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Sunday, July 29, 2012

One month down - 23 more to go!

Hey guys!
It's been a month. A whole month. And it’s gone by so slowly. But it's also gone by so fast. It's been a very weird experience to say the least. I got your Pioneer Day package late, but it was still very well received! Thank you for keeping me in the loop of what goes on in the real world. I did think about the trek a little bit during the devotional.

Before I start, thanks everyone for the letters! Brother Mayo and Erin, you two especially, I am hand writing letters to you right now as well but you two deserved shout-outs.
This week has been a fun one. I got my haircut on Tuesday! It is suuuuper short. Not to toot my own horn or anything, but I am one dang good-looking missionary, when I have short hair. The guy who cut it was really good. He didn’t use scissors once! He was incredibly deft with the clippers and fast too.  Mom, I think you should take some lessons :) The sisters were quite happy because they had been telling us that we needed trims for a very long time. I was starting to look especially shaggy. But now, no more.

Something else that was really fun was on Wednesday I got to play volleyball with some native speakers. They were all from Mexico, which was super cool. One guy only knew like 20 English words but every time I hit it he would yell “dream team!” which made me super happy and a little bit ashamed. I definitely did not deserve his praise. We played hard. We lost our first two games badly, but after we had a huddle in Spanish and switched up our game plan a little bit, we came back to win the next 3 in a row and were kings of the court by the time gym ended. That was a good day.

I hate to stereotype, but I am going to. All the Mexican people I have met and talked with here are so sweet. They have a happiness and a politeness that I'm not really used to. When I talk with them they are always excited (or act that way) to talk to me and to ask how I am doing and have been. I hope that the people of Las Vegas are like that as well.  I think I already said that but oh well.

Last night was hilarious. I am the closest to the elders on our floor out of my companionship, so sometimes some of the elders come and talk to me about my week or day or other stuff. I was chilling last night before quiet time with Elder Shields and we were talking about the MTC and our missions when suddenly one of the guys yelled “jousting” and on cue a bunch of half naked representatives of Jesus Christ appeared and they started jumping on each others’ back in like chicken fight positions. Elder Shields apologized and said that he had to emcee and then he went in the middle of the hall and called out companionships to run down the hall at each other. The top man held out his fist and tried to knock the other elder off the opposing charging "horse." It was completely not allowed but I must admit it was hilarious to watch. It was kinda like wipeout but in a hallway. I dunno, if I would have been allowed to videotape it I would have.

Saturday Smackdown ended on Thursday, as silly as that sounds and it was actually really sad. Our district has gotten really close to the ones that do Saturday Smackdown and they all leave Monday so that will be sad to see them go. But I'll survive, its just weird to like make these temporary friends. It’s been fun though.
This letter has been super lame. I don't know why. Sorry in advance.
Thanks for the poem and oath. I liked reading them a lot. I don’t’ know why I wanted to read those two things but I wanted to really bad.

Things are weird here. I want to go out and start serving and helping people but I also know that I wouldn't be able to do as good of a job as I want to. I've been practicing for a month to make people happy and bring families together but right now I don’t really get to do that so it's hard. It's not hard to focus cause I have goals and so it’s just hard to not get too anxious to be out in the field.

Kate - thanks for the letter again. You write good letters and I know how you feel. Most of my journal entries are "I want to write stuff, but we did the same thing again today. I'll try to write more tomorrow" but thanks, Kate, for just telling me all of it. I liked it a lot. Good luck on getting that license :)

Jacob - Thanks for writing in Spanish. It's pretty good practice to read it. Good job on winning the song thing and the I spy the dead guy too. I'd have believed you. Shame on you, dad.

I'm trying hard to think of things to write about or what to say. I guess I'll just write about Elder Harvey.

He and I are getting really close. We are pretty similar guys so we have a lot of fun and a lot of jokes. The Sisters say that we can read each other’s minds which is of course only half true. Humans cant read minds, that's silly. We always talk about our pasts and stuff and we both like a lot of the same things. It's nothing super, super exciting but he's a good guy and I like him a lot. I think we'd be good companions in the field. I like Elder Noyes too! He's a good guy as well but Elder Harvey and I are just closer.

Ahhh!!! I don’t want to waste this valuable letter writing time because I miss everybody so much!

It's been interesting being this away from everything. Some things fade away and other things have come up more strongly than they have before. I don't have lots of time or anything to sit and think about home or anything like that but when I do I think about the more important things... if that makes sense. I don’t know how to properly explain it. I guess since I've been out here I can think about things more clearly and I wish I could have done that in the months before and the years before I came out here. I hope that kind of makes sense to anyone reading that at home.
People like my Zelda shirt a lot. I think I already said that but whenever I wear it people get really happy and start talking to me. I hope when I get out to the real world having the name of Jesus Christ on my shirt will do the same thing. I am skeptical but when I am done I'd like to have helped people get that excited. If every time someone saw his name they got that excited I would have done my job.
I've been thinking about my goals for these next 23 months and that really sums it up. I just wanna share the good news. Share the joy. Bring the happiness of families and hope to everyone I possibly can.
Yeah. That sounds about right. I want to make people happy.
But you all knew that, that's my life goal too.
I love and miss you all so much
Estoy mas perdido que los hijos de la llorona
but not really 

Friday, July 20, 2012

Weeeeeek 3? I don't even know anymore

Hello Everyone!
I just want to begin by saying this. Mom, you wouldn't make it in the real world zombie apocalypse. Those zombies would use the Tabasco sauce to eat you. I've been in the kitchen before; there are tons of better things than Tabasco sauce.... anyway....

This has been another long week! But there isn’t too much different so I’ll use some of my time to talk about the weird things that go one here at the MTC. First are the secret combinations. I have witnessed many but only been able to take part in one.  After the fourth of July fireworks thing I went back to the residence ready to fall asleep so I could be functional the next day. After I got into my pajamas I went out to get a drink from the water fountain. But there were about 25 missionaries gathered around it. I tried to get through them to get a drink but suddenly they grabbed me and started yelling "give some to the new guy!" I must admit I was expecting much worse than actually occurred. I got pushed to the center of the circle where somebody pushed a double shot glass into my hand and filled it to the top with Martenelli’s. Everyone was chanting and stuff and dancing around and I imagined when Moses came down with the 10 commandments he saw something like this waiting for him. But anyway everyone was chanting as other people filled their glasses and then one shirtless guy with the most defined 6 pack I have ever seen raised his glass and everyone fell instantly silent. Then he screamed "TO THE UNSHAKEABLE BROTHER HOOD!" and everyone responded "THE BROTHERHOOD!" and drained their glasses. Then he yelled again, "We're getting real weird tonight!" that’s when I decided I could just get a drink in the morning and I politely .... pushed my way out of the circle and ran back to my room. There are some other weird things that go on too. Almost every night the guys do p90x [workout] for like an hour and most of them are all but(t) naked. (See what I did there?) It made me think of Maryann (not the naked part though). It's kind of weird because sometimes they also wrestle and stuff when they're all sweaty... kids these days.

I saw Dr. Peer [one of Sam's professors from BYU] on Monday which made me super duper happy. He was in the cafeteria and I broke the rules and yelled out to him, he came running(walking) over and gave me a huge hug which made me sooo happy. He remembered where I was going and asked me how the MTC was and we talked for a few minutes. Then he recognized Elder Harvey which was cool too. We all fist bumped and he went off to do his branch presidency stuff. He told me to tell my dad hello, so dad - "hello" from Dr. Peer. What was cool was when I sat down, the elder next to me said "habla espanol?" I laughed and said "un poco" and then he (in Spanish) asked me if I was going to Las Vegas and I said I was and he told me he was too! We talked for the rest of the lunch and he was a really cool guy (elder). He knows more English than I know Spanish which made me embarrassed but he was really sincere and I’ve seen him a couple other times around the MTC since then and he always calls me Elder Vegas and throws his arms around me. It makes me feel really good.

I’ve realized that a full day of class and learning and study stresses me out a lot so I spend some time at night drawing on the board and it makes people happy and unstresses me out which is a double win. Recently I drew up a Teacher versus Preacher bracket where the 8 district and zone leaders from our branch fight in the arena with the 8 teachers that have been teaching us. All the teachers thought it was hysterical and the nicknames have started to stick which is cool. Making people laugh is like the only thing keeping me sane here. And reading all the letters each week I get. I feel super loved when I get a nice big stack :) Thanks guys!
Quick shout out to the Johansson’s to the giant box of food they sent me!!!!  It was like 10 pounds of delicious junk food. I haven’t been eating much junk food here so I shared most of it and was an instant celebrity.  Another quick shout out to Hannah - congrats on getting engaged! You probably will be too busy to read this, but if not way to go ginger!

They closed the gym to redo the floor so I've been playing a lot of sand volleyball. Cool story huh? It's way different than indoors because it takes a lot longer to start moving but you can dive out there so that (almost) makes up for it. The problem is the sand gets everywhere and is really fine so it has like stained my towel and some of my shirts.
I saw Cameron on Wednesday! I was super happy to see him. I was coming out of lunch right as he left the bookstore and I ran up and gave him a huge hug. I don’t think he was prepared for it because he looked a little lost and overwhelmed, oh nuevos, so young and inexperienced. He got some goof new glasses so I almost didn’t recognize him, but not really. It made me happy to see him but I wish I had more time to talk with him. Maybe we can sit next to each other before a devotional or something. But he will have his hands full with Malay I am sure. He has to teach his first investigator tonight in Malay and I am not too envious of that. I was talking to another elder in his district who said that he was going old school and memorizing a lesson because he couldn’t speak at all. That made me laugh.

Speaking of making me laugh I think the worst band goes to Dad and the best (I promise I’m not playing favorites) goes to Cameron. Dad you're a loser :)/
Kate - thank you so much for your letter. Of all the ones I received this week yours was my favorite. I must admit that it made me tear up a little bit. You do need to work on your college essays your senior year should be a fun time to learn a lot and not have to worry about just like college apps. Get them done over the summer and then have fun during the school year without having to worry about them. But I know that won’t be a problem for you. The part about you throwing up made me laugh so hard. I was picturing it 100 percent like the sandlot when they swallow the chaw like splashing all over themselves and the people below the rides. Your signature "Kato" really made me happy too.
I have three requests this week 2 for the fam and 1 for everyone else. Mom and/or Dad can you send me "The Nights Watch Oath"(it might not be called that). It’s from a song of ice and fire it’s like 1 paragraph and can you also send me the walrus and the carpenter poem? Thanks. I’ve been thinking about those a lot. Everyone else keep sending me letters!!!! I love hearing from you all so much and they all make me happy and smile. If you don’t know what to write just tell me about your week and then end with a joke or your zombie apocalypse weapon or your super band. I love, love, love, love, love reading your letters. I feel like this letter was really short I hope it isn’t too short. But whatever it’s not my fault, I've gotta be obedient right?
I miss you all so much. But I'm having such a great time learning about myself, Spanish, the gospel, and you weird human people. I'm so glad I’m not one. I don’t think I could handle it. I’ll send home a paper tonight of more things that I want ya’ll to type up and put on here but you probably won’t get them till like next Tuesday. Tsk Tsk. Snail mail.
Thanks again for like the 30th time for all your letters. Let this be like my SOS. If you can read this shoot me a dear elder because I'd love to hear from you. I don’t want to seem needy ... but I am.
Your Favorite Martian
- Sam

PS. I thought about starting this letter out like an Elder Hafen with a cool thing I've eaten this week but I don’t think anyone wants to hear about the MTC food. It's probably way grosser than that cobra blood smoothie!

Friday, July 13, 2012

The 3rd Iteration

Helllllo Everyone!
I’d like to start with a thank you to everyone who has written and been writing me! It's so nice to hear from all of you and know how and what you're doing! Make sure you send me your address though so I can respond! Kristen, I got your letter and I want to write you back but you didn’t tell me how I can write you back! You others that did the same you know who you are.

The next order of business is a personal favor to me from all of you -
I want to know each of your ideal bands. It’s a little game I’ve been playing with people here and I want to hear what everyone from back home has to say. The rules are you can have 4 people, real or fictional. It could be Nacho Libre, Jack Black, Slash, Paul McCartney, the Hulk, Darth Vader, Taylor Swift or anyone else you can imagine. If the person you want is not a musician (Darth Vader for example) you can assume that he has average rock star talent in any instrument that you choose. So for Darth Vader it could be like the 3/2 upright bass or something like that. I’m curious to see what bands you guys would come up with!

Now to the less important business, I will start by describing my companions a little bit more for all of you. Elder Harvey is a football player who grew up half in Utah and half in Texas. He is about 6'3" or 6'4" and is a big strong guy. He and I get along really well, we both like telling jokes and being silly and we both are laid back and like working hard as well. He likes League of Legends though... so I don't know how cool he really is... just joking.  He's awesome. Elder Noyes is a little shorter than me and is a ballroom dancer. That is his life. He trains everyday to keep his body in dancing form even though he isn’t allowed to dance while he is here. He also is a pray-er. Whenever he has a problem he doesn’t think about it, he just gets on his knees and prays. It’s a little difficult sometimes because it’s hard to discuss things with him because he will be praying but he is a good guy. Elder Harvey is going to San Antonio and Elder Noyes is going to Columbia, South Carolina, but we are all speaking Spanish so that is really good practice.

Before I forget, this week I have also been thinking a lot about something Brother (Cameron's grandpa) Mayo said. -- Hope less, know more. Hopeless, no more. I figured I could add that to the list of corny things I’ve been sending all of you. I had made a note of it on my paper that I wanted to send it home so I did.

Thanks again for the text message write up Cameron, they made me happy. I’m glad you’re having a great time. I like getting things that help me focus. I'm weird that way I guess.

Mom, typing up a big list of questions and then sending them and SASEs would be awesome. You could then type up my response and put it on the blog as well. Klout would tell you that is a good way to increase influence, constantly updating.

Missionary work is tough. I haven’t even started the real thing but I know why they call it "work" and not just missionary time. It’s long days and short nights. But it isn’t all bad of course. Me and the trifecto and the district and the zone have a great time. Last Saturday we got to take part in the first ever Saturday Smackdown and it was loads of fun. One of the other districts hosted a huge, and almost violent, grammar challenge event. It was exciting and fun to watch and take part in. It was basically a huge spelling bee and memorization of vocab quiz but there was a lot of screaming and such. It was so close at the end that there had to be a video review! Not that any of that makes sense to all of you but I figured I had to write about it because it was so much fun. Hopefully tomorrow I’ll get to take part again.

Wednesday night before class ended Hermano Urquhart was telling a story and I decided I would share my story about returning home from BYU with all my coat. [Sam wore 3-4 sweatshirts/jackets (maybe more) on the plane because he ran out of space in his suitcase.  He was quite toasty on the airplane.] It took about 15 minutes to tell all the details but everyone was laughing and there were people from all across the zone and the nearby districts listening as well. Elder Harvey was laughing so hard he cried big fat tears. It made me really happy. I like making people laugh.

My stomach has still been bothering me but it hasn’t has been as debilitating as it was last week. It’s just like a constant reminder from my body that it doesn’t like the food here and it wants more sleep. But I can’t blame it. We don’t get too much shut eye. But it’s good because there is so much to do and so-so little time. My 7 weeks left feel like 7 years but I think I might need 70 to be the type of missionary I want to be.

Thanks mom and dad and everyone else for the packages. Sorry for omitting this in my last letter. The tie was awesome. People were shaking my hand like I was a celebrity, or the president. Everyone one loves a patriot, am I right? The other packages with food were good too. I like sharing and I was surprised how fast the taffy and the fireballs went but I know I made a lot of elders and sisters very happy. I wish I had more time to write and collect my thoughts, I have so much to say and this letter definitely needs a reworking.

Grandma and Grandpa thanks for the letter as well. I liked hearing from you and I hope you both have a great time in Michigan!
Rebekah! You have a very exciting day coming up for you and I’m so happy for you! I wish I could be there but I’ll have to congratulate you when I get back!

What to say - what to say - what to say. I guess I’ll just say whatever. I really like it here a lot. I like how undistracted I can be sometimes even if other times I just wanna curl up and watch a movie or something. I miss that stuff but I know I’ll still be able to watch when I get home.

This week we have 2 new investigators, Carlos and Tito. Tito is from Uruguay, I think, and he is really smart and found the missionaries in his busqueda del verdad. He is trying to find what is true and if there is a God and he stumbled across the missionaries and it is our job to teach him that God lives and loves him. It's hard because he says he doesn’t want to be blind and that he can’t believe anything yet because he hasn’t learned everything. I am learning a lot more from him than he is from me. Carlos is from Mexico and is Catholic but has kind of fallen out of it recently. He is going though some really tough family struggles and doesn’t think God is answering his prayers. He almost didn’t let us in the door but when we mentioned Jesus Christ he softened up. I forget sometimes that other people know about Jesus. Then I always feel silly when I do. hhahaa.

Our district has had the cleanest classroom 2 weeks in a row. We even got that written on our paper for us. It is pretty exciting that we are so awesome.
So speaking of awesome .... I made a huge mistake while teaching the other day. Like the kind that makes you go home and cry and then never leave your room again. While I was teaching a lesson, I said that Jesus Christ died to clean our fish.  To clean our FISH! The investigator looked at me like I was completely insane and I didn’t even notice it until he asked me why he needed his fish cleaned. ... I about died right there. It was so embarrassing. That is one mistake I will NOTTTTT be making again.

That’s all the time I have this week. I wish I had more time to tell you more stories but there never is. Thank you all again for reading this letter and writing your own back to me. Nothing is better than after a hard day coming home and being able to read all of your encouragement and funny stories!  Please keep them coming, they aren’t a distraction and I don’t respond individually because I don’t have time. I want to - I want to - I want to and I promise I will get to all of you soon. Please keep them coming and make sure to include your address so I can write back and thank you!  

Oh, and if you’re not in the mood to write about you band, lemme know what one tool in the room you’re in right now you would use for the zombie apocalypse. Remember it has to be in the room and you have to be able to survive. No cheating.

Until next week!
I love you all
Elder Samuel Blake Anderson, the first of his name, son of Robert, heir and Lord of House Anderson, Servant of the Lord Jesus Christ

Friday, July 6, 2012

Letter 2!

Hello Everyone!!
Week 2 at the MTC has been even crazier than the first few days and I have so much more to say and still only 30 minutes to write. I will try to answer as many questions as I can because that is pretty much all I have time for. Before I do that -
It has been so nice to read all of your words of encouragement and love;
it makes the days so much better to know and to hear from you all,
so thank you so much for all that;
it really has kept me going on the long hard days;
I hope to hear more from all of you even if I can’t respond to each letter you send.

P-day is going to be Friday for the next 9 weeks. I have until 6pm to do all my personal stuff and then its back to the classroom for another 4 hours. I am actually liking classroom time a lot more than I thought I would. It is something I look forward to each day even though it is sometimes 6 hours in a row.
I am in a threesome now and probably will be for the rest of my time in the MTC. For a while there was a chance of us being split up but now that new missionaries have come and none have been moved up I think el trifecto is secure. That is what we call ourselves. I learned how long I would be in the MTC on the first day I got here when they gave me my 9 (10) week schedule. I will be here for 63 days but that is over 10 weeks—if that makes sense.
Daily routine is boring to read but actually fun to do I get up every morning at 5am and make some soup.
Just kidding.
I get up and 6:30 am and get ready for breakfast at 7:10. After breakfast, we head to the classroom for study time or for classroom time—it changes. Some days it’s different. On Tuesdays and Fridays though after breakfast is either temple or service time. But the other days it’s classroom time. If we study first, we have class after and then gym time. If we have class first, it is study after and then gym time. It’s actually pretty easy to remember. After gym we have time to shower and go to lunch and after lunch is either study or class time. So for most of the day, we are sitting in the classroom being taught or trying to teach ourselves. Sometimes, we have class time after dinner, which we use to teach our investigators. After dinner we have class or study or sometime until 9:30 pm when we go back to the residence and get ready for bed and get to sleep by 10:30. It’s hard because I often can’t write in my journal because there is never enough time. That is the basic schedule. 2 three-hour blocks of class per day with a gym time and about 3 hours of personal and companionship study. It’s a lot of butt time.

There are 3 in our room but there are 4 beds, which is nice because we are not too cramped. Elder Harvey and Noyes sleep on the bunk bed closest to the door and I sleep on the bottom bed across from the window. 

The MTC food is awful. I have been sick this past week, and it has been so hard to eat food that is gross while wanting to puke before and then even more after. I haven’t been able to eat too much because most of it just ends up coming back up. So lots of PowerAde and salad. For some reason those 2 things don’t upset my stomach very much although they do not lead to exciting meals by any means.
About the sickness. This week has been really hard because have been feeling so sick and so sad. It’s been really hard to not feel sorry for myself and still be an example and a leader. It is a good thing I have that leadership-ness to hold on to other wise I might have broken down a long time ago. Life is hard here. But I can feel myself learning and growing each day which makes it all worth it.
I don’t really need too much, although a few more pairs of socks and some more shorts and t-shirts would allow me to not have to wear the same gym clothes everyday hahaha. That also might help the bedroom not to stink as bad. It’s not a big deal, I can definitely survive without them. I get all the dear elders you guys send usually the same day, which is so nice, although if they had dates on them it would help me a lot, because Dear Elder doesn’t say when they were sent.

I am in the intermediate district, which is between native and beginner. We speak Spanish 100% of the time but we are still in the MTC for 9 weeks. Native speakers are only here for 3.  

Wednesday was Independence day so we did get to watch the BYU light show/fireworks and eat ice-cream it was fun but they didn’t want us returning to bed until it was over and the show didn’t finish till after 11:15.... so Thursday was a longggg day. I don’t do too well with less than 8 hours of sleep. Before the show there was a fireside/devotional thing, which was pretty cool. Not as good as the one on Sunday about Joseph Smith.

Gym time is fun. I have been playing volleyball and it is such an experience. There are some real athletes here. I hope in 9 weeks some of that skill can rub off on me.

Thanks Cameron for the Dear Elder letter. It was so nice to hear some things from home and be reminded of the things that make me happy. I laughed till I cried over the quotes you sent me. I am glad that you are having a good time.

Thank you also uncle Adam for sharing your MTC experience. You don’t have to apologize I love hearing tips and tricks and ways to make the most of my MTC experience. As long as its different than the mantra "be obedient," it is something new.

I hope I can some how get across how much I love being here. I was thinking about this part specifically yesterday how awesome it is to be able to sit and bear testimony whenever I feel inclined. Or talk about Jesus Christ openly and deeply without the fear of being over bearing or anything like that. It is an amazing blessing and only begins to scratch the surface of what is so special about this place. There is no better testimony of the sacredness of the MTC than the constant spirit that is here. Even when everything seems bleak there are still things to make it all seem worth it. I am so happy to be here. Weeks I’m sure will drag on but they will be worth it and full of growth. After all they are to help me better serve and there is nothing I like more than doing that.

Something that I have been thinking about a lot lately and that has helped when I miss home a lot is the corny but awesome saying
“Missionary: someone who sacrifices time with the people they love, so those they teach can spend eternity with theirs.” That is the best way I think I have heard it put, because it truly is a sacrifice to be here. I feel that whenever anything reminds me of life before June 25th. It stings but then thinking about the blessings and the happiness that I could bring to people reinvigorates me. In the scheme of it all then my 2 years seems like a bargain for anyone's salvation and their opportunity to live with their family forever. What a blessing that could be for me to bring just one person into the fold. Just one person who can have that hope and joy that I feel. If I could teach 1 family of their divine potential I could die a happy man because I know that their lives will be changed and they will have such a great happiness with the knowledge that not even death can separate them. What a beautiful blessing this is.
The gospel is true and restored and it is on the earth to bless everyone. I hope to be able to fulfill that.

I hope to hear from all of you. All your letters mean so much. Dear Elder is pretty awesome.
To everyone I didn’t get to address I am sorry. Know that I love you all and I am thinking about you all the time.
See you all soon..ish.
Elder Anderson /// Sam.