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Monday, February 25, 2013

It's a beautiful day in the neighbor...Las Vegas baby!!! and it's almost March

Hellllo real world. Are you there Michigan? It’s me Elder Anderson.
As a quick starting note, we haven't been having too much work and not too much success in finding any either. So I've been praying/begging to find chances to serve and to talk with new people: to find people to help. This was a really good week. To butcher the song by the Insane Clown Posse (although idk how it could get any worse) "miracles, I see them all around me every day."  And that is fairly good description of what happens here. I haven’t seen too many of the things outlined in Hebrews 11 but I've seen a few. And they make me happy. I've always been a softie, I’ll admit that, but it’s interesting here how often I get emotional. I'm not a wreck or anything but I just get really happy a lot. Like when someone tells a story about their conversion or we watch someone commit to changing their lives or you find someone who has been waiting for the push to change. Or just simply when you see your prayers answered. That's been the nature of this week for me. Coupled with studying faith, I think I've come out of this week a better disciple of Christ than I went in. And that's the goal.

Monday was a super fun day. We played sports outside in the cold for a few hours, almost 3 and had a great time running and falling and all that good stuff. I got my first sunburn! Sounds weird but I haven’t really had one yet. Not that I want them by any means, but something so common before just happened to me for the like the first time in 6 months. Monday night we ate dinner with the Schwenke family which was nice. They are great people and I'm going to miss them a lot. Their food is really good but it's been nice to just... be able to have a good time with some good people and just swap stories and laughs. We had 2 lessons scheduled that night but both of them fell through. We had brought a member to the second one and then for the remainder of the night he lectured us. It wasn't bad; he was just telling us things that we needed to do. It was pretty funny actually. It went something like this: 1 [point of good advice and then 2 points of inappropriate things to say in English, then 1 point of good advice, then 2 inappropriate things in English. He was a funny guy. But a lot of the things he said I wouldn't repeat as a missionary or as a normal person, but to each his own. 

Tuesday was another great day. It was exchanges! All of you know how much I love exchanges. Not because I hate my companions but b/c it’s a good way to learn a lot more from a different perspective. Elder Slik is a really good missionary. I don’t know if anyone remembers but I met him at BYU. We had mutual friends and one night he used my oven. He was also in my BofM class. And Tuesday we were driving around Las Vegas preaching the gospel together. Who'd'a thunk? In the morning we were driving around trying to find people to visit when the impression came to visit a potential who really didn’t have that much potential. But we went. We knocked on the door and no one answered. We waited and then as we turned to leave a big ole moving van pulled up. We walked up and asked them if they wanted any help. They said that they were good but I wasn't going to take no for an answer. I jumped into the back of the truck and asked what should go in first? Then they responded and let me help. Sometimes you have to help others to help you help them, if that makes sense. They were super gracious because actually the man had been in an accident a few months ago and couldn’t lift anything and the woman was tiny. They would have been screwed had Elder Slik and I not been there. They had some ridiculously heavy stuff. I don’t wanna brag but I usually don’t struggle to lift boxes and stuff, but I think some of theirs were filled with lead. While visiting with the family between trips the man (they were boyfriend/ girlfriend and not married. That's why I call them man and woman) said that he was once a devil worshipper. Then he went on to tell us all the reasons that we, the 'dumb Mormons' were wrong. He said some interesting things I guess, they were all false doctrines and most of them based on the fact that we worship Warren Jeffs. It was a little bit eye opening how little people understand. We were able to explain that we were in no way affiliated with him and did not endorse anything he did. He seemed open to listen, but not interested in learning about the gospel. At least he's not confused anymore. The woman said thank you to us like a thousand times. Kinda cool I guess, because it was a lot like the other moving experience we had when I was on exchanges with Elder Martinez. But that was a huge blessing. We were there at exactly the right time to help someone who couldn’t really help themselves. We got lost a bunch that day. We parked the car a couple times and just walked the streets for an hour or so trying to find anyone to talk to. We found a few people but we would always end up down deep in some windy neighborhood and not sure how to get out. It was kind of funny, while turning into an alley we saw a pretty neat bike ramp and Elder Slik yells, “awww sick!” And as we finish turning the corner there was a young couple making out in the alleyway. They stopped and stared at us and we stopped and stared because we were so embarrassed. It was one of the most awkward 2 seconds of my life. We both tried to play it off but that didn’t work so we practically ran away. That night we taught a father how to use the priesthood to give a blessing to his sick daughter. That was an amazing experience helping people to exercise their priesthood to lead in their home in righteousness. Idk what better way to spend a Tuesday night. Then later we gave Marlon a blessing. I love Marlon so much. He is a good, good guy. He wants to be a good person more than most people I know. And it shows because of how happy and humble he is. Oh yeah, and then we also found a woman in the street who is less active and wants to get active so she can get her daughter baptized. That's not her only motive, they are actually interdependent. Like, she wants to get active for the right reasons.

Wednesday was also fantastic. We had district meeting which was pretty neat. Then later in our desperation to try to find people we walked around neighborhoods for 2 hours or so. We found interesting people. One person disfellowshipped and one person had his records removed. The first said for his story he just could go out and live the clubbing life on a Saturday night and then get all dressed up and go to sacrament meeting on Sunday. He said he was doing some bad things and he liked the bad stuff more than going to church so he stopped going. It was interesting to talk to him because he had been a ward mission leader and he seemed to have a testimony of the church but he just didn’t want to go anymore. But he did ask for a Book of Mormon to share with his girlfriend. I hope that she reads it, but I also hope that she doesn’t exist and that he was just too embarrassed to ask us for a copy. Either way if someone reads it they will be happy. That's all that matters! The other guy had some really bad experiences with bishops. Two bad ones in a row he said. So he wasn’t too interested in coming back anytime soon. They of course didn’t give us the full story but it made me sad to see them both so sad. English class Wednesday night was awesome. I just got to sit and talk to a guy about his life and his job at telemundo for like 45 minutes. I learned a lot. I love it when people tell me about their families and you can tell it’s a happy, functioning family. Too many of them that I've heard about here don’t fall into either of those categories. 

Freak I’ve got write faster. Thursday was a great day too! I was fasting for someone to find, someone to help. I had been praying all morning and we left almost instantly our prayers were answered. It was cold on Thursday, like 50 degrees and we saw someone working in their yard. We went over to ask him if we could help. He said yes and we started weeding for the complete strangers. As we got to talking he turned out to be a member of the church. He hadn't been active since he was a little boy but he'd been reading the BofM his whole life. He was working in the yard because he had no money and had to find whatever work he could because the job situation here is so bad. He lives with a daughter and her son and needed the money. As we talked more and more he told us that he had for the very first time since his boyhood said a sincere vocal prayer. He needed help. Then the exact moment that we called out to him was while he was taking a break to pray because his hands were cold (he was an older guy) and he didn’t know if he could keep doing this but he knew he needed to. That’s when we walked up to the fence and asked if we could help. 100% perfect timing. He said his prayers were answered and it was wonderful because mine were too. And to top it all off he was working for a member and when we talked to him, he gave us 3 names of people to go see! AHGHAGOAHO!!!! I hope that story made sense. It's an amazing one. Ughh. If it doesn’t I’ll tell you in 2 years. Oh man. It made me so happy. Prayer - answered. We taught 2 good lessons that night with our ward mission leader which went really well. Then Elder Crespo cut my hair because it was soooo long. 

Friday! Interviews! We had interviews with President Neider and that was awesome. He and I had a great talk for about half an hour. I learned a lot and I felt super good coming out of it. He's a good, good man. While we waited our turn Sister Neider trained us about street contacting.  Ahhh... We had some cool experiences that night street contacting and trying to apply what we learned. I’ll explain more later. No time. 

Saturday was awesome. We went to go teach a lesson but the woman was sick and so we walked the street and had 2 awesome service experiences. The first was good and it was scooping dog poop into a truck. More deets in 2 years. The second was incredible. AHHH!!! It makes me pumped just thinking about it. There was a man working out in his yard shoveling. But not just any man, the husband of a recent convert. But he is not interested in the church and actually doesn’t really like the missionaries or anyone from the church. He's kinda jealous. We asked him if we could help he said we'd get all dirty and then I was able to use my new favorite line "pshhh that’s what these are for, they're my work clothes!" He laughed and said whatever but it’s not my fault if you get dirty. So we didn’t say anything about the church and helped him shovel. As we did he started to talk to us and he opened up a lot. He told us stories and sooo much. The missionaries before hadn’t even been able to talk to him in a year and a half. Then after we finished the job he gave us a tour of his indoor and outdoor garden and was sooo happy and excited the whole time. We laughed with him and he told us all his gardening secrets. AOGIHAEGO it was so sick. I can’t explain it typing. I hope you get the gist. It was a 180 turn from how he used to be to how he was when we left. And his wife and kids came out and they were super happy to see us too. It was a great moment with that whole family.  Saturday was the night session of stake conference. EC translated which was cool so we got booth seats. It was a great session. There I saw the woman we talked to on Tuesday. She hadn't come to church in more than 2 years but because we invited her, she came. And she said she felt the spirit and she cried. Then she same to the Sunday session too. 

Sunday we got to go to the priesthood session b/c EC was translating. Sick! I liked it a lot and learned a lot. Then we went to the regular session which was a SLC broadcast. Elder Ballard spoke. That night we went to a great fireside. I got to see some old friends. Elders Sherwood and Johnson and Martinez and Sisters Despain and Franco and Fernandez. It was a fun time. 

Man. That was the week. SOOOOO much happened and each of the things I shared has soo many more details that I couldn’t really include because of time. But I loved it!!!!
I hope you all know that I love missionary work and what I am doing and that
I love you all so much.
Sam

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