This week has been kind of interesting. There were several different themes that continued throughout the week, but it was a good week :) On Monday, Noche del Grito (MX), I had my 16 month mark on my mission, and to celebrate we went to St. Paul's Cathedral. Holy cow! I can't believe I have been out for 16 months. I also can't believe how beautiful St. Paul's Cathedral was! It was incredible! I took quite a few pictures, but they simply do not do it justice. The architecture is absolutely incredible. I just remember looking in awe the entire time we were there. I hope one day to be able to visit the Vatican City, but for now St. Paul's Cathedral was good enough :) Also on Monday we got an email from our Mission President informing us that we all needed to get our flu shot. I got my flu shot at Walgreen's, and my companion got his at CVS. I had a really good experience getting mine, and he did not. Walgreens is so great, they have really great customer service and always greet you and ask you if you need any help when you are there. CVS on the other hand... not so great. He went and got his flu shot there, and the lady practically stabbed him with the needle, and it just wasn't a good experience. Plus he didn't even get a cool band-aid. I got a fun Walgreen's band-aid, and he just got a generic beige one. Lame! In the evening we also visited with a less active member, and shared a message with him from General Conference a few years back, "Be Anxiously Engaged". We talked about the importance of serving others; that is how we are able to answer the prayers of God's children.
On Tuesday, Dia de la Independencia (MX), we woke up and my companion was not feeling so hot from his flu shot. Bishop asked us to come to the Church while he interviewed a single sister, and my companion started to feel a little bit better, but still not great. All of the sudden I started feeling super fatigued, and my body kind of ached. I kept going though, luckily I wasn't nearly as bad as my companion. In the evening we went out joint teaching with Bishop. We had an awesome visit with our new member on the Priesthood. Bishop interviewed him for the Priesthood, and he was sustained and given the Priesthood on Sunday. SWEET :) After visiting with him, we were going to head over to someones home, but we noticed that a less active member was home. I have been trying to get in contact with her for 8 months now, and I have never met her. She was out on her lawn hanging some clothes on the line. She invited us in and we had a really great discussion with her. She really opened up and was able to vent a little bit. She was deeply offended by a member a few years back, and so she hasn't been going to Church. While we were talking she got really angry and started telling us a lot about her life back in Liberia and all of the things she has overcome. She is such a strong woman. She had to watch her father as he was beheaded. Later she had to watch her pregnant cousin as she was beheaded. After she was beheaded, they cut open her stomach, cooked her child, and ate it in front of the family. Apparently part of the punishment system in Liberia is that the family is forced to witness the gruesome deaths of their family members. After she cooled down a little bit, Bishop asked her if she would like us to institute the Sacrament. She agreed and we prepared and blessed the Sacrament. Bishop had all of us partake of the Sacrament, so I had the Sacrament twice this week! It was a really cool experience though watching her countenance change as she partook of the Sacrament, and her renewed spirit that followed. Certainly an experience that I will probably never forget.
On Wednesday we had an awesome lesson with a new member. They just returned home from England this week, so he had a lot of great stories to tell us from their travels abroad! He mentioned to us that he was going to the last Twins game this season next Wednesday, and that we could come with him if we would like. I don't know if he was joking or not, but we said we would ask our Mission President. We taught him the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and he was really interested in the section on repentance. He is formerly Catholic, so he is used to the more formalized confessionals. It was a great lesson though! Afterwards we did mormon.org time at the library. In the evening we went joint teaching with our Ward Mission Leader. We had a great lesson with a new member. Her daughters had just left to go see a movie, so we missed them, but it was good to catch her at least. We talked to her about the Gospel of Jesus Christ, more specifically on enduring to the end. Later we went and visited with the a family and invited them to the ward party on Saturday. (The son answered the door kind of awkwardly, and then told us that he was playing video games downstairs and didn't have any clothes on. Otherwise he would have invited us in. Kind of funny!)
On Thursday we had a Zone Training at the Stake Center. It was a really great training! Sister Forbes reminds me a lot of a seminary teacher. She always teaches us through reading the scriptures. (Not always my favorite approach, but I guess it probably works. I think balance is key.) President Forbes talked to us a lot about changing up our approach to missionary work, and increasing our contact with members. After Zone Training we were able to talk to President Forbes, and he told us that we could go to the Twins game! When we got home from Zone Training we went out and stopped by an investigator. He got a job like a month ago, and kind of fell off the face of the earth. We stopped by, and he was home! We talked to him and re-established contact. We taught him the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and he committed to come to the ward party on Saturday and Church on Sunday! It was good to see him again :) In the evening we went out joint teaching. We had a lesson with a new member on the Word of Wisdom. As we taught, he testified of the importance of the Word of Wisdom. He talked about the influence that it has had on him and his family and how it protects us spiritually and physically. He is awesome! Later we stopped by an investigator, but she was not home. There was a lady outside that we talked to for a while though. Her daughter has come to Church with our investigator’s kids a couple times, and she has sat in on a few of our lessons. She is great :) She said that she really appreciated us reaching out to her and inviting her to come to our Church. She said that she is really glad that her daughter has a Church and some good friends. They live in a rough part of Minneapolis, so she is grateful for the influence the Church is having on her. We invited them to the ward party on Saturday and gave her our mormon.org card. Hopefully we will be able to meet with her again! We finished off the evening with a visit with a less active member. He called us while we were at Zone Training and asked us to come see him. We shared with him Bonnie L. Oscarson's talk "Be Ye Converted" and talked about the influence his conversion has had on his family. Our joint teacher married someone who shared their last name, so it was kind of cool to have him there as our joint teacher!
On Friday we had Weekly Planning. There was definitely some contention between the two of us, so it was kind of painful at times. Then we had companionship inventory. That truly was an inspired idea! I don't know who came up with it, but it is super helpful :) Things were good after that. We had a lesson with a member, and watched with him the movie "On The Lord's Errand". It goes through the life of President Monson and all of the amazing things he has done. (I remember as we watched it, I was kind of distracted thinking about someone who passed. One of this weeks themes was death. On Tuesday Bishop was talking a lot about all the funerals we have had in the ward recently, and then we visited with the woman who talked about all of the gruesome deaths in her family. Then we watched the movie and I was thinking about how Sister Monson kind of recently passed - when I first began my mission. Then I was reminded that on Saturday we had a Zone Service Project at the Anoka Cemetery. All of the sudden I felt the spirit really strongly. I remember almost hearing that everything was okay, and that I need to just focus on missionary work. He wouldn't want me to be distracted, he would want me to double my efforts in his honor and on behalf of the Savior. He too was a truly remarkable man. It was a really cool moment though.) After our lesson we went over to the Church and started filling up the baptismal font. One of the Sister Missionaries investigators was getting baptized. We filled up the font, and then walked over and picked up an investigator. It was a really great baptismal service! The funny thing about the sister’s investigator, is that she went through each missionary in our ward. We got her mormon.org referral texted to our phone, and forwarded it to the other Elders. They taught her the restoration, and passed her off to the Sisters. The Sisters set a baptismal date with her, and she was baptized! Awesome :) Our investigator really enjoyed the baptism, and said that it answered all of his questions about baptism. On the way back to his house we walked and talked about prayer and scripture study and had a quick lesson with him. He said that he was pretty excited to get baptized like that woman!
On Saturday we had a Zone Service Project at the Anoka City Cemetery. We were doing some headstone maintenance. We dug around the headstones, pulled them up, put extra dirt underneath them, made sure they were level, and put dirt around them. A lot of them you could barely see because they were so covered with grass that had grown over. It was a nice service project though! I was a little worried about how everything was going to go over, but it worked out great. There were a lot of members there that were helping us out as well. One of which was an 80 year-old man. They specifically told us to use a special tool to lift the headstones so that we did not scratch them, and to NOT use a shovel. The 80 year-old, however, decided to use a shovel anyway. He asked me for some help a few times, and I couldn't help but notice a few scratched that he had put on some headstones. It was on the side that would be buried anyway, but still, those things are expensive! He was having some struggles though, so I helped him out. He kept pulling the headstones all the way out, and then a few times he put them in backwards so the names were the other direction. He didn't really care, but I like organization and was having a little OCD moment. LEAVE THE NAMES FACING THE SAME DIRECTION! Who knew I would be particular at a cemetery. Let this be a warning to everyone though. When I am dead, and maintenance is done for my headstone, I will come back and haunt you if my headstone is scratched or my name is facing the opposite direction as everyone else's. That is all. In the afternoon after we got all cleaned up, we went and visited with a new member. We share the talk "The Home: The School of Life" with her, and talked about having a Christ centered home. We asked her if there was anything we could do for her, and she informed us that she has been trying to work on a toy motorcycle that she bought for her daughters birthday, but she hasn't been able to figure it out. So then we worked on her daughter’s motorcycle! We got it all put together, and she took it on a test run. She was super excited, but her test run was kind of sad. The batteries had not been charged, so she went painfully slow. It works though! In the evening we attended the ward activity. It was a pinewood derby and chili cook off! Our investigator came and had a great time :) It is always fun to get together as a ward. They last minute had the missionaries help out with the pinewood derby. I was in charge of stamping tickets, and organizing sets of three cars for each race. So basically I was the jerk that had to turn the kids away when they had already done 10 races. It was an adventure for sure. It worked out though!
On Sunday we had Ward Council in the morning, where we prepared for Ward Conference next week. Sacrament Meeting was really great, and our investigator came to Church with us. Another investigator was feeling really sick on Saturday and Sunday so he wasn't able to come. After Church we had all of our regular meetings. Correlation with the Ward Mission Leader and Ward Missionaries, and our weekly meeting with Bishop. In the evening, we went out and did some finding. It seriously felt like no one was home! We knocked on some active members and they invited us in. They told us that they were heading over to the another member’s house in 10 minutes, and that we were welcome to come and join them for desserts. Fun! So we had a party. They families are related, so that is always fun. They are awesome though!
It was a pretty great week! Today for District P-Day we are going to the Como Zoo in St. Paul, and then later this week we are going to a Twins game with a member. Should be an action packed week! Thank you all for all of your love and support. You are the best!
Elder Kyle William Andrews