Monday, August 25, 2014

Have We Not Great Reason to Rejoice?

     Well, I can´t believe I´m saying this, but this is it! I´ve got these last couple days in the mission to visit my sectors and say goodbye to so many people I´ve come to love. Yesterday I went to Las Brisas to say goodbye and it was a very emotional day--happy, but sad, exciting, but heartbreaking. Everytime I try to explain my mission experience in words I just sound really cliche, and I probably sound really cliche right now... But I just want to say that this experience has been one that has changed my life for the better. I don´t know who I´d be or where I´d be if I hadn´t had come on my mission. I have met wonderful people who just love me unconditionally, and I have learned from them how the love of our Heavenly Father must be. I have seen miracles, and I have seen God´s hand in this work. I am so grateful for every experience I´ve had, even the tough ones. I was reading in Alma 26 today and I feel like it sums up most of my emotions about the mission. Thanks for always writing and being good examples to me. I love you SO much and can´t wait to see you in a couple days!!!!!! I know this church is the true and restored church of God. I know the Book of Mormon is the word of God and that it was translated by the power of God by the prophet Joseph Smith. There is not a doubt in my mind that these things are true. I know that Jesus Christ is my Savior and that He knows what we´re going through, He´s felt everything we will ever feel, so He knows how to lift us up when we fall.
     I´m excited to see you all. I hope you have a great couple days!  See you soon!

Con mucho amor, Hermana Anderson

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Give me this mountain!

     Hola! Saludos a todos! I´m gonna write this letter more like a journal entry because everyday has just been jammed pack with stuff!

Monday: We went to Larcomar for P day and rode bikes on the playa. It was really pretty and it was nice to get away from the city for a bit. Hermana Belt will be sending pictures ha. We had to pedal up big hills and I realized how completely out of shape I am!

Tuesday: We woke up in the morning and realized not only were we completely sore from riding bikes for 2 hours, but we were both sick with the cold. The cold air on the beach had really gotten to us. But that day we were supposed to have exchanges with the hermanas in our ward, and I decided I wasn´t going to waste a day in bed sick, so I just took some medicine and we went out to work. Hermana Belt was pretty sick, so she stayed in bed with Hna. Santillana and Hna Castillo and I had to cover all the set appointments in both sectors. So we were walking the whole ward limits. When we started out I I thought, ¨we´re probably going to have a great day, because I could be sitting in bed resting, but we´ll be blessed for my sacrifice.¨ But as the day went on, we knocked house after house after house, and nobody opened for us. We actually started laughing because even the set appts. fell through-- all of them! And then we got a call from one of the hermanas in the zone who said that her mouth was swelling up because she had had some kind of allergic reaction. We had to call hermana Borg and get her to the doctor. All of that together in one day made me wonder, ¨Why aren´t we seeing the blessings?¨ But, just as I´ve learned on so many other occasions in my mission, we can´t tell the Lord when we think the blessings should come. They come in their own due time, when the Lord sees best. 

Wednesday: On Wednesday we went to my last multizone meeting. President Borg told us a story from the old testament that has become my new favorite theme. When the children of Israel were walking around in the desert, Moses sent spies to Canaan to bring back a report. Ten of the spies came back and said it would be impossible for them to enter into the promised land. Only Joshue and Caleb came back saying they would be able to enter with the Lord´s help. Well, after 45 more years wondering around in the desert, the children of Israel finally were able to enter into the promised land. Caleb, after all his loyalty towards the Lord, and after having to deal with the children of Israel for 45 more years in the desert, is given his own portion of the promised land, a mountain infested with giants! But the only thing Caleb has to say is, ¨Give my this mountain! ...for my strength is in the Lord.¨ (Joshua 14). We all should have the same kind of attitude when faced with any trial, ¨Bring it on!¨ Give me this mountain! We really can do anything if our faith and trust is in the Lord.

Thursday:  We had another exchange and a brand new north american hermana came with me, Hermana Amis. I´ve only trained once and she already spoke spanish, so it was interesting being with a brand new sister and having her look at me every minute to know what they were saying to her ha. It totally reminded me of my first few months in La Legua. Thursday was also a challenging day and we didn´t have much success entering into people´s houses. 

Friday:  In the morning we went to help hermana Borg get lunch ready for the multizona that day, so that was fun! That night we had a noche misional and we were going to show a video but it didn´t work, so that was kind of a bummer. Hermana Belt was pretty stressed out which made me stressed out, but we ended up having a guest speaker come and he talked about family history. It ended up turning out just fine.

Saturday: Hermana Belt and I have thought a lot this week about the worth of souls. This week I personally have really learned a lot about how much a soul is really worth, and this scripture in Alma describes it for me:

   30 And we have suffered all manner of afflictions, and all this, that perhaps we might be the
 means of saving some soul; and we supposed that our joy would be full if perhaps we could be  
the means of saving some.

The mission presents some difficult trials, but it´s all so that maybe, just maybe, we can be the means of saving one soul. Hermano Juan was baptized and confirmed a member of the church on Saturday night. He gave a beautiful testimony at the end that made me realize the importance of the work we do. He said he feels like he´s found God again, and he´s put his life in His hands. It was a tender mercy after a long and stressful week to see hermano Juan enter into the waters of baptism. 

Sunday: Last night right as we were going into a stake meeting we got a call from the assistants and they told us we had to change rooms with the other sisters in our ward because we were going to receive a third sister. Woo!! So last night the zone leaders came and helped us move, and we didn´t get to bed until late. This morning we picked up our new companion, Hermana Alvarez from Piura! (north part of Peru). She already has 10 months in the mission and will stay with Hermana Belt when I leave until transfers. 

    Well there you have it. It was a challenging week, but in spite of everything we saw miracles and I feel my testimony strengthened more than ever. I love you all so much and appreciate your letters! I´m going to make the most of my time here as a representative of Christ while I can. Love you guys! Chaufa!!!

Love, Hermana Anderson

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Recuperating the Faith

     Saludos a todos! Well, each week has its ups and downs and this week sure had some big ups and downs. The week started out good with mission counsil. That´s where all the zone leaders, sister training leaders, assistants and President and Hna Borg get together to talk about the zones and the goals we have. It was a great meeting as always and helped us realize that we need to focus on baptisms as much as on the less actives. Something great happened too! We got a new assistant and we are, finally, changing our key indicators to be just as they are in Preach my gospel. Before we had lessons in calle (street), lessons in the house of a member vs. with a member... it was so complicated before and in every intercambio I´ve had with the new missionaries we´ve had to work a lot to explain them.. but now we´re doing away with the ¨vain traditions of our fathers¨ and going traditional. It will be great for the mission! It´s already helped us to focus more on what´s most important.
     This past week I went on an intercambio to Maranga, and I think it was the 6th or 7th time I´ve been there on some kind of intercambio. All the members recognize me which is pretty funny, it´s almost like another sector that I´ve had. But it´s a great sector! I was with an hermana from Ecuador named Hna. Zumba and she´s super funny and energetic. Hermana Belt stayed here in Escardo with hna Almodovar from Mexico. They were able to put a date with Juan for this Saturday el 16 de Agosto! He accepted the principle of diezmo which in itself is a huge blessing with all the medical expenses they have with Eliane. But he realizes the blessings he will receive and has so much faith! They are such a great family and I know some day the rest of his family will follow him into the church.
     So yesterday in church we were sitting in ward counsil when the bishop announced something that just kind of threw Hermana Belt and I for a loop. Apparently this last week in a young men´s activity a cell phone went missing and they found that a young joven named Gabriel had stolen it. Gabriel is one of our investigators, he is only 15, and he had been making such wonderful growth in his conversion! Or so we thought. We´ve been working with Gabriel since we arrived here, and he´s always had trouble with reading in the book of mormon and praying, but he´s come almost every week to church! He had made friends with the young men and was involved in all the activities, he even came early to the activity on independence day to help with the decorations. It was really hard to hear that he had fallen like that. The young men´s president was really sad too, because he had grown to really love Gabriel as well. Hermana Belt and I left just feeling shocked because we had no idea. I spoke in sacrament meeting about the missionary work and the members and how they can help, and lots of people came up to me after and told me it had really animated them to share the gospel, so we´ll see! Our ward needs a little boost. But all day long we were thinking about Gabriel. Last night we stopped by to see him, and he didn´t tell us what had happened, but he opened up more than ever and told us, 
I´m not one to believe in God. I´ve just never had good luck. My dad is a person who believes in God, he´s a good person... why don´t good things come to him? Why do the bad people win?
It was so hard for me to see such a young kid with only 15 years have to grow up so fast and feel so lost. I prayed for the words to tell him and testified with the spirit that I KNOW that God lives and loves us so much, and that those bad people will get their reward someday. I told him that sometimes we need faith to carry us through. He told me, I´m trying to recuperate the faith hermana. 
  After talking to him and walking down the street, I just felt heartbroken. I had grown to honestly care about Gabriel and I had seen that he was progressing! I started asking if I had done everything I could have. I was reminded of the Lord in Jacob 5, What more could I have done for my vineyard? I think I felt the tiniest sliver of the pain that our Heavenly Father feels everytime one of his children shakes his fists at heaven in anger or sadness, or is disobedient and breaks a commandment. God loves us all SO much! I can´t explain why bad things happen, but I know one day we´ll understand and we´ll see that they weren´t stumbling blocks as much as stepping stones. We just need to trust in Him and His love for us.
     Each week has its ups and downs but all in all we saw blessings and saw the spirit guiding us. We were in the right place at the right time several times, running into people in the street that needed our help. I´m so grateful to know that the Lord is using me as an instrument in His hands.
     I love you all so much! Thanks for writing. Give Brynn a big hug for me this week!! Have a fantastic week!

Love, Hermana Anderson 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Time is short

     Helloo!! I wrote my title line not because I am ¨trunky,¨ but because I literally have ten minutes to write today! Our P day went a little longer than we thought...

Here are the highlights for the week:

   On Tuesday was my last transfer meeting of my mission. I am staying here in Escardo with Hermana Belt! Hermana Aguero had cambio which was sad, but the new hermana is way nice. This was the transfer meeting where I gave my testimony in front of the whole mission. I was feeling nervous and all, but then when we all got up on the stage and sat down, and I saw Hermana Madsen get up to bear her testimony, it just hit me. I started with Hermana Madsen in the MTC, so to see her get up to bear her last testimony really made me realize that this is it! This is my last transfer as a servant of the Lord! I, who usually don´t get all emotional, started crying when nobody else was crying! When I got up to bear my testimony I will still kind of emotional, but I bore my humble testimony that this is the true church. I know that Joseph smith was a prohpet of God and that the Book of Mormon is true. I have seen countless times in my mission that if the blessings don´t seem to be coming, they are just right around the corner and we need to have faith in a bright future. I have learned that the family is the most important thing, and that I have the most wonderful family. I bore a simple but sincere testimony and as I listened to the other testimonies of my friends who have served along side me for almost a year and a half, I felt a calm and peaceful spirit. It was a great spiritual booster to be able to give my all this transfer.

     Celso has kind of gone A wall for the last 2 weeks... we have no idea where he went to! Hermano Juan didn´t come to church for the first time in 2 months yesterday so we´re worried about him and Eliane. We haven´t been able to find them yet. We had a miracle this week when we met up with the elders and they passed to us and investigator they had who lives in our sector. His name is Jesus, and he is the only person in his family who is not a member. He told us he finally just felt like it is his time, and his family is thrilled that he is taking that step. We are going tomorrow to verify if he will be in town on the 16th to have his baptism. It was a blessing to be able to teach him!

     Last night we had a charla with Elder Uceda, who is the President of the area of northern South america. It was for all the young people in our whole mission, and it was awesome cause I got to see friends from my previous wards! I saw Angel who was baptized in February, and I got so excited to see him that I was kind of bouncing up and down haha. It was just so great to see him active and happy in the church. I also saw Natalia and Mauricio, two of my good friends from Miraflores. It made me so happy to see my good friends, but it also made me realize how hard it´s going to be to say goodbye to them all. BUT I´m not thinking about that yet...

    Well, sorry there´s not much time! I love you all! Please tell grandma Jean thank you for writing and I loved her letter. I will write her back next week. Thank you so much!! Chau!

Con amor, Hermana Anderson

Thursday, July 31, 2014

"Those who do not learn from the past..."

     Buenos dias a todos! Another weeks has passed by so fast it´s just crazy. Things are going well here and Hermana Belt and I are loving our area. Lots of good things have happened this week! For ejemplo we put a baptismal date with Hno. Juan Vicuña for August 17th at last! He´s so ready, he comes to church every week and we can see him progressing. Funny story is that we were at his house yesterday and when I opened up my backpack to pull out my scriptures I saw that I had accidentally put a remote control in my backpack... We had put on a video with the family that we had just come from and I didn´t realized it and put the remote in my backpack! Hna. Belt and I started cracking up and then we explained to Juan that we needed to run something back... so we went running through the streets of Lima to take back an accidentally stolen remote control. Haha good times!
     This week I feel like had so much to do with the past. We went this week to visit a joven in the ward who is leaving on his mission to Argentina soon, and we talked to his dad who is not a member. Hna. Belt invited him to come to the church on Sunday and he started explaining the last ten years of his life to us, and all the experiences he´s had with members of the church. Basically he told us that he couldn´t forgive people for what they had done in the past. We gave him the talk by Elder Holland that´s called ¨Remember Lot´s Wife,¨ but we haven´t gone back yet to see how he liked it. We should LEARN from the past, but not LIVE in the past. Elder Holland talks about how we need to let those old mistakes go, our mistakes as much as others´ mistakes. 
     In the mission now we have the privilege of using the internet for one hour to get on to do the family history work. And we had the coolest experiences this past week! First of all we found in both our family lines kings from Germany, France, England, and Denmark! And I found out some of our family on mom´s side comes from Ireland! I had no idea... I read some stories from Ireland and Scotland that they shared and it was way cool. Then I found that our ancestors are all the kings of Judah, like king David! We traced our family all the way back to Adam and Eve! It was crazy! We were kind of yelling in the internet cafe cause we got so excited ha. It would be great if you could get on familysearch and look at our family tree and read some of the stories, cause they´re awesome! 
     Today is Independence day for Peru so we´ve got a P day even though tomorrow is the reunion of cambios (spanglish I know). We´ve got a ward activity in the church so we´re running over there after writing here. We went there this morning a little to help set up and one of our investigators, Gabriel, was there to help. Then we saw his family walk by on our way here so we´re excited to see if they´re in the capilla! 
     Welp I think that´s about it for this week. Missionary work is exciting and I´m try to make the most of what I´ve got here in Peru. Everyday an adventure! I love you guys! Have a great week!
Love, Hermana Anderson


Monday, July 21, 2014

Ordinary Miracles

     Saludos a todos! Hola familia, thanks for all your letters this week. We´ve had a great week! To sum it all up, I´m happy and healthy and learning lots. I am grateful for all the little lessons that I learn each week. We´ve had some pretty crazy experiences this week, as well as little ordinary miracles.
     This week we finally got a ward directory! Whoo! Our baby ward is growing up. This week as we went to visit the members we had some pretty cool experiences. For example, when we visited the hermana Julia Flores she thanked us for coming and almost started crying when she said that missionaries had never come to visit her in her new home before. Another hermana, Lucy, also thanked us for coming and said that she was going through a tough time with her teenage sons and health problems. She felt alone and scared and had prayed to heavenly father for help, and then we showed up at her home. Another menos activo, Francisco, told us that in the week he had felt overwhelmed with all the work he had to do, but then our voices came to his mind with words of comfort. This week Hermana Belt and I have really left like we´ve been instruments in the Lord´s hands-- not only for investigators, but for members and menos activos who have needed a hand and just a plain old hug. That might sound silly, but really this week we´ve just seen a ton how God has been directing us to strengthen his children and comfort them in times of trial. We heard several times people calling us angels, and it´s very humbling knowing that God is working through us.

     This week, yesterday actually in church, we put a baptismal date with Celso!! When we invited him (in english) he got all flustered and was like, don´t look at me! Are you really asking me? But he accepted the date for the 16 of August. We´re excited for him! 

     I know every week I talk about the familia Vicuña, but this week I learned yet another amazing lesson from Eliane. When we went to visit them the other day Eliane was in the middle of her physical therapy.  Her physical therapist was helping her do exercises with an exercise ball, and it looked pretty rough for Eliane. Her mom was sitting on the floor next to her. At first the exercises were light and she didn´t need much energy, but as the exercises progressed Eliane started to cry out in pain. She looked up at her mom sitting at her side as if she were saying, ¨Mom, why aren´t you helping me? Can´t you see I´m hurting? Why don´t you do something?¨ But her mom would just tell her, ¨Breathe. Be strong, I´m right by your side.¨ It was really powerful because we were all silent, the only sounds were Eliane crying and her trainer telling her to stretch farther. At one point Eliane´s mom had to leave her side, to let Eliane focus and be by her self. Eliane kept going, taking a pause every now and then to wipe her mouth with a towel. I likeded it to our relationship with our Heavenly Father. Sometimes when we´re hurting, going through a hard trial, we look up at our Father and ask, ¨Can´t you see I´m hurting? Do you not care? Why aren´t you helping me?¨ But our Heavenly Father knows that in our trials we grow strong, we grow our spiritual muscles, and we can´t grow to become strong like him without them. Hermana Belt and I just felt like crying several times cause it was so hard watching that little girl struggle like  that, and I´m sure it´s hard for our heavenly father too. But he knows it´s for our good. 

     Next week I might not write til Tuesday cause Monday is Peru´s day of independence and the internet might not be open. And plus on Tuesday we have cambios! I can´t believe how fast this cambio has flown by. Next week I´ll be giving my testimony in front of the whole mission, bearing testimony of the things I´ve learned in my mission. I can´t believe this time has already come. But hang in tight next week and I´ll write on either Monday or Tuesday.
     I love you guys! Hope you have a great week! Chau!

Love, Hermana Anderson

Elaine (14 years old)

With Healing in His Wings

     Good morning from Lima Peru! I hope you´ve all had a great week this week. Thanks for your emails-- I love hearing about your experiences. Things are going well here in Escardo! 
     This whole week has seemed to have the same common theme: the power of the Lord to heal. Hermana Belt and I have had quite a few experiences this week with people that told us stories of healing, physical as well as spiritual. We met a man named Eduardo who works as a security guard in an apartment building. Eduardo told us that he had had an accident and was blind for a year before he realized that he needed God to help him restore his sight. He said, I started to go to church again and I started to pray. My sight was returned to me without the help of any doctor. When Hna Belt and I left after talking to Eduardo that night, I started thinking to myself, What does it really mean to be healed? Just to be fixed and made better? What does someone need to do to be completely healed?
     I started reading in the scriptures and in my trusty Jesus the Christ to help me out with my questions. I read about the miracles of healing that Christ performed throughout his mortal ministry. One of my favorite stories is in John 5 when he heals the crippled man at the pool of Bethsheda (sp?). Christ asked the man, ¨wilst thou be clean?,¨ perhaps reminding the man of his long forgotten hopes of being healed. Christ tells him to ¨rise, take up (his) bed, and walk.¨ The man is immediately healed and goes to the temple to offer his love and gratitude. Christ meets him there and then tells him, ¨Behold, thou art made whole.¨ The man had been healed physically of his malady, but it wasn´t until he had gone to the temple to give thanks that he had been made ¨whole,¨ or spiritually healed. Being healed doesn´t mean being put back together again. Being healed means that we are made ¨whole,¨ we are complete. The maladay, whether it be physical or spiritual, is cleaned away as if it had never happened. We are made better than we ever were before.
     Another story of healing that I love is the woman who touches Christ´s robes in the throng of people, believing that if she can only just touch his clothes, she could be healed. Christ stops and asks who has touched him, for he perceived that ¨virtue had gone out of (him).¨ Talmage explains that this virtue is literal power, that when the woman touched the robes of Christ ¨there was an actual giving of His own strength.¨ Faith is a principle of power, the Lord is and was influenced and in great measure controlled, for he ministers according to the law. I was a little shockdto learn that faith gives us so much power, but it´s true! Faith is a divine law, and if we have sufficient faith that Lord is bound by our obedience and faith to bless us. I don´t want to make it sound like we control the blessings that come from the Lord or that we can tell him when we have enough faith. What this means is that we have to give everything to Him, sacrifice every drop of doubt we might have and ask not, ¨can Christ heal me?¨ but rather ¨Will Christ heal me?¨ In Mark ¨6:5 we read that Christ ¨could there do no mighty work.¨ Every blessing that we receive is first based on our personal faith and obedience.
     In all of my reading of healing I read words like ¨fully restored,¨ ¨restored whole,¨.  Just like in the story of the woman who touches Christ´s robes, we can be made ¨whole of (our) plague.¨ We can receive personal strenth from the Lord Jesus Christ and from his perfect love. His atonement and love are our ¨balm of Gilead,¨ and we can be made whole again, the slate wiped clean as if we were never stricken with our enfermity.
     Confidence is a stepping stone to belief, which in turn is a stepping stone to faith (Jesus el Cristo 321). In Doctrine & Covenants we learn that our confidence will wax strong if we are clean and virtuous before the Lord, so in order to have that sufficient faith we need to first do the little things: read the scriptures, say our prayers, and go to church. Then will our confidence wax strong which will lead us to sufficient faith.
     Last night we went with one of the counselors in the bishopric and his wife to give Eliane a blessing of health. For me it was another manifestation of the power of priesthood. The priesthood is real. It is a power that is also bound by the personal worithiness, diligence, and faith of the person giving the blessing as well as those present. I know that in the Lord´s time Eliane will be healed. In the meantime the Lord is helping her family to be healed spiritually, giving them his own personal strength and love.
     I love you all so much! It´s a little scary sometimes thinking about all the new things coming up-- all the changes and everything happening around me--bt I know I´ve got the love and support of you all :) Thanks for everything! Hope you have a great week. Peace!
Love, Hermana Anderson