Monday, April 28, 2014

Love For My Savior

Hello Everyone,

This week has been amazing and exhausting, but great :) On Monday we went joint teaching. We had a lesson with the miraculous phone call woman I mentioned a week ago. We taught her about the restoration. Unfortunately her mind was a little pre-occupied as we met with her, and she was really concerned about some projects that she needed help with. Hopefully after we provide the much needed service for her, she will be able to devote more time to the gospel. After the lesson we went on a quick church tour, and she met a less-active woman that she knows. It was really great for her to connect with her again, and to recognize that she would have friends in our congregation. Maybe it will even reactive her ;) Afterwards we went over and stopped by a less-active recent convert. She talked about how she needed help finding employment, and that she was having a really difficult time with it. The joint teach talked with her for a little while about some customer service jobs that he was aware of, and tried to help her out. Later in the evening we stopped by the home of a less-active family. They are NEVER home, so it was kind of a shot in the dark. Amazingly, one of them was home. We talked to her about coming back to Church, and she was thrilled! She has to work on most Sundays, but she committed to make an effort to get at least one Sunday off a month.

On Tuesday we had an apartment inspection. I am never overly concerned with these inspections, because I am kind of a neat freak. I am quite bothered sometimes when I am transferred to a new area, and the apartment is a wreck! That was definitely the case with this apartment. Slowly throughout the transfer though, I try to fix up the apartments that I live in. I feel like it makes a HUGE difference for me at least, so it is more than worth it! Afterwards we went to our District Meeting. In the evening we went joint teaching. We had a great lesson with the our investigator family! The wife is a member, and their daughter is getting baptized in December. We taught about the restoration, and talked a lot about the Priesthood authority, and that the father could baptize his daughter in December if he himself is baptized and receives the Priesthood. He really liked that! We also talked about how their family could be sealed together in the temple, and be a forever family. It truly was an amazing lesson! Afterwards we stopped by a referral we received from our Zone Leaders. They were busy that evening, but he really wants his kids to learn about the gospel. We set up an appointment for Monday, so hopefully everything will work out!

On Wednesday we stopped by a less-active member. We got to know him a little better, and he talked about government and politics, and hunting and fishing, and everything you can imagine. There were a few moments that I had to bite my tongue, but it worked out great! We shared a message about the Atonement with him, and then he said that we had to take off because Dancing With the Stars was coming on. OH MY GOSH!!!! I love DWTS :) He is old school, so he has to watch everything live, so I totally understood. We talked briefly about how amazing the ballroom dancers and the celebrities on the show were, and then we were off. I never would have imagined that he would be a DWTS fan! Kind of cool :) We updated our Area Book, and then went joint teaching. We stopped by our investigator, the former drug lord, and taught about the restoration. He really liked the message we shared, but I realized that he was more interested in learning about all the different churches so that he can borrow different ideas and create his own church. He kind of missed the boat, but we can recover with him how this is the ONLY true church. We will have to see how things go! We finished off the evening by stopping by the bread lady. She is awesome! We mentioned that we had transfers coming up, and she wasn't very happy. She told us to text our Mission President and tell him no. I felt like jumping up and down and yelling "she likes me, she really likes me!", but I decided not to. She is a tough nut to crack! I never know what she is thinking.

On Thursday we had a Zone Service Project planned, but it rained a lot so it was cancelled. We had to completely re-plan our day which was quite eventful! We ended up going the food bank to do our weekly service instead. In the evening we stopped by an investigator’s to talk about an African Culture Night that we heard about. She confirmed that there was in fact an African Culture Night on Saturday evening, and that she was completely overwhelmed with stress because of it. She is not your typical African! She likes things to be planned out, written down, and scheduled. I love it! Most Africans are completely opposite. We offered to help, but the other ward that was involved needed to get back to her first. Hopefully we at least were able to help her to de-stress!

On Friday we had weekly planning. It was kind of interesting, it is always kind of weird planning for the week of transfers. You never know what is going to happen! I was pretty confident that I was going to be transferred, but I was not particularly thrilled about it. I realized that no matter what happens, it will be great! If I am transferred, I will most likely get a car. AWESOME! If I stay, I get to keep working with all the people that I know and love here. So either way will be just fine. Afterwards, I decided that we were going to work on the ward directory. We went through and called everyone that we didn't know to confirm phone numbers and addresses, and to try and set up appointments to meet with them. We found a bunch of people that have moved, phone numbers that no longer work, and we even scheduled an appointment to meet with someone on Sunday evening! It was awesome :) I love little projects like this! Okay... brace yourselves. We were making dinner, and I realized that not everyone knows basic food handling and food safety techniques. I was cooking chicken, and had the raw chicken on a cutting board. To avoid cross contamination, I went to the sink and washed the cutting board while the chicken was cooking. I then put the cooked chicken on the cutting board and cut it into pieces. I was combining the chicken with some pasta that I had made earlier, and I noticed that my companion was using the knife that I used to cut the chicken to cut some butter on the cutting board that I had used to cut the chicken. GROSS! So we had a little lesson on food safety and food handling :) I am SO grateful that I was able to be involved in FACS courses while I was in high school, and to learn how to cook at home as well. Little things like food safety help so much when you are out on your own! Hopefully I was able to help my companion, rather than bother him, but it was kind of fun to be a mini FACS teacher for a moment. Thank you Mom, Mrs. Draschil, Mrs. Cluff, and Miss Williams :)

On Saturday we had a service project in the morning with a family in the ward. We moved a futon and replaced it with a couch, and then transported the futon and arranged it in their house. Afterwards they told us that all the missionaries have tried to unicycle at their house and that it was a requirement to try it while they video tape you failing. It was an interesting experience, but I certainly do not have a future in uni cycling! (You might be receiving that embarrassing video sometime in the future.) They later had us try their low rider bikes that you sit all the way down in. Those were kind of fun! Afterwards we went out tracting and met a really nice Jehovah's Witness man. We got talking about the gospel, and we realized that he was trying to convert us! He invited us to their service on Sunday, but it overlapped with our Church service. Maybe we can attend a later service sometime... not sure if that is the best idea though. We will see! In the evening we attended the African Culture Night. It was in honor of the the senior couple, because they return home from their mission on May 12th. It was awesome to be able to take part in the African culture. Their food is super spicy, but their music is pretty cool :) The senior couple were even gowned in official African clothing which was really cool to see!

Sunday was SUPER rainy and cold. We had Fast Sunday, because next week is Stake Conference. We went joint teaching, and stopped by a less-active member that we set the appointment with over the phone. It was cool! We talked about his involvement in AA, and how the Word of Wisdom is a blessing in our lives. He committed to come to church in a few week which will be awesome! We then stopped by another less-active member. We had a lesson with her about the Plan of Salvation. They are a really kind family, but her husband is fairly anti about the Church, and so she doesn't come. Hopefully we can help him to overcome that so that she can return to activity in the Church. We finished off the evening stopping by a few people, and were informed about a sketchy neighborhood that we should avoid in the evenings. Last week a pizza man was shot and killed on someone's doorstep, and another man on that street committed suicide. Not a good street this week! The weather is starting to warm up, and so the crime and murder rate is increasing. Not good! Otherwise, it was a great evening!

We got our transfer emails today, and I am staying in the area! :) My companion is being transferred, and I will be serving with another elder. I am excited to see what this next transfer has to bring :) Thank you all for your love and support! You are the best :)

Best Wishes,
Elder Kyle William Andrews

Monday, April 7, 2014

General Conference Recharges our Batteries

Hello Everyone,
I just wanted to start out my letter by making it clear that I do NOT enjoy the snow and cold weather! This past week we got about 12 more inches of snow after a rather warm day previous to it. Luckily it is starting to melt again, and the weather is gradually improving, but I am not impressed ;) Oh Minnesota, why do you hate me?!?!?

On Monday, after our P-Day activities we went out joint teaching with a newly called ward missionary. He used to live in the same apartment complex as one of the senior couple’s' West African investigators. We set up an appointment Monday evening to meet with him, but unfortunately the appointment fell through. West African people are great, but they run on their own time schedule. You can be three hours late to your appointment with them, and they might even think you are early! I guess this is my own payback for not being the most timely person in the world before my mission. I tried to mostly be on time to things, but often it didn't work out the greatest. After the appointment was cancelled, our joint teach decided to take us out to Culvers. We were able to talk with him, and to really connect with him which was great! Before this meeting, our joint teach was less than enthusiastic about his new calling, and I think maybe we made a little bit of progress during our visit. He really opened up to us, which was amazing!

On Tuesday, we began the day with some Area Book work. We went through former investigators, potential investigators, phone numbers and random addresses in the Area Book, and got to work. I sent out more than 300 texts inviting everyone in the phone and people we found in the Area Book to attend General Conference. Through this effort, we found a lot of disconnected numbers, people that have moved, people that aren't interested in hearing from the missionaries, and.... 1 person that wanted to attend General Conference! It was awesome :) I wish our success rate was a little higher, but hey, we got one positive response to General Conference! Later that day, we had dinner with a family. I love that family, they are so fun! And being April Fools Day, the mom got us all pretty good. She had prepared our "drinks" earlier on in the day, and when we sat down, the dad tried to take a drink, only to find out that our drinks were red jello! I love fun holidays like April Fools Day :) Actually, I just like Holidays in general! After dinner, we went out joint teaching with the dad. We were able to meet with a less-active member. While at her house, her hairless cat decided that it wanted to be my friend. NOT okay! I try to refrain from coming in contact with cats in general, but ESPECIALLY a hairless cat. It looks like an over sized rodent, and when it brushed against my arm I got the chills all up and down my body. It was insistent on me petting it, SO gross! I sucked it up, but I'm pretty sure my facial expressions were not the greatest. Gotta love peoples animals sometimes ;) I don't know why everyone doesn't just have a cute little dog!

On Wednesday, I went on exchange with an elder in a different area. We biked to the exchange again, but it was a little better this time. While we were tracting we found this woman who wasn't super interested, but she mentioned that she was in need of help. She is having a tough time with her finances, and wanted some advice. I am not one to offer financial advice, but I did suggest that we could pray together. She held out her hand, and I realized that she wanted to stand in a circle holding hands, and pray. Kind of different, but it was cool! She had bright blue hair extensions, and was a pretty neat lady. Hopefully she will be able to receive the help she needs. Maybe one day she will even be open to learning more about the gospel. Afterwards we were contacting people on the streets of North Minneapolis. We were talking to this man as he walked to the bus stop, and all the sudden this woman started yelling at us and calling us over to her! She had met with missionaries in the past before she moved, and she wanted to begin meeting with them again. While the initial contact was kind of scary, it was really cool to see that we were in the right place at the right time. We set up an appointment to meet with her later in the week because she was busy at the time, and then we went on to Downtown Minneapolis, my favorite! This time I even got a halfway decent picture of the skyline :) While we were downtown, I started to strike up a conversation with this man who was walking down the street. All of the sudden he ran across the street as the light was changing and ditched us. It happens a lot, so I ignored it, but what happens next it certainly not typical! We later were able to cross the street, and were walking for a while when he turned around and started singing to us about how much he loved us, and he gave us a big group hug. Kind of creepy, but maybe he needed the hug! I'm pretty sure he was drunk, but I didn't really smell any alcohol on his breath, and he didn't smell like pot. Our neighbor is an avid pot smoker, so we know exactly when he is lighting up! As he walked away, his pants were falling down, and then he bent over and mooned us. Maybe he was an odd fellow, or he was under the influence of something ;) Definitely a contact to remember though haha! We finished off the evening with a rather unfortunate ending. We were riding our bikes, and watched a woman's car stall as she tried to speed through an intersection. We stopped and offered to help, even though I know absolutely nothing about cars, but we offered to push her car to the side of the road. Something was off about this woman, but we proceeded to try and help. A couple stopped and tried to help work with her as well. The woman offered to try and work with the lady in the car, but we weren't making much progress. She kept just sitting there trying to start up her car and get out! All of the sudden a man came running over, and said "Oh good, you got her to stop!" He told us that she had just been filling up her car at the Super America, and that she had backed up into someones car, and drove off the curb and the sidewalk speeding away. She was hardcore drunk, and had a big bottle of vodka sitting in the passenger seat. The fact that her car stopped itself was a heaven send! The police eventually caught up with us, and then we were off. Kind of sad that this all had to happen, but luckily no one was seriously injured!

On Thursday we had our District Meeting, and then our weekly service. I again was in the refrigerator stocking things for most of the time, but eventually I was out of the cold stocking boxes and other things on the shelves. A member picked us up, and took us to Taco Bell for dinner. We had an appointment after dinner with an investigator, but she called an cancelled. She had been in a fist fight with 8 other people a few days previous, and her face was extremely swollen, so she was unable to meet with us. The people here have a VERY different lifestyle than I am used to, but this type of event is fairly common. People here get in fist fights all the time, and occasionally you will come across a crime scene in Minneapolis where there will have been a drive by shooting, or some kind of murder. It's really sad, but it is normal for the cities. While we were out with the member, he gave us a lot of life advice and we had a really great talk with him, so it was great to be able to listen and to learn from him even though our evening plans didn't work out so great!

On Friday we had weekly planning, and we did a teaching evaluation with our ward mission leader and his family. Such a great family! We also finalized all of our plans and invitations to General Conference. I can't believe that it has seriously been six months since the last General Conference! It is crazy how time flies.

On Saturday our day was mostly consumed by General Conference. I love Elder W. Craig Zwick's speech on constructive communication. We had the opportunity to attend a devotional with Elder Zwick while in the MTC, and I just really enjoyed listening to him. His presentation all together was done very well, and was really interesting to listen to! He must have taken Public Speaking classes in college like I did haha ;) I could listen to him all day! We were invited over to a family’s home for lunch, and then we continued on with the next session of General Conference. After that session, we had dinner with the Sessions, and then... you guessed it, attended more General Conference! I liked President Thomas S. Monson's talk about having courage to stand strong. I'm sure you are all tired of hearing this quote by now, because I have heard that it was a hit on Facebook, but I liked his quote "If you find yourself where you shouldn't ought to be, get out!"

On Sunday we had a breakfast with members, missionaries, and investigators before General Conference began. Then, we went right into conference! I really enjoyed President Thomas S. Monson's talk on Christlike love. It was my favourite talk of the entire conference in fact! The quote that he shared by Dale Carnegie was a great one. Afterwards, we had lunch with the senior couple' and then attended the closing session with at the a different family’s home. We had planned to watch General Conference with that family and a different family to get the sister’s non-member father to watch General Conference with us, but he got called into work last minute. It was fun to be able to switch things up and watch the last session of General Conference with them anyways, plus I love spending time with their Scottish Terrier Winston :) After conference, we had dinner with an entire member family and then went joint teaching with another brother. Kind of a scattered day, but it all worked out :)

Thank you all so much for all of your love and support! It has been another great week here in Minnesota (minus the snow), and I hope that things are going well back home :) Have a great week!

Best Wishes,
Elder Kyle William Andrews