Monday, April 25, 2016

How Great Shall Be Your Joy

This week was probably one of the greatest weeks of my life! So much awesome stuff happened and I don't think I have ever been happier than I have been this short time on my mission.

There wasn't too much going on Monday, we went to Derby to hang out with all the Elders who were heading out this transfer, and we got to play poker with one of their less active members. I lost all of my starburst, but luckily Elder Colemere picked them all up so we have enough to share! After that we went to a big dinner at the Branch Presidents house, it was a farewell dinner for the sisters, we thought only one would be leaving, but they didn't have any new sisters coming in this transfer so they had to take both. Everyone was really sad, especially their converts and investigators. After dinner we had just enough time to go make sure W___was still solid for the baptism on Saturday, which he totally was.

Tuesday we went up to Winfield and the sisters showed us around their area, and we met some of the progressing investigators, so we would have an idea of what to do when we had to go there to double cover their area, which is super hard especially since we only have a limited number of miles. After we went to meet a less active convert who totally dropped off the map but we found through W____. But he wasn't around cause he was with his girlfriend, but we did get to talk to another kid who lives in the house. He is one of the most laid back and chill dudes I have ever met.  His parents didn't seem too thrilled about us, so we might not get more opportunities to teach him.

Wednesday was transfers! Since I didn't come into Kansas on Transfers it was a brand new experience for me. I did get to see all of the Elders that were in my MTC district and that was awesome! Plus my MTC comp is now in my district! Also they decided that Elder Colemere should be a District Leader, so now I get to accompany him to all of his meetings, which can be kinda boring.

Since the Sisters left Winfield and we are double covering we got a new companion and are in a trio now! His name is Elder Eakle and he has already been in a trio with Elder Colemere in Ark city, crazy that they would send him back this way. But Elder Eakle will only be with us until his companion, who is home right now, comes back out to Kansas, which could be near the middle of this month. But I am really happy that he's around, and we are having a ball being in a trio.

On Thursday we went back up into Winfield to help Elder Eakle become more familiar with his area, and we got to meet a lot of really awesome people! We were able to put 3 people on date for baptism! And they seemed really interested in it, so hopefully they can keep progressing. On the downside one of the sisters investigators who is supposed to be baptized on the 30th doesn't really like us and doesn't know if she wants to be baptized! I really have no idea what to do about that, especially because I don't really know her, but the Sisters would be heartbroken if she doesn't get baptized...

Later that night we went over to W___'s and went with him across the street to his Aunt's house and talked with her a bit about W____'s baptism and we invited her and talked a little bit about the gospel, she was really really nice, but so is the rest of that family. After that we went over to S____'s house and were able to talk to her son, and were really able to get him to open up more, which is a huge step! He told us a lot about prison and what it was like there, apparently a lot of people there have phones, weird.

On Friday we started by meeting up with a less active member, R_______, who has really been struggling to get to church. Anyway after meeting with R_______ we went to an apartment complex where Elder Colemere met a kid who wasn't really solid (I think he sells weed or something), but he thought we should go give him a try. We knocked on the door and we met this kid named J____. He seemed really interested in what we had to say. After a few minutes of talking with him Gavin came home and we got invited up. We showed a video and J____ seemed really into it,  and we were able to share a solid message and left a Book of Mormon with J____, and left him with a chapter to read. On Saturday we go back to see him and J____ read the entire chapter! That hardly ever happens with us! He was kinda busy so we couldn't really share a message, but we left another chapter for him to read. We go back on Sunday, but he didn't read, he had actually just woken up when we got there at 1:00. But we did have a solid Plan of Salvation lesson and left him with a chapter to read. We will probably go back there today to see if he read.

Saturday was probably one of the best days of my life! We started out by going to Camp Horizon with one of the members of our branch. It's a church camp that's in a heavily forested area of Ark, with lots of hills, and an old brick factory. We were able to do some hiking, climbing, and exploring for our morning exercise. After that we had to head over to the church and start filling up the font for our baptism later that day! Unfortunately we noticed that there wasn't any baptismal suits at the church that would fit W___! It turns out the Sisters had 5 suits at their apartment and we had to drive all the way to Winfield to get them! It took us an hour...but we found one that is the perfect size!

W_____ had invited all of his family and friends over for the baptism, so we had like a dozen or more non members there. W___ had actually asked me to baptize him so I got to baptize my first convert! Twice! His knee slipped above the water the first time. But there was such a strong spirit there, almost everyone was crying. Hopefully with this experience his Dad and Sister would want to follow his example.

That is about all of the highlights from this week. It was super bomb, and hopefully I can have many, many more weeks like it.

-Elder Andrasko

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Getting Better All The Time

Haircut courtesy of DL

Every week so far seems to be better than the last.

So I guess last Sunday nobody had signed up to feed the missionaries
and the Branch President's wife, bless her heart, got really upset
about it. She was crying and everything, so needless to say we were
fed every day this week.

So T_______ has been kind of a flake lately, and it's really been
bumming us out. But Tuesday we drove by her house right as she pulled
in, so of course we were able to catch her before she went and hid
inside. She is such a nice lady, and always seems to enjoy our
message, but she just doesn't seem like she is ready for it yet. I'm
not sure we will be able to continue visiting with her, or at least
trying to visit with her. I've been told many times, "the fields are
white and ready to harvest, not brown and ready to plant." We've
already planted that seed, but she needs more time to let it grow.
Hopefully, something will change and she will be ready to listen.

So last week we met this guy, D_____, who seemed really cool and was
nice and open to our message. He doesn't really have an opinion on God,
so he doesn't say that he has been saved and shut the door on our
face. But we went back to see him Tuesday but he was to able to
read the chapter we left him from the Book of Mormon. But we were able
to talk about families and how important they are. We haven't been
able to get back into see him, we tried but he was in the middle of
dinner, then he didn't answer, so we'll see if he lets us back in.

On Wednesday I went on an exchange with the District Leader up in
Derby. It's a really difficult area and they are having trouble
finding people. We were able to talk with a few people, some really
hated us because they said, "A Bible! A Bible! We have got a Bible,
and there cannot be any more Bible"  - 2 Nephi 29:3. But we did get
one solid contact who had a real interest in our message. He was a
young guy who recently had a kid, his fiancé broke up with him, lost
his job, and had his car stolen. But he was still really positive
about it, but since this wasn't in my area I'm not sure what has come
out of it. Later that night the DL offered to cut my hair, I figured
it's a free hair cut, so why not? It's probably the shortest my hair
has ever been, it's not a bad thing, just different.

Thursday I went back with Elder Colemere to Ark and we were able to
meet with a ton of recent converts who haven't been to church a lot
lately. One just had a baby, so she has an excuse, another went to
church, but it was over conference so nobody was there. But they both
promised they would start coming again. After we had dinner with this
way cool young family, they ordered pizza so it was a pretty great

Later that night we were able to get in and see W_____, who we are
basically best friends with now, and he is 100% committed to getting
baptized on the 23rd. Elder Colemere and I were so happy that words
can't even explain. But at the same time we were nervous because
transfers are coming up and we didn't know if we would both be here to
see the baptism.

Friday we got a call in he morning asking if we can help move stuff
around, we of course said yes! They picked us up and drove us out to
the place, well it turns out everything was already done but he needed
to talk to someone about a contract. So we basically just sat around
for two hours, which was super lame. Later, we were able to meet with
a recent convert, 9 year old kid named J_____, he is a little stinker.
We met up and made sure everything is going alright and check if there
is anything we can do for their family. After we had to wait to be
picked up by a member who was taking us up to Winfield to have dinner- we
had pizza again! Just like every other night we were able to meet with
W____  and keep teaching him and making him more solid for baptism.

Saturday was a lot of missed appointments and meeting with members to
grow trust in the branch, which is an awesome branch. We just want to
get more referrals so we can find more people to teach, we might be a
little dry in the next month. Which is a big reason why I gave a talk
Sunday about member missionary work, I was nervous so I spent like
a whole week preparing for it.

It was a great week, and we are really excited for this coming
Saturday for W_____'s baptism. My week has been great, and I love it
out here!

- Elder Andrasko

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Thunder Road

Ark City Sky. The video below is up close and personal with a thunder storm!

This week was way awesome! There has been so much progress in Ark, Elder Colemere was saying that Ark is one of the fastest growing areas in the mission!

So on Tuesday during our weekly zone conference we got a text from the APs saying that they wanted to go on exchanges with us, which would be an awesome learning experience for both of us, so of course we said yes! So a few hours after the meeting ended we met up with the APs at a Wendy's, grabbed some dinner and headed out. We had two lessons for sure that night, one with W___ and another with S____'s son S____.

I ended up going over to S____'s house to teach S_____, while Elder Colemere went to teach W____. So we started out asking about the commitments; read, pray, etc. but he didn't follow through on any of  them. Bummer. But he did have questions about what was said in Priesthood session of conference. We addressed those questions, and we  started getting into the priesthood keys, and why it is important that  you are baptized with priesthood authority. So at the end we ask the  big question, "will you follow the example of Jesus Christ and be  baptized by someone holding the priesthood authority of God?". He told  us he'd rather just stick with what he knows. Bummer. We haven't given  up on him, but we need to find simpler ways to teach him, for he is a
simple kind of man.

After our lesson we went to try a few of our other investigators,
including T_______. But none of them were home. So we met back up with  the other two and exchanged back for the night. They had been meeting  with W____ for the entire two hours of exchanges, and it went super  well. He accepted the invitation to baptism!! So we are working with  him to be baptized on the 23rd, it's still not a definite thing, but  it seems pretty likely.

Wednesday and Thursday ended up being really slow for us. All of our  appointments fell through, nobody called or texted back, nobody  answered the door. It was really long and boring. But we did have one  exciting thing happen, we blew out a tire! Yay! We pulled over into  the McDonald's parking lot to change the tire, and everyone was giving  us funny looks, I mean changing a tire in nice white shirts? But  nobody offered any help. We haven't been able to get it fixed yet,  hopefully we will later today, so we've just been driving around on  the spare.

Friday and Saturday we spent most of our time walking around
proselyting talking to everyone we saw. We did pick up a couple people that seemed to be pretty solid, we placed a few Books of Mormon and restoration pamphlets. There was quite a few people that seems like we  can go back and have a lesson with. One guy accepted an invite for  baptism, we're hopefully going back to see him again today.

Yesterday was a super sick day though. We were able to get W____ and  his mom to church, he's never been, and she hasn't been in years and  years. It was an awesomely huge step towards baptism. They weren't  able to stay for all three hours, but they were there for the most  important hour. It was an awesome testimony meeting, and since I  haven't spoken yet in the branch I decided I probably should. After Sunday school the young men's president asked me to come help teach  about the restoration, piece of cake I do that all day!

After church we got an invite from W____'s mom, A____, to come over  for dinner! I was a little sad that we had to cancel dinner with the  Branch President, cause he cooked us lamb last time, but I was super  excited to have another lesson with W____. When we got there W____ and  his dad were just getting out their motorcycles to teach W___'s  sister how to ride. It looked like pretty fun stuff. We all went  inside to wait for the meat to finish cooking. Shortly after we went  in W____'s dad came out with these great looking pork loins that were  wrapped in bacon.  It was the most tender delicious meat I have ever  tasted. And they had is special sauce that they dipped it in, steak  sauce with a load of butter, that was crazy good. After our great  dinner we were able to see their massive collection of old knives and  guns. One knife was so rare it had a crazy price tag and they had this  sweet WWII Nazi gun, it even had the swastika on it!. After we had a  great lesson with the whole family! It was like a spiritual overload.

Then last night we had a crazy, like really crazy, thunderstorm. It
was nonstop lightning all night, and the thunder was so loud it shook  the entire house, it was definitely one of the coolest storms I have  ever seen.

Life is good, mission is good.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Dust in the Wind

This week has been super awesome!

So every Tuesday is our zone conferences, so that takes up more than half the day, but when it was over we all went to McDonald's, mostly because monopoly is starting and everyone wants to win that million. But when that was over I started my first ever exchange, and it was a really long exchange too. Elder Griffiths and I went out proselyting, we didn't have a car, and it made me appreciate my car so much more! We mostly went out walking to meet with some former investigators and knock a few doors on the way. Mostly people told us to get lost, but we did meet this way cool middle eastern dude with a young family.

The exchange didn't end until Wednesday evening, around like 5 or 6, but Elder Colemere taught a first discussion with a referral we had. It was a young mom who just lost a close family member and has been super down lately, so it's easy to see how the gospel can bless her life. She is super ready for the gospel and is open to everything being taught to her.

So we are really focusing on an investigator  I talked about a little bit last week. We got a call from his mom this week and he tried to kill himself. Heartbreaking. We were able to get him to come to young men's on Wednesday and introduce him to the boys his age. Everyone was welcoming and it seemed to go really well. Afterwards we had a super rad lesson with him and his mom. We got back in to see him on Thursday and built a ton of trust, I feel like we are becoming pretty good friends. He went out of town for the rest of the week, so we'll get a chance to see him again this week.

So one investigator's  husband, who we've been trying to teach, isn't around during the weekdays because of his job, he's a truck driver, so it's been really hard to get in and try to teach him. But her oldest son got out of prison on Wednesday so we were able to get in to see him on Friday. While he was in jail he got baptized, not into our church, but it was still really awesome to see how willing he is to change his life. We taught him the first lesson and he seemed genuinely interested in what we were teaching him. We left him a Book of Mormon to read, and he read it! We also went over to the house Saturday night and he watched all of Priesthood Session with us! We missed the chance to invite him to baptism, but next lesson we will do that for sure!

Speaking of Priesthood Session, conference was amazing! This is the first time in my entire life, probably, that I stayed awake for all 10 hours! I got way more out of this conference than I have in every other conference I have ever seen. There was a lot of stuff in there that I feel like could help us with our teaching. But Elder Holland's talk was seriously the bomb.

After conference we went to meet with a referral we had gotten earlier in the day, which is our second referral in a week, we went around for awhile and wasn't able to find the house. After teaching a lesson or two we went back to see if we could find the house, we walked down the same exact alley that we did before and noticed a house with the number we were looking for. When we knocked we met this awesome lady who is a southern baptist, but hasn't found a church here in Ark that she likes. We were able to talk with her for 10-15 minutes and were able to schedule a return lesson for tonight! It turns out she wasn't the referral, but she seemed ready to hear our message. 

Ark City is an extremely blessed place with a lot of potential for baptism! The biggest downside of Ark is the very present drug scene, especially with the high school aged kids. But there is no obstacle that can't be overcome through Christ, and there are a lot of people that have turned their lives around. God lives and he loves us, and that is the main message we share.

-Elder Andrasko