and hopefully it was a great help to her as well. I realized that this was no coincidence that I am here in this ward, that Elder Hollands talk impressed me, and that our investigator decided to refer herself on at this time. God has a plan for each of us, it just takes time to figure it all out! I still have a bone to pick with him for putting me in a bike area, but I guess sacrifice brings forth blessings... blah! After our lesson with our investigators, we helped a less-active member sort through all of her receipts, bills, and financial information for her taxes. Wow! So many papers. I hope that I can be a little more organized with all of my financial needs when I am older, but it was nice to be able to help her out in her time of need. Afterwards, our joint teach brought us back to our apartment, and last minute decided to take a picture of us to send home to our parents. SUCH a nice man :)

On Tuesday, we had dinner and went joint teaching with the Bishop. Their family is always so kind, and his wife decided to take pictures of us again to send home to our families. While we were out joint teaching, we decided to stop by a family in which the mother and her children are all members, but her husband is not. We stopped over and shared a little bit about the restoration of the church. He is very open to the church and its teachings, but he works on Sundays at the hospital so is not able to attend church. Hopefully we will be able to work something out in the future!

On Wednesday, we had dinner and went joint teaching with our Ward Mission Leader. His family was on vacation in California, and he had to come home early for work and for school. It kind of felt like a bachelors night haha! We stopped by a less-active member, and talked a little bit about the Book of Mormon and followed up on her reading. She mentioned that she had an entertainment center in her car that she needed help moving, that had been in her car for 2 weeks because it was really heavy! We went out and the ward mission leader and I moved her entertainment center into her home. My companion held the door open ;) Afterwards we stopped by an investigator. She is 18 years old, and is a senior in High School. We taught her the full restoration lesson, and she had just the right questions throughout the entire lesson! It was amazing. After our lesson, we were asking about her family, and in walked her Mom who had just arrived home from school. She works and goes to school full time. We talked about when we might be able to meet with both of them, and she mentioned that she was off on Monday, and that was the start of our investigator's spring break, so she would be home as well. Awesome! We will have to see how things go today :)

On Thursday, we did our weekly service. Today was a little bit unusual though, because they needed us to help out in the clothing store for a change! They were relocating to a different room, and so they needed help cleaning and moving things over. We met the sweetest woman, who kind of guided us along. Hopefully we will be able to see her again! Afterwards, we went joint teaching with a brother from the ward. We again were able to meet with an investigator, and began teaching her about the Plan of Salvation. She has had a lot of family members who have passed away unexpectedly, so this was a really great lesson for her! We were only able to cover half of the lesson, but next time we will finish with the 3 Kingdoms of Glory, which I think she will really enjoy.

On Friday morning, I got a call from the Elders Quorum President. He told us to come outside, and said that he had something for me. I was pretty surprised (even though for the record, I still am not a big fan of surprises. I like to know it all!) I knew that he was in Utah, but I had no clue that he was going to pick something up from my family! He had some skirts for our investigator, British Candy (my favorite!), and letters from home. It was pretty amazing, and I was kind of having a rough day so that instantly improved it!

On Saturday we were out tracting, and I noticed a members home on the street we were on. I was FREEZING, so I suggested that we go stop by them and warm up quickly. A family in the ward invited us in, and asked us about our missionary work. We talked about how we had been tracting around their neighborhood, and then they went one by one giving us the down low on each of their neighbors, and who we might have the most success stopping by. Amazing! I absolutely love meeting with members of the ward, and getting to know them better. I feel like if I were ever going to refer one of my non-member friends, I would have to know the missionaries REALLY well to trust them with my referral, so I think working with ward members is critical. Not all of my companions have always agreed with me, but my opinion remains the same!
Sunday was great! A family in the ward picked up our investigator, and she was able to attend church for her first time. She really liked the organ music, and noted that our church service was different, but that she liked it! She was only able to stay for sacrament meeting this time, but noted that she would be back to experience the rest of it next week :) We went joint teaching with a brother from the ward after church and stopped by a lot of less-active members. We were able to visit with a man who was just recently baptized a few years ago. We talked about the sacrament, and the lesson in Priesthood earlier that day, and invited him to attend church. He was really kind and inviting, and agreed that he had been missing church and that he wanted to attend again sometime soon! Later we stopped by a man who just recently go out of the nursing home. He is doing really well, and asked us to do a few little service projects for him like taking out the trash, and reading the scriptures to him. It was a great way to finish off the week!

Random fact. On Friday, the carpet outside of our bathroom in the apartment was quite wet. We called the maintenance man and they gave us a fan to dry up the water. Yep... carpet it still wet! They are coming back today to check up on it. Gotta love ghetto missionary apartments ;) I try to leave them better than I found them though, so hopefully I have made a little bit of a difference in our mission.

Thank you all so much for all of your love and support! It truly is such a great strength to me to have so many people that I love thinking and praying about me throughout the week. You are all AMAZING :) I hope you have a great week, talk to you soon!

Best Wishes,
Elder Kyle William Andrews

Monday, March 17, 2014

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Hello Everyone,

This has been quite the week! It all began last P-Day when I needed to get my hair cut. We went to this SUPER ghetto strip mall, and I was super anxious about getting my hair cut there, and then my companion noticed that a sign in the salon said "cash only, no credit cards." That was all I needed. I do not carry cash on my ever, so I couldn't get my hair cut there. We walked over to this place called Fantasia, which I was pretty sure was a salon for African-American or African women, but apparently it is for everyone haha! That is one of the weird things about Minnesota, is because of the diversity, you have to be aware of what kind of stores you are walking into. Anyways, Fantasia is a salon, spa, and works a lot with wigs... they specifically say wigs not weaves, so they are not very classy. For first time clients they give a $10 off discount, so I couldn't complain. A super nice lady cut my hair, and then after I got my hair cut she said that she really liked the way my hair turned out, and she wanted to take a picture for her portfolio. Kind of odd, but I guess it works.

Monday evening we went joint teaching with a Brother from the ward. We began the evening by stopping by an investigator. She was on her way out of her home, walking towards her car when we saw her. She told us that she was on her way to her sisters house, so we were expecting an extremely short visit. She proceeded to talk, and talk, and talk for the next hour and a half. The sun went down and it started to get kind of cold as we were out on the street talking to her! It was crazy haha! She talked a lot about her family history though, and how in Germany they only have burial plots for 20 years and then they remove the headstone and casket and someone else gets the plot, so it makes finding headstones quite difficult. It was good to be able to fellowship her a little more though, and obviously she was SUPER comfortable talking to us, so maybe if we can work out her work schedule she can start coming to church again soon :) We also stopped by a woman from Togo, West Africa and has the biggest brightest smile I think I have ever seen! We were only able to visit with her briefly, but we were able to set up an appointment for later in the week which was nice.

On Tuesday we had our last District Meeting for the transfer. After District Meeting the senior couple' took us all out to Smash Burger for lunch! They are such a nice couple. After lunch I went on exchange with an Elder from Ogden, Utah. He’s is serving in an area that covers most of Minneapolis. A week previous the mission issued them bus passes, so they are able to bus all over their area! If the mission doesn't issue my companion and I bus passes, I think I might just buy one, because it is so much better, faster, and safer than biking. We began our exchange in Downtown Minneapolis. Oh my goodness, it was amazing! I absolutely love big cities, and skyscrapers, and stores. It was pretty much a spiritual experience :) We got to see the downtown Target, which was HUGE! They had an escalator for shopping carts and everything, it was awesome. I also loved seeing Brooks Brothers, Macy's, Saks Fifth Avenue, etc... Luckily this isn't my area, because if it were, I would be out of money! The only Nordstrom in all of Minnesota is in the Mall of America which is off limits to missionaries, so I am safeguarded there too. It was really amazing seeing all of the diversity downtown though! There were wealthy people, poor people, and everything in between. Some people even came up to us and asked us about our church which was really cool! In the evening we went out to an investigator’s home, and had a lesson on the Plan of Salvation. He and his son were SUPER chatty, but we were able to cover a few points. He is going out of town soon, so my companion committed him to read the Book of Mormon every day that he is gone. He looked my companion in the eyes and told him that he really wanted to do that, and then said "and God as my witness, I will NOT read the Book of Mormon while I am gone. I can't lie to you, and I know that I won't." Kind of missed the boat a little bit :p Yikes haha! Hopefully he will be a little more committed in the future, but at least he didn't lie ;)

On Wednesday we exchanged back, and did some area book work. I am obsessed with organization, so I really enjoy going through the area book and updating things, and sorting through things. Kind of fun! While we were doing area book work, we got a text from an investigator informing us that his aunt had kicked him out of her house and that he is living in Fridley with his brother now. Kind of sad, but maybe the missionaries in Fridley will be able to visit with him :) Wednesday evening we went joint teaching with a member. The evening was kind of uneventful, but then we stopped by an investigator. She is referred to as the "bread lady", because she collects older breads, doughnuts, cupcakes, etc.. from local bakeries and stores and distributes them among people at her church. She has a Mormon friend that connected the missionaries to her, and now the missionaries come see her every first and third Wednesday for bread and what not. She is awesome, but doesn't quite realize that this is a means of missionary work and fellowshipping! She mentioned while we were there that it must be nice for us to take a break from our missionary work to come see her, little does she know ;)

On Thursday we started off the day doing our weekly service at the local food bank. I don't know what it is about me, but I must have a sign on my back or something that says "Pick Me! I LOVE the cold!" Every time something comes up that needs to be worked on in the fridge or freezer, I am usually the person they go to. On Thursday after I finished stocking milk and cheese in the fridge for about an hour, I got out and started to warm up, and then they pulled me over to the walk in freezer to rearrange things and organize the freezer. I thought I was going to die! I had to seriously take breaks every 30 seconds, because my body was completely frozen. But it all worked out, and I didn't freeze to death :)

At dinner time, the heat was on. I had an hour to make dinner for 8 people, one of our investigators and her 6 kids, and myself. I felt like I was on a culinary team again, except I was all by myself. My companion didn't want anything to do with my little project, so he just made his food and disappeared. I made chicken alfredo, and then put it in a lasagna dish and baked it with a bunch of cluff roll mixture sprinkled on the top, then I made cluff rolls, and chocolate chip cookies! I finished literally with minutes to spare, but it all turned out really well :) Our investigator called earlier and said that she had to cancel her appointment for tonight, because she had a friend that was sent to the hospital. This was the perfect night to bring dinner over to their family! Our joint teacher drove us over, and we dropped everything off. Our investigator called us later and was SO grateful for dinner. My Mom earlier this month transferred some money on to my card and suggested that I make dinner for our investigator and her family. It truly was an amazing experience, and worked out perfectly! Thanks Mom :)

On Friday after weekly planning, we went out joint teaching with a brother from Highland, Utah. He works for Honeywell and is here in Minnesota for 3 weeks for training. He volunteered to go joint teaching with us, which was AMAZING! The ward mission leader in his ward in Utah, and has a son in the Las Vegas, Nevada mission so he is super excited for missionary work. In the evening we were able to meet with our investigator and her family. We had a lesson on the Plan of Salvation! We had lots of pictures and things to make it more interactive, so the kids really enjoyed it. We talked about the Pre-Earth life, the Creation of the World, the Fall of Adam, and our Earth life. It was an awesome lesson, and our investigator and her family seemed to really like this lesson! I absolutely love meeting with their family, and hope that we can continue to help them while I am here in this city. In our next lesson we are going to be working on setting an official baptismal date for her 8 and 11 year old, so that will definitely be exciting :)

On Saturday we went out tracting during some of our free time, and we met this who said that she has seen missionaries walking around in their apartment complex before, but that she had never actually met with them. She was super interested in what we had to say, and asked if she could have her own copy of the Book of Mormon! Usually we are the ones offering to give them a copy, so it was cool that she kind of jumped the gun and asked for a copy herself. She is really cool, so we are excited for our next appointment with her this next Wednesday! Halfway through Saturday we received a text from President Clements informing us that they were back in Minnesota :) It is good to have them back, but it was fun to be able to learn from President Ehlert for 3 weeks :)

We went joint teaching Saturday evening, and had a lesson with our recently baptized investigator. She is doing a LOT better this week, and expressed a sincere desire to learn more about the storyline of the Book of Mormon. She loves reading it when we are together, so we talked about how she can make her personal studies more meaningful so that she can always learn from the Book of Mormon, even when we are not there reading it with her. She liked learning about all of the different prophets, and was excited to read it and study it on her own. In the evening, we had a Mission Prayer conference call with President and Sister Clements. They first talked about their challenges being back home, and how anxious they were to return back to the MMM. We had a brief training, and then President Clements offered a prayer for our missionary work. It was an amazing way to finish off our Saturday!

Sunday was great! I really enjoyed Sacrament Meeting and everything, and then we had some really great meetings after church. A family had us over for dinner, and they had her Scottish Terrier named Winston over as well! Usually he lives at her parents home, but they are on vacation so he stayed home with them! I LOVE DOGGIES :) After dinner we went out joint teaching with them, and had some... interesting experiences. We had an appointment with an investigator that we had even called and confirmed earlier on in the day, but when we arrived all of her lights were shut off, and no one answered the door. We went back to the car, and I saw her walk up to her window in the dark. She has really bad depression, so I am guessing that it was just a bad night for her. We decided to go and visit with her next door neighbors instead! We just got the records for the family, so we thought it would be perfect to drop by and go see them. Amazingly enough, they literally live right next door to our investigator! They invited us in, and we talked for a little while. They are a younger couple, so the joint teaching couple were able to really relate with them! They were married in the St. Paul Minnesota temple, and then moved to Missouri shortly after, and now they are back in Minnesota. They have been attending his brothers ward at 3:00 PM, but they said one day they will make it to the 9:00 AM Ward. I COMPLETELY understand :) I moved my apartment when I was in college to avoid the deathly 9:00 AM church, so this is my payback. Karma!

It has been a great week though! Today we got our transfer email, and I am staying in the area with my companion. Today we have a district P-Day and will sign testimony journals and take pictures with everyone that is leaving. Kind of sad! But... HAPPY ST. PATRICK'S DAY :) *Pinch* I was sure to wear green today though, so I am safe! Thank you all for your love and support.

Talk to you next week!
Best Wishes,
Elder Kyle William Andrews

Monday, March 10, 2014

Everything I know... I learned in Primary!

Hello Everyone,

It has been kind of a different week, but still a very good one! On Tuesday we had our weekly District Meeting, and I was asked early Tuesday morning to give a Missionary Handbook training on housing and cleanliness. I love organization and cleaning, so it was not a big deal to put together this last minute training! I of course had handouts, because no training is a good training without them ;) I still am the only missionary that ever uses handouts, but maybe one day I will rub off on someone! This week I was able to use my favorite quote in the whole entire world as part of my handout, "If you can dream it, you can do it." - Walt Disney. It was great!

After District Meeting we went on exchange with our Zone Leaders. I stayed with an Elder from Mesa, Arizona. We had a really great exchange together! We had dinner with a family from the ward, and then did a teaching evaluation with them. Their kids are very young, but primary has trained them well! We taught the message of the restoration, and they were able to basically teach us the entire lesson :) One of their children talked to us about how "I Am A Child Of God" is her favorite primary song. We discussed the mission president’s wife’s training on how "Everything I know... I learned in Primary!" The songs the children sing in Primary are rather remarkable, and teach all of the doctrines that we need to know as members of the church. It was a really cool teaching moment for me, and I was able to learn how to better relate to and teach children. Later in the evening we stopped by an investigator with a ward member. He is married to a member, and has a relative interest in the church, but has not been baptized. He works on Sundays, but enjoys the community and family focused atmosphere of the church. His daughter sang the song "I Am A Child Of God" for us, which was amazing, and we had a lesson with him about families and that we are all God's children. It was amazing! He didn't have a lot of time, but with the impact that the Primary song that his daughter sang, that is all we needed :)

On Wednesday we concluded our exchange with a trip to the St. Paul Minnesota Temple! It was amazing :) I have now been to the temple three times in my life, twice in Provo and once in Minnesota. The temple was tiny haha! It is much smaller than any church even that I have been into. The Celestial room in the temple was quite small, and didn't have any pictures or anything in it, but the chandelier was pretty. While we were in the Celestial room, I was contemplating a lot of different things in my mind, and then all of the sudden I randomly started thinking about what the heck I am going to do with my life! As I was sitting, an idea popped into my head. I'm still not sure if it was my idea, or God's, but it definitely circulated my brain. Business Accounting. WHAT?!?!? I'm awful at math! So yeah, not really sure whats up with that. Maybe it was a practical joke, but who knows :)

On Wednesday we had dinner with a couple in the ward, and then we went out joint teaching with both of them! They are awesome :) Unfortunately our investigator who just got baptized kind of dropped off the face of the planet, so we weren't able to see her because she missed her appointment, and her family said they had not seen her in days. Kind of worrisome. The Sister came to the rescue though, and said that she wanted us to go meet her dad who is not a member. The Sister knows that I LOVE dogs, so she told her dad that we were coming over to meet their dog, and to introduce the new missionary. We talked for a little while, and then were able to have a quick message with him before we left. It was an awesome teaching opportunity, so hopefully we will be able to meet again with him soon! While in the car with the couple we talked a lot about sacrifice, and with it being Ash Wednesday, and the start of Lent, I committed to give up Diet Coke... haha just kidding! I committed to only drink one Diet Coke a day :) I would die if I completely gave up Diet Coke!

On Friday we had dinner with a family in the ward, and went joint teaching with the father. We stopped by a less-active member who is a recovering alcoholic. He was recently released from jail for driving while intoxicated, and has now been sober for four months! He attends AA meetings every day, and is recommitting to coming to church. His testimony is amazing! He knows that without God's help, he cannot do anything, and so he needs to rely on the Lord. Such an awesome example to me! Later, we had an appointment with our baptized investigator. We got a couple strange texts from her on Thursday night, and we set up an appointment to come see her. She told us that she had been to hell and back this past week. Her family reported her of child abuse, and she was sent to jail for three days. That is why she missed our appointments, and never got back to us! Kind of an odd situation. She has not seen her kids in several months, because her Mom has temporary custody because of her previous homelessness, so the claim sounds like it cannot be true. She made it clear that she is a loving and kind mother, and from what we have seen, we definitely don't think that she would do that to her youngest son. Hopefully everything will be worked out soon! She also told us that she was diagnosed with Bi-Polar disease and depression, so who knows. Kind of an interesting start to a lesson! Luckily we were able to salvage it by talking about family history and baptisms for the dead. She really enjoyed learning about doing baptisms for her family members that have passed away, and her countenance changed as she began to be filled with the spirit once again. It was awesome to see the literal change in her! We finished off the evening by visiting with a sister in the ward, or in other words, the woman with the devil cat, Sophie. Sophie HATES missionaries, and growls and hisses at us at every opportunity she gets. She shows her massive teeth, and tries to scare us away. My companion during the lesson decided that he wanted to pet Sophie. BAD IDEA! He never got to pet the cat though, because Sophie randomly started biting at the sister, so she was sent away. Luckily she didn't have any big injuries, but she did have a couple teeth marks on her arm. Why do people have cats? I will never know. Friday evening a brother in the ward called, and asked me to give a speech on Sunday. CRAZY! I basically had one day to prepare. Yikes :)

Church on Sunday was interesting. Daylight savings is rough! We had a 7:00 meeting before 9:00 church, so it was not the most pleasant morning in the world. To top it off, I have been getting sick these past couple weeks, and it decided to come on full throttle Sunday morning! I propped myself up with some pills, and went on my way. That totally sounds like I have drug problems, but that is the only way I can think to describe it haha! During the prelude music in Sacrament meeting, a sister played "Where Love Is". It was the only Primary song she has ever played in Sacrament meeting, and then she went right back to playing hymns. As she played, I instantly felt at peace, and the spirit came over me. I reflected on my great grandparents for a moment, and then sacrament meeting began. I knew they were watching over me, and helping me to get through my speech. It all worked out marvelously! I didn't even cough or get super sick while I was delivering my speech on Charity, and it turned out amazingly well for how little preparation time I was given. I was definitely blessed :)

Sunday evening we stopped by an old less-active member. He loves to fish, and to listen to his radio. He does not have a cell phone or a computer, and just recently inherited a color television. He is a bit old school, but it is kind of funny to watch! As we met with him, he told me that I look like Johnny Cash when he was younger. Not really sure whether or not to take that as a compliment or not, but whatever! I hardly even know who Johnny Cash is, so it all works out ;)

It has been a great week nonetheless, and we have seen some really great successes! Hopefully next week I won't be quite so sick, and all will be well :) Thank you all for all of your love and support! It truly means the world to me. This week I will hit my ten month mark on my mission on March 15th. Crazy stuff! Talk to you next week :)

Best Wishes,
Elder Kyle William Andrews

Monday, March 3, 2014

When Ye Are In The Service

Hello Everyone,

This week has been unique at best :p. So many different things are happening, but it was a great week! On Monday we spent most of our P-Day with a family in the Ward. My companion absolutely loves this family, so I kind of sucked it up and dealt with it. They are all ridiculously smart, and lack a lot of social skills that make spending time with them really awkward for me. I'm pretty sure they think I am an idiot, because I don't know hardly anything about math or science. They read college textbooks for fun... It was painfully awkward, but it worked out. I mostly just kept to myself, and wrote letters while they discussed physics, and other various topics. They are all involved in different trading card games, and video games, and the like. I am not interested in ANY of those things, so spending time with them is kind of awful. But it all worked out. Unfortunately my companion arranged to spend P-Day with them again today, so we will have to talk about that afterwards…

On Monday evening we were able to teach our investigator with the another family from the ward. We worked out all of the details of her baptism, and filled out her baptismal record. She tried on her white jumpsuit, and she practiced the baptismal ordinance with the father of the family. We also found out that she wears a weave, and she was concerned about getting it wet. We discussed different swim caps, and shower caps, and eventually we came up with the idea of wrapping a white scarf around her head. It was a great lesson though, and she in her closing prayer referred to the family as her new found friends which was awesome! So far she has not made too many friends in the ward, so that was definitely promising :)

On Tuesday we met with another investigator. We talked to him about Prophets and the Church. I pulled out my October 2013 General Conference issue of the Ensign and showed him the pages with the breakdown of the 1st Presidency, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, the Quorum of the Seventy, the Relief Society and Young Men's Presidencies, etc.. He immediately noticed Elder Dube in the Quorum of the Seventy because he looks African, so that was a great connection for him! Luckily we have people of different colors in our church leadership haha :) I learned a few things about West African people from the senior couple in our district, and asked him a few questions. He immediately began to open up and tell us about his journey here to America. I was stunned. Our investigator is the only member of his family here in America. He went without meals, worked hard, and saved up all of his money so that he could come here to America. All the while he supported his parents and siblings financially and paid for their schooling. He is the first high school graduate in his family, and plans to work and save up money here to be able to get his family over to America. He talked about the civil war they had in Liberia, and all of the horrible things he has seen, but shared that it is important to stay faithful and to have a positive attitude because God is watching over all of us and that He will help us. Truly inspiring! He teaches me so much every time we are able to visit with him.

On Wednesday we were able to meet with our investigator again. We taught him the Plan of Salvation and clarified a few of his ideas about Adam and Eve and taught that the Fall was necessary so that we could come here to earth and progress as a people. He really liked that! Also, part of the Plan of Salvation is the Atonement of Jesus Christ which he especially enjoyed hearing. During our lessons he always goes off testifying about the truths of these teachings, which is absolutely incredible! Later in the day we got a call from one of our referrals. She talked to us about her bad back, and that she has a renter moving into her house and that the snow plows filled up the entrance of her driveway with about 5 feet of snow. She needed help clearing it all away. I offered to help, but had NO CLUE what we were getting ourselves into. She lives in a ways away, and we do not have a car. We had to bike 30 minutes to her house with shovels to clear out her driveway which took a good 2 hours because it was frozen solid. It all worked out though, and she was SO appreciative of our service! I just need to double check on what I am volunteering us for in the future haha ;) Wednesday evening we had a lesson with our investigator who is getting baptized and a Brother from the ward. We watched the 20 minute Restoration DVD, and re-taught the restoration lesson. She was filled with the spirit, and talked with us about how excited she was to get baptized on Saturday! It was a great lesson.

On Thursday we had our service at the Food Bank, and then the senior couple took us to Smash Burger for dinner. I haven't been to Smash Burger since I left on my mission, so it was fun to be able to hit it up again! Too bad they don't have a Cafe Rio out here. I have been craving Cafe Rio this whole week! (Beef Barbacoa of course.) In the evening we had a lesson with an investigator and her family with a Brother from the ward. Turns out the Brother was the investigator's seminary teacher when she was a youth! We finished and re-capped our lesson on the restoration, and her kids (11) and (8) asked a few questions about baptism. The 8 year old was scared of being pushed under the water, but the Brother practiced the baptismal ordinance with her, and then she asked if she could be baptized. Super cool! I had a bag of fun sized Heath bars left over from Halloween, so I gave them some candy for being good during the lesson. Teaching kids is sometimes a challenge, but it always works out in the end. Especially when they have candy as a motivator ;)

On Friday we had a Zone Training in the Park. The senior missionary couple drove us, so it was fun to be able to talk with them on the way down to our Zone Training. Such an awesome couple! We learned about FUN (Facts, Understanding, Needs) Reports for our investigators, and asking FUN inspired questions. It was a really great training from the Mission President, and then he gave our whole mission Hat Trick Motion Trio Activity Trackers. The FitBits were a trial for our district, but now our whole mission has these more advanced trackers. He also mentioned that he had been arguing with Salt Lake City about getting us iPads, but we are still on lock down. No iPads for us yet. Lame! After Zone Training the the senior couple took us out for lunch at Taco Bell which was way fun. We had 6 people squished into their car, so it was a party for sure :)
Friday night we had dinner with a family in the ward, and then a lesson at their home with our investigator who is getting baptized. The family has a pit bull named Lady that I have of course come to adore! It is the most well behaved dog I think I have ever met, but it loves to nuzzle up to me while we are eating dinner which makes me feel guilty and want to feed it, just like Richard at the a different family’s home. Smart dogs. We went to go pick up our investigator, and she heard Lady bark as we walked towards the house and she got a little bit antsy. She opened the door and saw this big pit bull, and immediately ran out of their home, slamming the door behind her. She actually knocked my companion out of the way because he was walking behind her, and she needed to get OUT of the house quickly! It was hilarious, but probably traumatizing for our investigator. The family locked up Lady, and then our investigator was able to come in the house for our lesson. Aside from that minor incident, the lesson went great! We went over the family proclamation, and she asked us a few questions she had in her Book of Mormon reading. She was excited and ready for her baptism the next day, and asked the father of the family to confirm her on Sunday.

Our investigator's baptism on Saturday went amazingly well. Everything worked out perfectly, probably because I micromanaged everything, but it worked out! Everything was beautifully organized, and we were set :) Everyone including our investigator was cutting it close, but they got there which is the most important part. Our Mission President was even able to attend the baptism! After she was baptized and changed, she bore her testimony to everyone which was incredible. She even got a little emotional as she talked about her conversion! She has overcome drinking coffee, smoking, and a whole bunch of other things, and is stronger because of it. She is awesome!

Saturday evening we were able to attend the Minnesota Mormon Chorale performance "One Step Closer" with two of our other investigator’s kids. Our investigator unfortunately was sick and unable to attend, so she stayed home with the younger kids. It was an amazing performance, but unfortunately the member we lived with was not in this performance because of some illnesses she has been facing. I did hear, however, that she will be performing in the Lamb of God in April, so we will definitely have to get some investigators to attend that performance as well :) The kids liked seeing the church, and thought it was cool that this is the church that their Mom went to when she was younger! They committed to come to church the next day, and we arranged rides for everyone so that it would all work out.

On Sunday our investigator was confirmed, and 4 of our other investigator's kids were able to attend church. After Church we got a text from a family that their daughter’s non-member friend was over, and that they wanted us to "drop by" and share a message with their family. Her friend is awesome! He wants to become a minister, and heads the Bible study club at their school. He has heard a lot of anti-mormon ideas from his Dad, so he had a lot of questions of things that he wanted us to clarify. We were able to teach him about the restoration of the church, and answer a lot of his questions. It was a really cool opportunity for us to be able to teach a members friend! After having dinner with the a different family, we went to teach an investigator with a Brother from the ward. We talked about the Book of Mormon, and she shared with us that every time she listens to the Book of Mormon online, she feels a warm feeling come over her, and she knows that it is true. We talked to her about the Spirit, and that it was testifying to her about the truths of our religion. She really enjoyed our meeting, and brought up again how very grateful she was for our service earlier in the week. It was a great ending to a great week :)
Thank you all so much for all of your love and support! Your prayers are definitely strengthening me. I hope you all have an amazing week :) Talk to you soon!

Best Wishes,
Elder Kyle William Andrews