Friday, August 23, 2013

Hey guys,
So this week marked 6 months... It is pretty hard for me to believe that things have moved along this quickly. It seems like the last thing I remembered was Zach and Berrett and Scotty and Mike going back to BYU for winter semester. That semester has come and gone, and the new year is about to start. That is pretty crazy. I'm sure a ton more will happen in the next little bit and it'll still be just as hard to believe how fast the time goes. This was a better week. I took the advice of one of the sisters from my MTC district and 'pulled my pants up to my armpits and got to work'. We have really been pushing lately in our area. And we are seeing the fruits of our labors beginning to blossom. This week we found an inactive family (just a father and daughter) who lives in our area. The daughter is not baptized, and the father stopped coming to church because his wife was diagnosed with HIV and the members of the ward basically shunned them. He told us that that was a hard time. He and his daughter had to get a series of tests (both of them tested negative), and on top of the stress of the diagnosis and the testing, the bishop told them that none of them could use the drinking fountains or the bathrooms (even just to wash their hands). As they fell (or were pushed) away from the church, his wife ended up leaving him for another man and took one of the daughters with her. We taught the plan of salvation and how our earthly experiences fit into the plan that our Heavenly Father has for us, and we committed his other daughter to be baptized next month. They are going to come to church for the first time in 8 years on Sunday. We also started teaching a man who we had found in the street a few weeks ago. I learned an important lesson about forgiveness from this situation. When we found him on the street, he started to 'bash' a little bit using his knowledge of the Bible. We decided to do the wrong thing (we were a bit frustrated after days without success, but that is still no excuse...) and respond with our knowledge of the scriptures. We got to the point where he saw that we were 'right' and just gave us his address as a sign of giving up. We tried to contact the reference a few times, but we couldn't seem to find the house. I wrote on our list of references to remove him from the still-active list, but in the moment I felt that we hadn't tried hard enough. I learned that that was a prompting from the Spirit when we went to try again. We found him in the street near his house. He showed us where the house is, and told us he had a few minutes to talk to us in the street. So we taught a very simple version of the Restoration, and he was quite receptive. He told us that he doesn't feel very good in his church, and asked us how he would be able to know that our message is true. Perfect question. We answered that and a few other questions and scheduled a return appointment. In the return appointment, we committed him to be baptized. Now we are focusing on finding more people to teach. We printed 300 invitations to an activity in the ward tomorrow at 6. Yesterday we passed out the last of them. Today we printed another 100 to pass out tonight. We are going to watch a movie about the life of Christ and play games. We are hoping and praying for a big turnout. We have invited pretty much all of the members, active, less-active, and inactive and we told them to invite all of their friends. So hopes are high. We finally have representatives from a few organizations in the ward attending our correlation meetings, and we are starting to make plans to work with the ward a little more closely. Anyway, that is the news here in Los Lencas. I don't have a thought put together for this week, so I am just going to invite you to watch Elder Hollands talk 'the first and great commandment'. We have a version that he gave years ago in the MTC, which is basically the same thing just WAY MORE INTENSE. Maybe I'll put it on a flash drive and send it home. It will change the way you think about a lot of things. He invites the missionaries in the MTC to really think about the question that Jesus asks Peter: 'Lovest thou me?' Do we really love Him? How do we show it? Do we feed his sheep? Or do we simply 'go back to fishing'? I love Him. And I love you guys. That is a big part of why I am here. I hope you all have a great week, and that you reflect on those questions.

Elder Andreasen

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Whew. So today was supposed to be P-day. But Elder Albrechtsen and I spent the better part of the day (8am-4pm) at the airport trying to pick up a package for President Glazier. All I really want to say about that is that it was an incredible waste of time and that nobody there had any idea what was going on. But we got the package. But also, I now don't have too much time to write. This week was pretty tough. In fact, it was really tough. My faith has been tried, and I have found out by sad experience that it was lacking. Elder Muñoz and I came home from a day that was completely filled with fallen appointments and absolutely no success. Our investigators, who were few, stopped progressing, and some of them didn't seem to want to let us in. We even decided to drop some of them. Anyway, that night we got home and we were just frustrated. I don't think I have ever felt so discouraged in my life. Elder Albrechtsen chewed us out for having bad attitudes, and that escalated into an argument. We finally decided that we just needed to pray. By the end of that prayer, Elder Muñoz and I were crying. It was quite a humbling experience. Afterward, while we were in the middle of planning, Elder Muñoz asked to borrow my little pocket knife, took the picture of his girlfriend that he kept in his scriptures, and said something along the lines of, 'sorry honey, I'll have time to think about you later.', and he cut it to pieces. I smiled a bit when he did that. I feel like I haven't quite learned the lesson I am supposed to learn yet, but that definitely was a spiritually and emotionally intense night. This week while studying in the Book of Mormon, I read in Jacob 4:10, which says 'seek not to counsel the Lord, but to take counsel from his hand.' I feel like in my prayers and in my desires lately I have been trying to counsel the Lord into doing the things I want Him to do. So now I am going to start 'taking counsel from his hand.' Elder Bruce R. McConkie counseled that our prayers may be made more meaningful and effective, and we might learn and grow more if we change our 'why' questions into 'what' questions. In fact, he said that 'why' questions are actually expressions of resentment and lack of faith. So instead of asking WHY I am not having the success that I desire here in the mission, I might ask WHAT I am supposed to learn from all of this. This week I have been made aware of my spiritual weakness and immaturity. But weaknesses are given so that we will be humble. And I haven't been humble yet. But it is a process. I want to share my testimony again with you guys. It has been a while. So get your Google Translate ready. Yo sé que nosotros somos hijos de un Padre Celestial, y que él siempre está pendiente de nosotros. Él sabe nuestras necesidades. Él quiere ayudarnos con nuestras debilidades e incapacidades. Porque Él sabía que esta vida nos sería difícil, nos preparó la manera para que regresáramos a su presencia para vivir en felicidad eterna con nuestras familias. Envió a su hijo, Jesucristo, para compensar con nuestras faltas. Jesucristo se sacrificó para que acudiéramos a Él para recibir su gracia en nuestras imperfecciones, y nos dio el ejemplo perfecto. Yo sé que Él quiere socorrernos y darnos el poder limpiador de su Expiación, pero solo podemos recibirlo a través de convenios sagrados, tales como el bautismo de agua y del Espíritu. La autoridad para efectuar estas ordenanzas salvadoras está en la tierra, y podemos recibirlas para poner nuestras vidas de acuerdo con el plan que Dios tiene preparado para nosotros, pero este poder solo se encuentra en la iglesia restaurada de Jesucristo. Y esto es La Iglesia de Jesucristo de los Santos de los Últimos Días. Los amo muchísimo, y quiero que ustedes sepan que yo sé que Jesucristo vive. Espero que todos tengan una buena semana. See you in two.

Elder Andreasen

Family: Love you derms. I hope this week wasn't as crazy for you as it was for me. I hope you know that I am trying my best to do the Lord's work here. I don't always do as well as I could, but I am always trying. I am still struggling to feel like a missionary when I am pretty much an accountant most of the week. It's like trying to balance a part time job with being a full-time missionary. But I am growing and learning and being stretched by my experiences. I love you. And I'll see you derms in two.

Friday, August 9, 2013


Buenos Días a todos!! This week was a pretty good week. I have to start out by telling a funny story. We visited an old member couple this week to see if they knew anyone we could teach. The husband is about 75 and the wife is 81. They were sealed last week in the temple here, and they were really excited about that. The funny part is that the husband asked his wife to say the prayer, and in her prayer, she said, 'Padre, no queremos morir todavía...'. Basically, 'we don't want to die yet'. She is a sweet little old lady, but that caught me a little off-guard. But I guess she is really enjoying life, and she doesn't want to see it go just yet. That made me smile. So this week something awesome happened. President Glazier had asked me to separate the taxi expenses of office elders from the rest. We found that within an 11 day period, we spent $423 dollars on taxis. Now, that was with changes week and us going to and from the hospital, but I said to President Glazier, 'President, with this amount of money we could easily make a monthly payment on a car.' He thought for about a minute, then looked at me and said, 'I want you and Elder Albrechtsen to go get drivers' licenses this week. Call the assistants and have them take you.' We were so stoked. First, we had to go get a blood test. They need to know your blood type, but you can't just tell them. So we had to go to a clinic to get a signed, stamped little paper. But the clinic was SKETCHY. The building was just like a housing complex. When we asked for a blood test, they directed us to a hallway that had a picture of a microscope. There was a doorway that had, 'laboratorio medico' written above it in Sharpie. A guy in there was sitting at a desk, and he invited us in. We sat down, wrote our names, and he pulled syringes out of a drawer. He grabbed a cotton ball, dipped it in what I hope was alcohol (it was in a glass, Nestle chocolate milk powder jar), wrung the cotton swab out so that all the liquid went back into the jar, and then sat us down one at a time to draw blood. He wiped the area first, but then he touched it with his finger to feel the vein, and just went for it. There were no gloves to be seen in the whole place. He put the needle in my arm and pulled back on the plunger of the syringe. Nothing. So he just shoved it a half inch deeper and tried again. Success. We paid 4 bucks a piece and we were out of there. We were just really surprised that he got our blood types right and that we didn't have any signs of infection the next day. Anyway, we found out that Elder Albrechtsen's residency documents are still in process of being renewed, so he can't get one just yet. Me on the other hand.....AHORA TENGO UNA LICENCIA DE CONDUCIR!! I have an El Salvador driver's license. I had to go get a million documents to get it, and I had to wait over 3 hours in the equivalent of a DMV to get it, but now, I am able to legally drive here. When I left with my license, the assitant, Elder Earl, asked me 'do you feel comfortable driving?' He didn't need to ask twice. So I drove to Wendy's to eat something real quick (we hadn't eaten and the process took all day) and then I drove back to the office. The car the assistants have is a turbocharged Toyota Hilux. Pretty sweet. Drives just like the Tundra, only WAY EASIER. And my California driving skills have somewhat prepared me to drive here. Basically anything goes. Signals mean nothing. You want to turn or merge, you stick your arm out the window to show that you are going and you go. I felt super weird driving. The feeling of having not been behind the wheel in a while plus the excitement made me feel like I was running from the cops. Anyway, my 'dad', Elder Martin, left this week. He is home now. How crazy is that? Just goes to show how fast time goes. I have learned why being an office elder is hard. We spend the majority of the day in the office, where there is absolutely no spirtual responsibility. The other missionaries have spiritual responsibilities all day, every day. We have to be able to balance both acts, with the hard part being transitioning from one to the other. But I'm learning and maybe one day Ill have it down. So the family we are teaching is doing AWESOME. We taught the Plan of Salvation to them and it just clicked. We taught the father, his 17ish year old daughter, and two sons (10 and 15 years old). The daughter was asking all sorts of great questions, and it just made sense to her. Pray for them. They still have not accepted a baptismal invitation and have not come to church. There was a huge stormSunday night. Elder Muñoz and I were out walking when it started. Within 3 or 4 minutes, we had seen 5 transformers blow. No power in the whole city. A tree fell in the neighborhood in which this family lives, and so their power has still not been restored. But we passed by a few days ago, and the dad was reading the Book of Mormon by candlelight!! So we stopped and had a lesson in the dark, with just one little candle. Elder Muñoz and I shared some of our favorite parts of the Book of Mormon, and we sang a few hymns. It was really special. Other than that family we have been struggling a bit. We only have one other investigator, and he hasn't been progressing lately. Both of them can only meet with us once a week because of work, so we have a lot of time with not a lot to do. But we have made plans with the ward to change a few things (the ward is not at all active in missionary work) so that we will have more support from members and leaders of the ward. I think that pretty much sums up the week. I have been working on that project I told you about last week. It is much harder than I thought it would be. But I was studying the other day and I found a few scriptures that say that we are purified by our faith, or more specifically, the Lord purifies us through our faith. How can we have faith, or act according to our faith this week? What do we each need to do to increase or faith, so that we can be purified and have the constant help and guidance of the Holy Ghost? Just a few things to think about this week. I love you guys. Have a good one. See you in two!

Elder Andreasen

P.S. - One of the missionaries who left Wednesday was Elder Dolbin. He had this picture with all of his others. He knows the girl on the right, her name is Kylie or something like that. But on the right....KENZIE! Apparently they were roommates, Kenzie and Kylie. How small is the world these days!? (See pictures)

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Hey guys!
This was another crazy week. We had thought that our hospital woes would be over. Elder Cifuentes came home tuesday from the hospital, but yesterday, while we were in the office, he got way sick again, and he went back to the hospital. Thats 3 trips to the hospital in just less than two weeks, with each trip being several days long. He ended up having surgery again last night, and they put his drain back in (which they had taken out a few days earlier). I spent 2 days and slept 2 nights in the hospital in a row last week so that Elder Muñoz and Elder Albrechtsen could get some stuff done in the office. And it looks like we are going to have to keep rotating who stays with him and who gets to work until everything gets figured out. The doctor said that he is not going to be able to work normally for at least 2 weeks. So these next few weeks are going to be a mess as well. But, in the midst of all of this craziness, Elder Muñoz and I taught 2 lessons yesterday. Woohoo! One to a new family and one to a father of a family we had already been teaching. The rest of his family wasnt there, but he invited us in and wanted to chat a bit. He is a really great guy. He told us that he is a little bit hesitant (even afraid) to get baptized because he understands that baptism is a lifelong commitment, and he is afraid of failing along the way. He has a lot of trust in us, which is something that I think is pretty amazing about the mission. We have only visited this man 3 times, but he tells us about his worries as a husband and father, and about trying to do the right things for his family. It is odd that people just open up their lives to a couple of foreign young men. That was a nice way to get back into our work in the area. However, on top of the hospital stuff, I got a call from the financial secretary of the area, and he wanted to have an urgent meeting with me. He came into the office and explained to me that a few things have been done incorrectly in our financial office for some time, and a few things have not been done at all for a few months. These are things that I had never even heard of, so it looks like I am going to have to either call the financial secretary from the other mission to come explain some things or ask Elder Earl, one of the current assistants who was the financial secretary a while ago. Because of all of this, I have been on the phone or emailing administration every day to get some things sorted out. Anyway, between all of these stressful new things and the hospital trips and rotations, we have now worked 2 p-days in a row. I just barely sat down to write a few minutes ago, and I will most likely be back to work after I finish. Talk about LAME! But the weeks go by so fast here that before I know it, it'll be p-day again, and if we aren't working, I'll get to relax a bit (at least for a few hours...). We had an elder go home a few days ago. He was having some heart issues (even got to spend a few days with us while he had a monitor on - see picture), and after the results of that test came in, President decided to send him home. Kind of crazy how fast it all happened after the decision was made. I found something pretty cool this week. Elder Albrechtsen showed me a talk/letter type thing that talked about how we as missionaries can have the Spirit with us more strongly, guiding us in what we say and do in every moment of every day. It involves fasting and praying to know what things we do are impeding us from hearing and following the Spirit. Then, once you have a list of things you need to eliminate, you spend 40 days praying each day in the morning and in the night to ask for the help you need to stop doing those things and giving a report about how well you did during the day. You add things to the list as they come to your mind, and one by one you eliminate them, until at the end of 40 days, you have overcome each of them. Most of the time they are little things like getting angry at someone easily or thinking negatively about them. Within these 40 days, the goal is to remove each 'pavilion' that could be preventing you from receiving the personal revelation that you seek, and that you are entitled to. So this week I invite you to think and pray to find things that may be stumbling blocks for you. Little things. You don't have to do this 40 day thing, but I am going to. It will be interesting to see what little things we do that we don't even notice but that have an effect on us every day. But lets look for some pavilions to take down. I'm sure a lot of them won't even be that tough. But others will be. That's why we need to be willing to make sacrifices and depend on the Lord to help us with what we can't do alone. He gives us these weaknesses so that we will be humble and turn to Him for help. And when we do so, He makes those things strong unto us. I love you guys. Thanks for being so awesome. Thanks for your prayers and concerns. Mom, thanks for the package. You're the best mom. I'm sure everyone already know that though. Have a great week. Do something good.

Elder Andreasen

p.s. the pictures are of the Elder who went home, Elder Cifuentes, and some explanations I drew out for him while we were bored in the hospital.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Friday July 28th,

Whew. This week has just been absolute insanity. This week was changes week. Changes week is like armageddon for the office elders. It all started Monday morning. A truck came to our house to pick up a ton of stuff to take to some new areas that were opened this week, and to a few areas that now have trios. From there it was just all day, every day getting ready for changes. I had to get out money from the bank because at changes all of the missionaries want money for something or other. And I had to give a presentation to the new missionaries about how they are going to receive money and deal with financial issues for the next two years. I also had to make and sign contracts for new houses, get signatures from President Glazier, and ship them off to get signed by the homeowners. I had to make checks for the security deposits on those houses. I had to help the other Elders here with some of their responsibilities. But there was one thing that made this week more than difficult. Saturday night, before this all happened, Elder Cifuentes woke up in the middle of the night with abdominal pains and ended up going to the hospital. Turns out he had a kidney stone. A kidney stone the size of a jellybean. So they operated on him to remove that stone. So he was in the hospital all week, and one of us had to be with him the whole time. So we had to do all of the work with fewer missionaries. It was crazy. And we had changes in our areas (amongst the office elders). Elder Vaughan (my trainer as financial sec.) and Elder Rodriguez (Elder Albrechtsen's trainer as general sec.) both left, having only trained us 4 weeks instead of 6. So basically I am still learning how to do all of this stuff, just by myself. My new companion is Elder Muñoz. He is from Chile, and he is the migration/travel secretary. We had already lived in the same house for the last 4 weeks, so its not like he is a stranger to me or anything. He spent a lot of time in the hospital with Elder Cifuentes this week because he had less to do, at least until Wednesday night. Tuesday night the new missionaries all slept in our house. There were 19 elders...and it was crazy. They did not want to go to sleep. We, on the other hand, having worked like crazy in preparation for changes, did want to sleep. Then Wednesday night, the missionaries who are going home having finished their missions stayed the night in our house. They left a ton of stuff in our house because their bags weighed too much, and now we have a house with stuff all over that we have to clean. Being in the office during changes is also different because you know all of the changes beforehand. It really takes the stress out of being at changes meeting. I did get to slow down a little bit yesterday, because it was my turn to stay with Elder Cifuentes in the hospital. We studied a bit together, did some practices of teaching the resoration and extending the invitation to pray about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. That was a good opportunity, because we havent had time to study this whole week. We've been in the office from about 7:30-8 in the morning to 8ish at night. Elder Cifuentes came home from the hospital to the house last night with a drain still in (high drainage!!), but he woke up at 4 this morning hurting, and by about 6ish he needed help. So I called the doctor, who told me to go to a pharmacy to buy a certain type of pain killer. So Elder Muñoz and I suited up in normal clothes (not missionary clothes), loaded up in a taxi, and went to get that stuff. While we were out, he got worse, so we bought the stuff, went back, and took him straight to the hospital, all 4 of us still in normal clothes. I had called President and Hermana Glazier several times during all of this to keep them updated, and they arrived at the hospital about 45 minutes after we got there. We then arranged a way so that another missionary in the zone who is in a trio will be with him today and tommorow so that the rest of us can be in the office working. And yes, today is P-day, but we are working. How lame is that? We haven't had time to do anything else this week. Not even teach. We got in one lesson monday night. ONE LESSON IN THE WHOLE WEEK. It really is crazy. Elder Albrechtsen (the other new guy) and I have set goals to be better prepared for the next changes than our trainers were so that we can still have time to work in our areas. I have to say that I am more than a bit jealous that you guys are on a cruise, just having a great relaxing time. But reading your emails really helped me to slow down, so I guess I am enjoying a little bit of what you are experiencing. Mom, I definitely would have gotten in the water with you. You know I don't need a reason to do stuff like that. And if I were there I would have made Dad and Zach do it too. I even got Dad in the water in Antarctica! And if you are serious about going back in 2015, go ahead and book the trip. I would go in a second. But I guess we do have to figure out what I am going to be doing then... I still don't know if I am going to be coming home to go to school or not. I guess that will be a decision made between me and whoever the new mission president is at that point. Anyways, hopefully things will calm down around here in the office so that we can get back to teaching and working in our areas. Now I feel even more stressed about having time to work in the area because I am now senior companion. And District Leader. Stressful! We are supposed to have a district meeting tomorrow, but I don't even know if we'll be able to. We are so behind from Elder Cifuentes being in the hospital that we need to come in to the office tomorrow. So now P-day and weekends are being eaten up by this craziness. But that is just how it goes. Anyway, my thought for you this week is this: Why do we pray? I talked about this with Elder Cifuentes while I was there in the hospital with him. We invite people to pray all of the time as missionaries. Why? Most people have learned how to pray before we meet them. But people learn to do things differently, and that is just how it is for them. There is a lot of...confusion here about what prayer is. A lot of people think that to pray you have to speak really loudly (pretty much yelling) to pray. Others think you have to say certain things, that you have to speak eloquently, or that you have to talk about how bad everyone has it and that they need to try to fix the world. It really is hard to teach people who already have certain ideas that those things do not constitute a prayer. A prayer is a simple expression of gratitud and need. Why do we pray? Really think about it. YOU specifically, why do you pray? Sometimes we fall in the habit of praying because that is what we have learned to do, and we just do it out of habit. But if we think about why we do it we can see that there is much more for us to take advantage of than just a few minutes of silence in the day. We pray because we are imperfect people with needs. We have things we can't do for ourselves. We have struggles that no one else can help us with. We pray because there is someone to whom we can express ourselves openly and honestly without worry of judgment. I'll admit that sometimes I don't express myself as I should in prayer. Prayer should be simple. It should be meaningful. I have a lot of work to do in learning how to pray. And I have to learn how to really do it if I expect to be able to teach other people to do it too. I invite you to think about why you pray, and then work on making prayer an essential part of your life, not just a routine that is done a few times a day. I pray that we will have success as we do so. I love you guys. See you in two!

Elder Andreasen