Monday, May 11, 2015

Final Mission Letter

Hello Everyone,

Wow, I cannot believe this day is here already. This is my final email home. AHHH! So crazy. This past week was super good though, as always. Being a missionary great! Last Monday, Cinco de Cuatro, we had our District P-Day. We hung out with a recent-convert in the Ward, and went to Minneapolis. We hit up the sculpture gardens, the Basilica of St. Mary, and the Foshay Tower. It was awesome! I absolutely love Downtown Minneapolis, so it was a super satisfying District P-Day :) In the evening, our investigator was supposed to have his baptism interview with President Forbes, but he got stuck in Rochester, MN. We talked with him about our investigator, and President decided that he didn't actually need a second interview, so that was good news! We had a family home evening lesson with the a family'. I love that family, but lets be real... I kind of love everyone here in Minnesota. But they are super great! When he was in college, the dad wrote the Book of Lemuel, which I actually had a copy of, so I had him sign it. AWESOME! Then to finish off the day, we visited with the another family and said goodbye. Saying goodbye is weird. It reminds me of leaving for my mission. You say goodbye to people, and it doesn't even feel real. Your mind doesn't even comprehend what is going on. It makes saying goodbye a lot easier though! Plus, serving in America where it is easy to stay in contact and visit with people helps as well.

On Tuesday, Cinco de Mayo and Battle of Puebla Day (MX), we had a Missionary Leadership Council (MLC) so that was really cool! I have been wanting to go to an MLC my whole mission, so it was good to be able to finally go before I head home. We discussed Christ-like leadership, changes in policies for the mission, and a few other things. At the end of MLC, President Forbes asked me and the three other departing missionaries that attended MLC to bear our testimonies. It kind of threw me off at first, but I was super grateful that I got to bear my testimony before I peace out! I talked about the power of missionary work, and the principle of change. I am so grateful for my mission. I shared some advice with everyone that my Grandpa gave me before I left on my mission. He shared with me the three most important rules for your mission. "Obedience, obedience, obedience!" To be totally honest, I am totally a rule breaker by nature. Nothing severe, but I just have a little rebellious streak that keeps things fun and exciting at times. On your mission, however, it just causes problems. At the beginning, I wasn't exactly obedient, and when I was obedient I did it begrudgingly. As a result, the start of my mission was REALLY hard for me. Missions are hard enough, there is no reason to make them more difficult! As I turned to the Lord, and strove to be more obedient, however, it got better. Life is good now :) After MLC, I went on exchange with an elder from Kayesville, Utah. We had a rocking exchange! He goes home next transfer, so we were able to talk things through a little bit. I don't ever want to talk with my companion about going home because I don't want to distract him, so it was really helpful to be able to talk things out haha! For the remainder of the day, we visited with the a family and talked to them about the power of the Book of Mormon. We watched a YouTube video with them called "All About That Book". They loved it! Then to finish off the evening we visited with the another family. We taught the Law of Tithing with candy. We all got a bunch of Star-bursts currency, and had to go through life paying our bills and what not. When we payed our tithing, it was apparent that we received blessings, most of which were unseen. When we didn't we got in a car accident and had to go to the hospital, expenses and stresses that were unforeseen when we payed our tithing. We talked about the diversity of the blessings that God gives us. Often we overlook most of the things that God has blessed us with! All in all, it was a super good lesson.

On Wednesday, we exchanged back and had District Meeting. We talked about receiving revelation through prayer, and the importance of encouraging our investigators to pray as well as praying sincerely ourselves. For a handout, I gave out Hershey's nuggets and said "Here is an important nugget" and shared a scripture (Moroni 7:48) about prayer. It worked out really nicely. It felt really weird though that it was my last District Meeting, and for whatever reason I was possessed to assign myself the closing prayer. It was not fun. I didn't cry, but I was definitely holding back tears. After District Meeting, I went on exchange with an elder form Taiwan. We did some finding for a while and stopped by a few potentials. We met some interesting people to say the least haha! There was one woman that was trying to convert us to her Church, so that is always exciting. She wants us to come to Church with her sometime, but our Churches are at the same time. Kind of an unwritten rule, but when you are a Mormon Missionary, you should probably go to your own Church ;) In the evening we visited with a family and said goodbye, and then had a lesson with the our investigators and planned out his baptism.

On Thursday, National Day of Prayer, we exchanged back and did our weekly service at the library. In the afternoon I packed up a few boxes to ship home, and then I had my last appointment with the Chiropractor. Later we had accountability with the Elders, and then we shared a Mother's Day message with a family. Afterward we visited with another, and I shared the "Repencil" lesson with them. To finish off the day, we had Family Home Evening with a family. We played a vamped up verson of Uno that was super exciting, and then took a bunch of pictures of course!

On Friday we cleaned our apartment, had accountability with the Zone Leaders, and then did our weekly service at the senior center. Gotta love all the people there! For the remainder of the afternoon we had weekly planning. That was super weird for me! My companions that I have sent home in the past had a hard time with weekly planning. In fact, all of them just left it up to me. I told my companion that he would be leading out in the weekly planning, but I tried to participate as best as I could. It shook me up a little bit though to realized that I wouldn't be here for any of the plans that we were making. Kind of depressing. Needless to say, I drank A LOT of Diet Coke in those three hours! In the evening we visited with a part-member family. She recently went through the temple, and her husband is a very active Lutheran. They are a super great family! We shared with them the new Mother's Day video that the Church produced, #TimeForMom, and we talked about Mother's Day. We then visited with another family and said farewell. They are hilarious! To finish off the day, we visited with a woman. She wasn't feeling super good, but we shared a video called the "Emmet Smith Story". It is a true story about a guy who loved to run but had a brain tumor and had to re-learn how to walk and then to run. The doctors told him that he would never be able to walk on his own again, but he set goals and worked really hard to achieve them, and he did! We talked about the power that we have to reach our potential if we are willing to work at it. It was a really good last lesson!

On Saturday I had to wash all of my clothes and start packing in the morning. Yep... that was weird! It kind of feels like another transfer, but this transfer will be WAY different than all of the others. In the afternoon we did some time and then we helped out at the senior center for a while. Every second Saturday the Ward has a Bingo day at the senior center. Good stuff! We had to head out a little bit early to start filling the baptismal font and start setting up for our investigator’s baptism. He got baptized, and it was awesome :) When we were planning his baptism service, his wife was pretty adamant about not speaking at his baptism. She does not like speaking in front of large groups of people. After he was baptized, she asked if she could say a few words and she bore her testimony and talked about the changes that he has undergone to become a member of the Church and the influence that the Church has had in their lives. It was awesome! You could feel the Spirit so strongly! In the evening we had a bunch of goodbye visits. We saw the three different families. There are so many great people in this ward! I don't know how missionaries do it when they don't have a week to say goodbye like I do. Crazy stuff!

On Sunday, Mother's Day, we of course had Church in the morning. So many good talks about Mothers :) Our investigator was confirmed a member of the Church, and then they announced that it was my last Sunday. That was tough. After Church we went over to the the ward mission leader’s house and Skyped home. This Skype call was very different, however. We made a few plans for my return home, discussed a few other things, and then we were off to other things haha ;) It was fun to see everyone, but if it weren't Mother's Day it would have been kind of pointless to Skype just a few days before you return home haha! My companion had a harder time with his Skype call. It was a VERY emotional time for him and his family. I don't think my Skype calls have ever been particularly distracting to me, but I think it was really tough for him. In the evening we visited with the a family, and then I had to start packing. Kind of bad planning on my part! I didn't think about the fact that it would present extra time for my companion to dwell on his Skype call with his family and think about things back home. I had him watch a movie and sign my testimony journal though, so I think he was good.

Today we drove to Sonic of course, and I had my exit interview with President Forbes. It was SUPER casual. We were chilling on the couch in the Mission Home discussing my plans for when I return home. He advised me to continue reading my scriptures, praying, and serving others. Inactivity is a big concern for Mission Presidents when they send their missionaries home. He told me to take my education seriously, and to take dating seriously as well. He told me not to get married in three months, which I appreciated haha! He told me to review the For The Strength of Youth pamphlet when I return home, and to attend the temple often. He advised me not to live in Utah for the rest of my life, and I very much so agreed. After my exit interview, we went to the Mall of America with the ward mission leader and our Zone Leaders. Oh my gosh! It was breathtaking! Definitely a spiritual experience :) I absolutely loved it. I took SO many pictures, but the pictures don't even do it justice. I will definitely be returning there one day soon :) AND, (my Mom will be proud of me for this part) I didn't actually buy anything while we were there! #I'mAwesome #I'mBroke #NextTime. The Forbes are flying out to Utah tomorrow morning at 6:00 AM, so we will be spending tomorrow with a senior missionary couple. It has been fun!

Thank you all for all of your love and support while I have been here in the MMM. I can't believe that my time here has come to a close, but it's been real. I truly have the best friends and family members in the world :) I will SEE you all soon!

Best Wishes,

Elder Kyle William Andrews

Monday, May 4, 2015

Living Gospel Principles

Hello Everyone,

This week has been kind of crazy, but as always, it all came together in the end haha! On Monday we had our Zone P-Day. We went bowling and then we played some games in a park afterwards. It was super fun! The Minneapolis Zone is the best :) I wasn't half bad at bowling either, which is surprising, because bowling is NOT my thing! I was talking with the Assistants about scheduling my exit interview so not to conflict with our Mall of America trip, and they filled me in on some mission news. President Forbes will be in Salt Lake City when our group goes home for a Mission Presidents training. We will instead be spending our last day with Elder Rulon F. Stacey (former CEO of Fairfield hospitals) from our Mission Presidency who was just called as an Area Seventy. Because of all of this insanity, they are trying to schedule our exit interviews before President Forbes leaves for Salt Lake. Kind of insane! In the evening we had a Family Home Evening with the two families in the ward. One family just recently moved in to the ward, so it was good to be able to get to know them better. We had a lot of really great gospel discussions with them, but I think one thing that I learned the most about was living up to our marriage covenants. Just because you are sealed does not mean you can stop living gospel principles!

On Tuesday we had District Meeting, and the Zone Leaders were able to come. We had a really great discussion about member missionary work, and how we can assist the members in our wards to do this work. I was able to reference a book that my grandparents sent me, "The Highly Effective Missionary" which talks a LOT about member missionary work! It worked out really nicely. After District Meeting we did some finding and visited with our investigators. We discussed the baptismal interview questions with the husband, and reviewed a couple of commandments with him. We then contacted President Forbes and scheduled his baptismal interview. With President Forbes leaving here shortly, his schedule is SUPER busy, but luckily we were able to figure out a time that works for both of their schedules. In the evening we went out joint teaching with the bishop and had a lesson with an investigator family. We talked about the Gospel of Jesus Christ (faith, repentance, baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end). For repentance we used a fun visual by filling a jar with water, and putting drops of food coloring in it to represent sin. Then as we repent, we poured bleach into the dark nasty water which cleansed it so that it was clean and pure again! They asked us a lot of questions about baptism, so we had a really great discussion about that as well.

On Wednesday we had lunch with the other Elders at a pizza place which is probably one of my favorite restaurants in Minnesota, and then we volunteered at the charity. There were only 7 of us there in the session, so we didn't get us much done as we normally do when we go. We did, however, meet a really nice Indian couple that we were working with. They are Hindu, so I talked to them about my experience at the Holi Festival of Colors at the Holi Krishna Temple in Spanish Fork, Utah. They have been to the legit Holi Festival of Colors in India, and said that it is a definite must see! Next stop... India :) Funny how life experiences like getting covered in and in-hailing a bunch of colored chalk dust can help you to connect to other people! In the afternoon we stopped by a few new records that we received in the ward, and confirmed a few addresses for those people. In the evening we went out joint teaching with the ward mission leader, and he demonstrated a new initiative that the Minneapolis Stake is doing for record removals. Basically what we do with people that are not interested in the Church anymore is we talk about how when they are baptized, a record is created for them. That record will follow them for the rest of their life and will transfer with them whenever they move. With that record, members will always stop by from time to time to see how they are doing and to see if the Church can help them in any way. If they do not want contact with the Church anymore and they do not want to be a member anymore, then they must request to have their records removed. We visited with three people in the evening, and that was definitely the case with all three of them! So hopefully we will get some work done and clean up the records here. It is crazy how many people are inactive and super anti towards the Church that are on the Church records out in the mission field!

On Thursday we did our weekly service at the library. We put a bunch of books, movies, magazines, and audio books away. Always a party! Later we had accountability with the other Elders, and then I had a chiropractor appointment. I love all the people in the chiropractic office! Definitely will need to take a picture with all of them before I leave. My last appointment is next Thursday, so I will need to remember to do that! In the afternoon we did some finding and we met this super cool kid. He is 16 years old, and his family is Catholic, but they never go to Church. He is very curious about everything, and has a lot of questions that his Church has never been able to answer for him. He said that he wasn't interested in meeting with us, but then he kept talking with us and asking questions. We gave him a card and a pamphlet with all of our information on it, and then we said that we would stop by again in the future to see what he thought of it. We shall see where things go! We also met a guy who lives on a farm. He was vacuuming these purple things that look like rocks out of this big farm machine, and I started to talk with him. I asked if there was anything we could do to help, and inquired about the purple rocks. He laughed and said "You're not from around here are you!" Apparently those purple rocks are corn seeds, and the big farm machine is a seed planter. We talked a little bit, and shared a card with him. Unfortunately he wasn't super interested though. In the evening we did some finding, and set up a few appointments with a few people for before I go home.

On Friday, May Day and Labor Day in Mexico, we did some time in the morning. Later we had an accountability call with our Zone Leaders. Good times! In the afternoon we visited with a member and shared the video with her "Only A Stonecutter". This video is awesome, and talks about the importance of consecration, service, and the power of one. For the remainder of the afternoon we did our Weekly Planning. In the evening we stopped by a few potential investigators and then had a lesson with a member. We shared the video "The Mountain Of The Lord" with her and talked to her about the temple. She had been having an AWFUL day, so it was good to be able to brighten it up a little bit. She had some questions in previous lessons about the temple, so it was good to be able to answer those for her.

On Saturday we did some Area Book work and then visited with an investigator family in the afternoon. We reviewed the commandments and talked to him about some baptism plans. Later in the afternoon we did some service for one of the member's friends. He bought these SUPER heavy rocks and so we helped him move them. It was a party, and I thought one of us were going to lose a finger or an arm for a while. In the evening we had the Adult Session of Stake Conference. We went with a member family, so that was super fun! Elder G. Lawrence Spackman from Calgary, Canada was presiding! Gotta love those Canadian's :) He was hilarious! He talked a lot about missionary work, as well as the work of the ministering of angels. He talked about the work that angels are doing on the other side, and I remember the whole time he spoke I was reminded about the aid that I have received from the other side while I have been on my mission. I remembered that in the first letter I received from my Mom on my mission she told me about the aid that I would be receiving from my Uncle Wayne, and he certainly has been there for me numerous times on my mission.

On Sunday we had Stake Conference in a ward building I served in, so that was super fun! It brought back a lot of memories from when I served in that ward. That Stake had Stake Conference that day as well so I wasn't able to see the members of that Ward, but I did see the bishop at the Church later in the day, so that was super fun! I learned a lot about the importance of reading the scriptures every day, and the importance of families joining together in the gospel. In the afternoon we did some finding and stopped by a few potentials. We had a visit with a family in the ward, and talked a lot about the missionary work going on here in the ward. The dad is in the Stake Presidency, so we don't see him a whole lot. We received a call from the bishop asking us to make some time to visit with the a specific family before I go home, and so when we had an appointment fall through in the evening we went and visited with them. That family lost their mom to cancer about three years ago. They have had a tough time with it, as expected, but his 14 year old son, is having an especially hard time with it. We talked with the dad for a while, and he shared with us his conversion story and many stories from his mission. We shared a Mormon message with him called "Mountains To Climb" and asked him to share it with his son. It was a really great visit!

Thank you all for all of your love and support! SEE you soon!

Best Wishes,

Elder Kyle William Andrews