Monday, October 26, 2015

Robbed, Sick, Grateful

Goiania and I
 Quinto-feira (Thursday) we were walking back from teaching Simone in Vitoria. It was 8:30 p.m., about an hour past dark, and we were walking down a dark road next to a forest. This was all normal; we do it 2 or 3 times a week. Then, two guys rode by us on bikes. I was looking at their bikes to see if they were cool when they swerved around in front of us, jumped off, and started yelling “Cellular, Cellular!” They had bandanas over their faces so I couldn’t really tell what they looked like, but I think they were about 16 or 17. A weird, instinctive pulse of adrenaline went through me and sent the signal to my brain that we were being robbed. Rather than ‘fight’ or ‘flight’, the instinct made me stay still and calm—which was nice, since if you’re being robbed, it’s a lot better if you’re chill throughout the assault. I learned that one from experience haha. Anyway Elder Gerson handed over our phone, and they patted us down to check for any kind of wallet. Generally we keep our money in our missionary manual, which is the same size and shape as a wallet. They found Elder Gerson’s and he gave them all two of his reais (50 American cents), but didn’t find mine because—thanks to the caring hand of Heavenly Father—it had looked like it was going to rain earlier, so I put my manual in my bag. Thankfully, they weren’t interested in our bags. All of my 14 reais were safe haha. They quickly left, and really, I think the whole time they were more scared than we were. We don’t know if they were armed—they pretended to be—but I’m pretty sure they didn’t have a gun or even a knife with them. Since we’re not supposed to resist thieves, as missionaries, the thought to try and knock them out quick and get our phone back never crossed my mind. Yet, if I was just a normal person walking with a friend, I might have tried haha. Anyway, they’ll wonder why someone’s calling them to ask how many lessons they taught during the day while they’re sharing their pack of cheap crackers. We should get our new phone tomorrow.

As if this week couldn’t have been more eventful after that, Elder Gerson and I ate something ruim (terrible) on Friday and about died (not really, but it almost felt like it) Saturday. We’re 99% sure it was a pouch of ready-to-eat beans I bought at a nearby store. I felt weird when I woke up Saturday morning and made it to our first lesson okay, but when we returned to the house at 10 for personal study, Elder Gerson and I both started feeling horrible. (Another thing I keep forgetting to write about—our schedule was changed so instead of studying from 8-11 in the morning like most missions, we do personal study from 10-11 and companion and language study from 2-4.) For that hour of study we took turns in the bathroom and slumped on top of our desks. We ate lunch at the Bishop’s house, I could only get down one forkful of rice, while E. Gerson ate a normal amount but threw every bit of it up later. WE spent the afternoon dying or sleeping (it was hard to tell which…), went to the hospital and got IVs, and that evening felt a little better and slept hard that night. Yesterday we felt about 50% better and went to stake conference just fine (which was awesome! Presidente Kuceki—my mission president—and Elder Carboni of the Seventy spoke). I’m not exactly sure how Elder Gerson’s doing but I’m 90% better today.

Clearly, this week was a week of trials. It was funny; the night before we got sick, I thought ‘It’s finally starting to get a little easier.’ Oh man…hahahah. Yet, I’m grateful for this week because it has made me so much more that—grateful.

No matter how hard our days or our lives are, we can always find ways to be grateful—and we should. Think of Job. I think he had probably the hardest life ever, second only to Christ (because Christ felt all the pain and suffering that has occurred, is occurring, and will ever occur). After losing his entire family, possessions, friends, and health, Job still worshipped and praised the Lord, being grateful to God and for His plan for him. What an amazing example! May we always be grateful for our lives, for they will likely never be as hard as Job’s and definitely never as hard as Christ’s.

Here’s a few of the many, many things that I’m more grateful for after this trying week:

-Every second I’m not being robbed or feeling horribly sick.
-That I live in a country where at least there is medical care exceeding primitive level.
-That my bag wasn’t stolen. Not just because my scriptures and Portuguese dictionary were in there, but mainly because my family picture book was. If they would have taken that, they probably would have been in the hospital along with me, except, while I was hooked up to an IV, they’d have been barely making it in the ICU. Don’t take my family pictures, haha. (But really not haha…)
-That this sickness is over! Oh man, I’m so grateful to be able to move and breathe and act normally now!
-Food that doesn’t try to kill you.
-The Gospel of Jesus Christ! Nothing is greater!

Although all this stuff happened this week, lots of good is happening too! We’re teaching good people, trying to find others, and seeing the hand of the Lord in our lives! I continue to grow stronger and stronger in my faith in Christ, in my humility, and in my gratitude, and I am experiencing the joy, purification, and sanctification that results from coming unto Christ (see Helaman 3:35). This work is miraculous! Thanks for all of your love, prayers, and support from the states!

Elder Anderson

(Helaman 3:35  "Nevertheless, they did fast and pray oft, and did wax stronger and stronger in their humility, and firmer and firmer in the faith of Christ, unto the filling their souls with joy and consolation, yea, even to the purifying and the sanctification of their hearts, which sanctification cometh because of their yielding their hearts unto God.)

Almoco (lunch) at a restaurant
Food at the restaurant

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

A Sure Answer

Opaaa! Tudo bem!?

Several times, in my life, I’ve thought about the question ‘What is the hardest thing I’ve ever done?’ Usually, memories like getting an A in my online calculus class and running 20 miles one morning came to mind. Yet no real answer ever arose. Up until now, the answer to this question has been an obscure thing, but now it’s clear as day—this mission!

Undoubtedly the last few months have been the hardest part of my life. That being said, it’s also been the greatest! By the end of each week, I’m so entirely mentally and physically drained, tired of struggling to communicate and walking “ate opo”! Yet, I’m ever grateful for this opportunity to serve the Lord full-time—what type of life could be greater!?

I had a funny and encouraging experience Saturday night haha. I was writing in my journal about the day and having the hardest time. Not because I was tired or the day was crazy, but because I was trying to write in English! I switched to Portuguese for the last half, and it was way easier haha. I’m starting to believe I’ll lose English almost completely! I’m still far from fluent, yet after days and weeks and months of only Portuguese, my brain is quickly transitioning. As I write this right now, I’m having some difficulty making sure all these words and clauses sound right! Louco!

We have one investigator who should be baptized in the coming weeks, Simone. A month or so ago we knocked on her door and started teaching her. She came to church with us the first Sunday and liked it a lot. She was supposed to come this Sunday also—she said she would definitely come and stay all three hours—but when the ward mission leader went to pick her up, either no one was home or everyone was asleep. I think the daylight savings change messed everyone up, because only 1 investigator made it to church. Before she gets baptized, Simone will have to stop smoking and drinking coffee, but we’re working with her, and she’s progressing. We had a powerful lesson with her a few days ago in which I testified to her that by reading The Book of Mormon she will have the power to conquer the addiction of smoking. It was awesome! If she follows that counsel, quitting after 35+ years, will be easy, for with the Lord’s help, all things are possible! Hopefully she’ll be baptized soon, along with several other people we are teaching.

I remember a year or two ago we had the sister missionaries over for dinner, and I asked them what was the hardest part of a mission. I was shocked when the answer wasn’t anything like walking up at 6:30 every day, mission family for two years, or working all day every day. One of them said that the hardest part was having the greatest message of the world—that of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and the eternal blessings that come from it—inviting people to accept this marvelous truth, and then seeing them disregard and reject it. THIS IS SO TRUE! Of all the hard, touch, difficult, draining things here, nothing is worse then trying to show sons and daughters of God this perfect gospel and having them be too dense and hard-hearted to humble themselves before God and willingly accept it. Nothing.

I pray we will never be too prideful to hear, study, and accept truth from our Father in Heaven, no matter in which form it comes. To all my family and friends in the greatest country on Earth—which I miss so much—enjoy every second of the liberties and standards of living that glorious America offers. I love Brazil, but man, I miss America. Keep emailing me and letting me know how things are going above the equator! Thanks for your amor e apoio!


Elder Anderson

​Representing my school well internationally!
Don't mess with ventiladores! (fans)

Monday, October 12, 2015

Ether 12:27

Ether 12:27

Oi America!

My week has been a great example of the principles taught in one of the best verses in the Book of Mormon—Ether 12:27.

“And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness…”

Oh man, I have felt so weak the past few days. I want so badly to meet the goals of the mission, teach convincingly, obey exactly, and have a thorough plan in place to accomplish everything I need to. Yet, my lack of Portuguese, lack of experience, inability to communicate effectively with my companion and leaders, and other personal weaknesses limit me.

“I give unto men weakness that they may be humble…”

I’ve been stressed, discouraged, tired, frustrated, and lonely—definitely humbled in every way. It’s been so hard, but I know that I’ll make it through this time of personal trial, for:

“…my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me;…”

Humility is a Christlike attribute that we must develop in order to improve ourselves. Growing is a brutal process, but through the grace of our Savior Jesus Christ we will be lifted from our state of despair of human weakness. Though a couple time this week I’ve been heavily discouraged, each time I was blessed with a comforting peace—once immediately after I asked for it in prayer, and once through the calming whispering of the Spirit that said “The Lord Knows” regarding my situation. How grateful I am for His help!

“For if they humble themselves before me and have faith in me, than will I make weak things become strong unto them.”

Not only will the Lord aid us through our trials, but He will strengthen us as we persevere faithfully. A mission is a refining fire. I’m in the part of the process right now where I’m really burning haha. But, I know as I continue to work with all my heart, might, mind, and strength, I will emerge stronger, by the grace of the Savior that I have become worthy of through my actions. I hope everyone will experience this trying yet necessary process to become more like Christ. Man, it’s tough, but I can see the “light at the end of the tunnel” which is the grace of God.

Now that my weekly sermon is finished haha, I’ll talk about this week.

My new companion is Elder Gerson. He’s from Rio de Janeiro and doesn’t speak English. It’s hard to talk with him sometimes, but by the end of the transfer, my Portuguese will be excellent! I’m SO grateful that he is a hard worker and obedient. I haven’t even had him for a week yet, and it’s been the most effective part of my mission already!

We met a great investigator this week named Leonardo. He’s the neighbor of a member family who suggested we visit him. Our first lesson with him went well; he was really receptive and interested. When we returned the next evening, he said he had stayed up til 2:30 in the morning reading the Book of Mormon! He read 3 Nephi 11, the part we told him to read, and then all of the introduction parts. So awesome! We answered the questions he had and watched “The Restoration” with him. He liked the message of asking God directly, and not man, for religious answers. We’re going to visit him again tonight, and hopefully he’ll have a lot more questions for us to answer for him!

It was a tough, but definitely a good week, and I’m so grateful that I was called here to serve as a missionary of the Lord Jesus Christ. This work is the best! I hope all is well in the States; I pray for you guys often! Keep emailing me and keeping me up to date on the civilized world haha. Thanks for all your love and support! Obrigado por seu amor e apoio!

Elder Anderson
​Joaquim, the uncle of Walter and a great member of the ward

​And the house he's building

​My second trainer, Elder Gerson

​It may be the inside back cover of a Portguese grammar book and the Brazilian version of coco puffs, but it was all I had to wish Elder Gerson a happy 23rd!

Lunch at O Bispo's house Tuesday, muito bom!

​Making some herbal chá! 

Almoco with the Bishop's family

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Portuguese, Baptism, Conference, and the End of Transfer One

​Learning how to make bruschetta early in life was a blessing!

​Zone P-Day! Fun day

​Elder Morris, one of my American friends in the zone

Opaaaaa! Another week has flown by!

Man, I am so grateful for how much Heavenly Father has blessed me with the gift of tongues thus far! I believe it’s a direct result of how hard I worked to learn the language during my time in the CTM. This week, a few things happened that made me really happy with my Portuguese. First, last Monday or so I called the Zone leaders to ask about some teaching records. After talking with Elder Sweet over the phone for a few minutes, he was surprised at how well I was speaking and said I was learning Portuguese faster than any other American he knew. Woohoo! Haha, it was great. Also, we were talking with an old guy on the street a few days ago who could hardly believe I’ve only been here for about two and a half months. Then, at conference Saturday, I met a returned missionary who said my Portuguese was perfect. I had only said a few words to him and his statement was far, far from the truth, but I felt pretty great afterward haha! I testify that when we work with all diligence in the service of the Lord, He will bless us greatly. This gospel is so awesome!

We had a baptism this week! Walter, whom I wrote about last week, was baptized yesterday in between sessions of general conference. Unfortunately, we couldn’t be there because Elder Meireles was sick and we were stuck at the hospital for 3 and a half hours. (Be so, so grateful every time you step into a hospital in America. Oh man, the difference between here and there is SO big). It almost seems like Walter wasn’t even baptized because we weren’t there and haven’t seen any pictures haha. Yet, all is well, and another of Heavenly Father’s children has taken a huge step closer to Him!

General Conference, or at least the part of that I saw (because Saturday we were way late to the first session and Sunday we were at the hospital) was good. It was all translated into Portuguese, so I only understood like 25% of it, but I still learned a lot. I’m excited to download all the talks and listen to them in English haha. Also, how crazy is it to have three new apostles? So awesome, I can’t wait to learn more about them.

While at the hospital yesterday, we got a call about transfers. This transfer finishes Wednesday morning, and Elder Meireles is going to another area in Goiania, while I’m staying here and getting another Brazilian companion. I’m excited for some change and a new six weeks!

To all of you reading this at home, missionary work is the greatest! I’m happier than I’ve ever been, and I’m working as hard as I can to fulfill my calling as a servant of the Lord. I miss home, but not too much; I’m focused on my efforts here! I love you all! Continue to learn and grow in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Ate  mais!

Elder Anderson