Monday, December 28, 2015

The Most Wonderful Call of the Year

Hey Mom!

I'm glad that everybody liked my Christmas sweater, I thought it was a sweet choice too! It was good to talk to you all for a little bit, even though the video feed wasn't working on my iPad for most of it (#TechProblemsTechEldersCantFix). Yes, I even tried resetting my iPad, if you were going to tell me to try that next time. 

The day after Christmas was super cool--so Jose was getting baptized in the Naperville YSA Ward, and one of the mission rules is that you can attend baptisms, but you have to get a member to drive you, you can't drive the mission car. Being Christmas weekend, all of the members in Normal were out of town or had family in town, so they were busy. So on Friday night, we weren't planning on attending, but who would come to the rescue but SCOTT BOSWELL HIMSELF! I couldn't even believe it, that man is a saint. Like I had mad respect for him before, but when he's like, "Yeah, I'll come pick you up and take you to the baptism tomorrow" (keep in mind, Normal is like an hour-and-a-half drive each way from Naperville), I couldn't even believe it. That man deserves a special place in heaven! I could go on and on, but Scott Boswell is a stud! 

Jose's baptism was super long, because the font drained like 3/4 of the way by the time the opening exercises were over, so it took another half hour to fill the font back up part-way, and Elder Campbell had to get him pretty low in the water to immerse him completely. Scott took us back down to Normal after the baptism, and we had a really good conversation with him about missionary work!

Steve is doing really well, we taught him once this last week. We also had a Skype lesson with Bri, who is a college student at ISU that has some real potential! I'm excited to meet her in person when she gets back from Christmas break! 

The members here in Normal are amazing, we were taken care of for dinner every day this week. The Ringer family had us over for dinner, and it was really cool, because it turns out that they called all of the missionaries' moms and asked them about favorite foods and Christmas traditions that their families had before their mission. A couple of the things the Ringers did for me specifically were put together a Christmas puzzle (a tradition my family always did before my mission) and drink sparkling cider. Other foods included turkey, pork, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, green jello, salad, rolls, pie, and hot chocolate. It was a really good meal, and we sang Christmas carols together after dinner, and read the nativity story as well. The Ringers have a SWEET train that goes around their Christmas tree, something Landon would really like--there's even a Lego village that's part of the train set too!

As far as member missionary work goes, I wish members would realize how great doing the little things for missionary work really is! Like when Scott took us to the baptism on Saturday, we went to lunch afterwards, and when they handed his change back, he gave the lady a pass-along card. I mean, maybe she'll look at the card, and maybe she won't, but you never know where the card might end up, and who will be effected by it. If every member could just give out like 1 card a week, the amount of baptisms that missionaries see every year would go way up, I'm sure of it.

I love you all, and it was so good to hear from all of you guys! I'll talk to you all again soon, hope you have a great new year! I'll be celebrating by going to bed at 10:30!

Much love,
Elder Dallas Anderson

Twas the Week Before Christmas

Hey Mom!

I'm glad that everyone made it home safe, although I'm a little sad that I won't be able to meet Breven. That's cool that his last name is Bennett too, must be a good last name! I did receive a December care package from you, thanks for sending that, I appreciate it! Who were all of the people that helped put that together?

Our week was pretty good, we've been able to get in and have a lot of lessons with active members, which is really good, because 99% of the time, the most solid investigators that the missionaries teach come from members' friends, neighbors, family, etc., so we're trying to get the members involved doing missionary work. We also taught Steve again this week, and he came to church on Sunday, so he's doing a really good job! We'll meet with him again tonight.

At church yesterday, we sang in the ward choir, which was a real challenge, because I'd never heard two of the songs before, and they were dang hard! We only had two practices before our performance (at least that the missionaries went to), but I thought it went pretty good for that little of practice.

It finally got cold enough this week to where I had to break out the thermals (in the 20s), but it's warmed up again, and is supposed to be in the 50s all this week. I think I've given up any and all hopes for snow at this point...

For the mornings, our regular schedule is 6:30--arise (we actually get up around 5:45 so that we have more time to work out in the mornings); 7:00--breakfast/prepare for the day; 8:00--personal study; 9:00--companionship study.

Exchanges went pretty well this week, especially the first one (with the exception that in the first exchange, a member had a friend over that only wanted to bash with us, and my companion on the exchange was arguing back quite a bit, so I had to get him to calm down). The second exchange was a little tougher, because it was with a missionary that is pretty closed off--all of his responses are like 3-word sentences, so it's hard to have any type of conversation and hard to get to know him, but oh well.

We have a Christmas party tomorrow, and the Assistants asked me to MC, so any jokes you've got would be much appreciated. I'll be honest, being a missionary MC is going to be tough, because usually you can make fun of the acts and the people performing a little bit, but that's probably frowned upon in the mission lifestyle, so I've got to figure out how to be humorous somehow. But that shouldn't be the hardest thing in the world, I got jokes for days!

Well Mom, I'm super excited to talk with all you guys on Friday, that will be super exciting! I'll probably have some questions for you then, I don't really have anything as of right now. Thanks for all that you do, I love you all!

Elder Dallas Anderson

Monday, December 14, 2015

Is Life Normal in Normal, IL?

S/O to my boi Landon on his bday!

Hey there!

Normal, IL jokes for days, yeah, they were old before I got here, LOL. But Normal itself is awesome, I love it! The members (we serve in a family ward, there isn't a YSA ward in the Peoria Stake) are exceptional, and we've got a full meal calendar for the next few weeks. Our ward mission leader's name is Howie, and he is hilarious! He is one of the best member missionaries you've ever met in your life, and he knows how to take care of his missionaries.

So from what I've heard, all of the investigators that we met with in Naperville are doing great! There were four of them at church yesterday, and Jose is still on date for December 26th for his baptism! I'll be sure to keep you in on the loop as much as I can.

My new companion is Elder Bennett, and he's from Spanish Fork. He's been out for about 17 months, and is a really hard worker and is exceptional at giving group trainings. He's also really good at finding ways to serve other missionaries, so it's going to be an awesome transfer working with him! We live in an apartment a few blocks from ISU, and I'll be sure to send you some pics this time, because we have some legit decorations up in our apartment! We'll teach everybody that lives in our area, with the exception of those that speak Spanish, because the gift of tongues is not real for Dallas.

Our zone training meeting went really well, especially considering the very little time we had to prepare for it. The mission is currently focusing on making the hours between 6:30-10:00AM more effective, and the new push has gotten a lot of the missionaries excited, so I'm really stoked to see all of the miracles that come out of it!

For the responsibilities that zone leaders have, I'll tell you as much as I know, because I'm still trying to figure it out myself, haha! So we are to conduct exchanges with all of the Elders in the zone once a transfer, which means about two exchanges per week. We have a zone training or zone conference each month at which we present and go over the goals of the zone for the current month and the month previous. We also call each of the companionships in the zone once a week to see how they are doing and help out with any struggles that they are having.

That's all I've got for this week, you'll have to let me know if there is anything that I can do for any of you! I love you tons, and pray for you guys all the time. Can't wait to hear from you next week!

Elder Dallas Anderson

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Giving Up the Normal Routine for Normal, IL

The Elders with Jose

It was a great week for us here in the Naper YSA Ward, accentuated by both Jose and Brittany coming to church and continuing to progress toward their baptismal dates! We had a really good lesson with Jose on Sunday and he's feeling really good about his baptism. We went through the baptismal interview questions with him, and he had no concerns with him whatsoever, so I'm really excited for him!

We got a media referral this week for a girl named Anna, who is really cool! She told us that she has seen the Church in the media a lot lately and wanted to learn a little for herself before she made any judgements. She invited her friend Marvel to the lesson, and we were able to teach both of them about the Book of Mormon and the Restoration, and they both expressed interest in learning more! Anna especially seems interested--she asked a lot of questions about the Book of Mormon, and the coming of Christ to the Americas, and she read the chapter we assigned her within a day of the assignment, so she seems pretty solid! Both Anna and Marvel attend Wheaton College, and have finals coming up, but we are meeting with Anna this weekend, and hopefully with Marvel after his finals are over!

One of the highlights of the week was when Brad had us over for dinner on Saturday, and he got us B-DUBS!!! It's the second time that I've had Buffalo Wild Wings on my mission, and he's been the one to come through in the clutch both times. #IHeartBrad #HastenTheWings We also got to do some good service at Feed My Starving children with Brad and Trevor during the week, and that was a lot of fun! Our table was doing mad work!

If you haven't already heard via Facebook, the bittersweet news of the week is I'm being transferred down to Normal, IL on Tuesday. To be honest, I was shocked when I got the news from President Griffin, because I was expected Elder Campbell would leave the area first, since he's been here a couple of transfers longer than me already. 

The tough part about leaving, is that I've come to love the ward and the investigators here in the Naperville YSA Ward so much. I've never had an area where so much has been going well (with Jose and Brittany on solid baptismal dates and several other investigators), and it's hard leaving that behind, because Elder Campbell and I have worked so hard to get there. It's also hard to leave the Naperville Stake, because I've been serving here for the past 10 months of my mission, so it's pretty much my second home. 

The good part about transfers though is that I'm super excited for my new area--it's home to Illinois State University, and that's where a lot of the proselyting is done, because it is an open campus! It's pretty much YSA part 2 with all of the college kids down there! The other exciting (and nerve-wracking) part of the transfer call is that I've been assigned to be a zone leader, which means that I'll probably be going on a lot of exchanges and working one-on-one with a lot of missionaries. I'll get to the area Tuesday evening, and we have to train at a three hour meeting on Thursday, so we'll see how I do with one day of preparation time! I guess the zone has had struggles in the past with attitude issues, so hopefully we can get some enthusiasm going this transfer and help the missionaries have an awesome Christmas!

Bishop Rodriguez invited all of the YSA Ward members over to his home last night to have a party before the Christmas devotional, and it was great! It was really fun to spend one last night with all of the members and say my goodbyes ending on a high note. I will definitely have to come back to visit some of the members and investigators from here in the YSA area, because it's been a real privilege and blessing to serve here.

You're the best Mom, can't wait to talk to you again next week!

Elder Dallas Anderson

The YSA Christmas party (Nice matching sweater vests, Elders!)

Monday, November 30, 2015

Great Week in Naperville (and a great story to Boot!)

It was an amazing week for us in the Naperville YSA Ward this week! We had two lessons with our investigator Brittany this week, and she's probably the most solid investigator that I've met in my life--she's prayed about her baptismal date and got an answer that January 16 is the day for her, and she's doing a 90-day Book of Mormon challenge with one of her friends that is a member of the Church! We're having a lesson with her next Sunday, and she'll be at church again, and coming to the Christmas devotional!

Although Jose missed the sacrament portion of our meeting Sunday, he has been doing amazing with his reading assignments and is part way through Mosiah and 13 chapters into Jesus the Christ (he started reading that on his own)! We had a great lesson with him yesterday and answered some of the questions he's had about Christ and His characteristics and attributes. We also talked to him about the importance of church attendance, and he committed to being at sacrament meeting next week. The super cool part about the lesson though is that we asked him about his baptism, and he said that he's more sure of baptism than ever, and that he feels like he's gained a lot of the wisdom that he felt was missing! We're super excited to be helping both him and Brittany towards baptism!

One of the best parts of the week was Sunday night, we had the chance to teach Anand again! It was one of the most intense lessons that I've had on my mission: we were teaching about prophets and priesthood authority, and before we even talked about apostasy, he asks us the question, "So you're saying that your church is the only one that has the authority to baptize?" We responded that it was, and he was torn at that, because he really enjoys the church he is currently attending. He said that he didn't want to have to be torn, and that he was thinking about being baptized in the other church. We talked to him a little bit about the apostasy, and how the Book of Mormon was evidence of a restoration of lost truth. We read Moroni's promise with him, along with several other scriptures, and he said that he felt is was scripture, and actually committed himself to reading AND praying about the Book of Mormon before we could invite him to do so. It was really cool to see his whole attitude change throughout the lesson from, "I think I'm good with the church I'm going to," to "I'll try this out before I make any decisions." It's truly amazing how smart Anand is, especially for someone his age. Everything clicks in his mind before we even explain it, it's pretty incredible!

On Thanksgiving, the Mathers had us over for dinner, and we enjoyed some good food, but there was no pie to be had for Dallas that day. #FitForTheKingdomIsLife #NoSecondsNoProblem

Our boundaries are absolutely enormous, it's pretty much impossible for us to leave them. We cover both the Naperville and Joliet stakes, which cover between 1/3 and 1/2 of the mission. To be honest though, we hardly ever go more than 30 minutes away from the church building in Woodridge (Bourbonnais being one of the few exceptions), because we figure that most people don't want to drive more than half an hour to get to church.

Here's the story of the week (AKA: laugh at Dallas moment; AKA: total garbage): So we got a call that Clemonte (AKA: football beast; AKA: total stud; AKA: the next Chicago Bear) was moving, so we headed down there to help him out. He's heading to the city, so it was really great to see him one last time before he left, since we handed him over to the sister missionaries a couple of months ago. 

But anyways, we get done packing the moving truck and head back to our van (AKA: the silver bullet; AKA: soccer mom swag), and there's a parking boot on it...WE WERE PARKED IN A VISITOR SPOT AND GOT A PARKING BOOT. The police officer told us that it was a city ordinance that you need a visitor pass to park in the visitor spot. #AreYouForReal #GottaBeKiddingMe We start walking to the van to see if we have money to pay the ticket then (which was $170), and the police officer tells us that if we touch or tamper with the boot, it is a federal crime--like we're going to try to get it off in the first place, especially while he's sitting right there... Yeah I'll just be sitting in prison someday with a guy that's in for murder, and he'll say, "What're ya in for?" and I'll respond, "I'm doing 45 years to life for looking over the lock on our van's parking boot." #CriminalLife #YoungAndReckless 

Anyways, so the policeman offers one of us a ride to the Walmart to get cash (yes, the ticket had to be paid in cash), and we tell him that as missionaries, we have to stay together. He responds that we'll have to walk to Walmart then because he doesn't want to get jumped... #ThanksOfficer #SoccerMomsWalkAnyways Luckily, Walmart was pretty much next door, so we walked over there and got cash back (NOTE FOR MOM: Hence the $90 transaction from Walmart on Saturday, Elder Gentry didn't have his wallet on him, so I had to get some money for him too...I'm so sorry about this Mom). We came back, paid the ticket, and offered the police officer a pass-along card. It was surprising how he loosened up after we told him about what we do as missionaries. He told us that he appreciated what we were doing, but he didn't cut us any slack with the ticket. I honestly think our companionship did a pretty good job trying to focus on the positives and thinking about what Heavenly Father wanted us to learn from this rather than dwelling in frustration for the rest of the night. Lesson learned from all this? Don't touch the parking boot, it's a straight shot to prison. #TheRebelliousness

I can't wait to talk to you for Christmas, it's going to be super exciting! I'll talk to you again next week (and it's transfer week, so it might come a couple of days late)!

Elder Dallas Anderson

Elder Dallas and Clemont.

When It Rains, It Pours (Good and More Good Out of Naperville!)

Dallas and his birthday umbrella. #MakeItRain
Hey everybody!

So the really cool thing that happened this week is that we were able to teach Anand again for the first time in several months, and he's doing awesome! We're trying to figure out the logistics for getting him baptized, because he lives about a block outside of our area, but we'll figure it out. We asked him to be baptized on January 19th, and he asked if there was any possibility that he could be baptized sooner than that, so we invited him to baptism, on December 26, and he wanted even sooner than that! We had to help him understand that he'd need to come to church a couple of times before he gets baptized, so we'll have to see when he can start coming to church.

We had an investigator named Brittany come to church on Sunday! She has been meeting with missionaries in a family Ward, but wanted to try out the YSA Ward just to see if she liked it, and she said that she actually liked the YSA more than the family ward, so we'll have to see if she starts coming to the YSA each week now. We have a meeting on Wednesday morning with her, so we are excited for that!

The Mathers (a family in the bishopric) are having us over for Thanksgiving dinner, so I'm really looking forward to that! Other than that, no major plans for Thanksgiving, just doing our weekly planning and proselyting after dinner. I just know that I'm not getting seconds on Thursday, because I'm too FFTK for that!

As far as my birthday goes, I totally forgot to mention that in my last letter, but Scott Boswell called me to wish me happy birthday, and he learned that we didn't have a dinner appointment, so he immediately invited us over, and I got to have dinner with the Boswells, who I love so much! It was super nice of them to have us over so last-minute.

Unfortunately, missionaries are not allowed to go Black Friday shopping, so I'll have two extra years to catch up on next year... I mean, all the YSAs are probably out and about at that time, so it's a legit proselyting purpose, right? LOL, just kidding.

Today for preparation day, both of the Naperville zones got to attend the Chicago Temple, so that was neat, because going to the temple doesn't happen too much when you're on a mission. It was really fun to be around a lot of the missionaries I've served with/around and talk with them. And as an added bonus, President and Sister Boswell gave us a ride to and from the temple, so we got some good time to talk with them, which is always great!

We FINALLY got some snow this past week, it snowed for about 20 straight hours on Friday and Saturday, but we only got about an inch and a half that stuck, and now it's all melting today... I absolutely love the snow (and just the Christmas season in general), so I hope we get a tons more here soon! But I do have to say that it's getting colder--the day after the snowstorm, it never got above 25 degrees, so the -40 degree days are not too far away. Don't worry Brockbank, I'll hold don't the fort concerning winter for the both of us. You just enjoy the Cali life of 60-70 degree winters for us both, because California knows where it's at.

Thank you so much for the birthday packages, I really, really appreciated them! You better let Landon know that I'll be rockin' some Bulls joggers here soon!

I hope that you have some good plans for Thanksgiving this weekend, even if it's just filled with hockey! I hope the boys get to do a Turkey Bowl or something fun with their team.  Thanks for your letters, I can't wait to talk to you again soon!

Elder Dallas Anderson

Monday, November 16, 2015

This Week's Phone Funnies

Hey Mom!
We taught a man by the name of Chris this week; he is a referral from the Wheaton Sisters, and he's super nice, but the teaching process will probably go very slowly because his level of comprehension is not super high. But he's interested in learning, and is quite the character! There will be a story on him later in this email.

Our week was pretty good here, lots of meetings for Elder Campbell and I, which meant Elder Gentry got to go on exchanges with different sets of missionaries while we went to the zone conferences. In one of the meetings, Elder Campbell began our presentation by talking about how he's been serving in the YSA Ward for about 8 months now, so when he goes on exchanges to the family ward, it's hard for him to teach kids because he isn't accustomed to them. He then related that to receiving revelation to use the iPads effectively. After he was done, I said, "I testify what Elder Campbell said is true. *Pause* Teaching kids is hard." Haha, I thought it was pretty clever, and the two zones at the meeting thought it was pretty good too!

It was a week of comedy though, especially over the phone. I don't know if you remember Anand, but he was someone that we were teaching about 3 months ago, and we just made contact with him again! He told us that he's had a really good recovery, and that he wants to be baptized in the future! The funny part, is that when we were on the phone with him, he told us an experience he had where he helped his friend, and he said, "I saw my buddy the other day, and he was high as a... something pretty high." Haha, I don't know if he was looking for the word 'kite' and just couldn't find it, or what, but that was pretty funny.

Other funny things that have happened: We were trying to set up an appointment with Chris, and he wanted to meet at the library, but we thought it was closed, so we texted him and asked him if it was closed. He texted back, "Actually it probably is. Lets get food I recommend pizza" LOL, I think it's funny because investigators never say stuff like that. The other text we got, is we were trying to set up an appointment with a potential investigator named Thomas, and he responded back asking who was texting. We responded that it was the missionaries, and his text said, "O. whats upppp" Haha, the stuff you get as missionaries, there are some real characters out here, let me tell you!

Well that's all that I have for this week, I really appreciate all of the birthday wishes! Let me know if there is anything that I can do for you! hope that you have a fantastic week, and that hockey goes well for the boys this week! (And that school doesn't get cancelled again, because that's Busch league.)

Elder Dallas Anderson

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Mini Golf Master

Hey everybody!

I'll start this email off good with a report on our mini-golf last week: as expected, our group DOMINATED the rest of the groups, setting the course record with 29 shots. The next closest group was 39, so domination is not an exaggeration in the slightest. I was definitely rockin' the Tiger Sunday red for it though, so maybe that's why I was able to play so well. The holes were all designed by the YSA members, and they just used a bunch of different, random objects as obstacles and hole boundaries (ex. shoes, cups, chairs, hymn books, stuffed animals, etc.). It was a pretty fun activity!

Elder Gentry has been doing a good job so far as he's worked with us. Unfortunately, there aren't any Swedes out here that we've found yet, so he's on his own for practicing and studying. It seems like he's learning the language well when he prays in Swedish, but TBH, he could be saying anything and I wouldn't know.

As for teaching this week, Elder Gentry and I were able to teach Jose the rest of the principles in the Commandments lesson (Elder Campbell was on splits with a member). He is doing really well with his reading, and continues to impress us with questions that he asks, but has been struggling with church attendance. He won't be able to make it next week, but we hope that he'll be able to come regularly after that so that he can prepare for his baptism in December.

Besides Jose, Elder Campbell and I had an interesting experience this week: we were at MLC (Mission Leadership Council), and we got a phone call from a member in another ward. This member has a daughter that is YSA-aged, but is less-active, so neither or us had met her before. As it turns out, she has a boyfriend that had a couple of questions about the Church, and he was over at the member's home, so we booked it out of MLC over to go teach him. This man's name is Josh, and our lesson with Josh could possibly have been the most interesting and difficult lesson that I've had to teach on my mission. Josh is an atheist, and has a really hard time with the principle of faith, because he wants factual evidence. We taught him about exercising small particles of faith, and left him with the invitation to pray to know if God exists. He wouldn't make a solid commitment with us, but did give us his number, so we plan to follow up in the next week and hopefully meet with him again!

Elder Campbell, Elder Gentry, and I had an awesome lesson with one of the members in our ward yesterday. He's one of the nicest people I've ever met, and has such a positive outlook on life, which is really hard to believe, because he's been through more trials than probably anyone else I know. He was the starting pitcher for a D1 college here in Illinois, and tore a muscle in his shoulder, ending all of his hopes to pitch in the minors, or even the bigs. He was driving several years later, and a drunk driver hit him, and it tore up his back really bad, so bad that he needed surgery. Months later, he was at work, and re-injured his back, again requiring surgery, after a fluke accident on the work floor. Then last week, he was in physical therapy, and ended up tearing the same muscle in his shoulder again that he did before. And while this whole thing is going on, his best friend passed away at the age of 26 a couple of weeks ago. The amazing thing about this whole story, is that he's able to see the bright side of EVERY SINGLE SITUATION. It has truly been inspiring to meet with him, because I've always thought that I had a good attitude most of the time, but I could do so much better, I have no doubt.

On a totally different topic, let me get my personal rant out of the way here. We got the Fit For The Kingdom results back this week, and I have to say, I think it's complete garbage! There was a missionary that said he achieved all but 10 of the possible points. Now I understand that there were people that probably did better than me (like there are a couple of college athletes in the mission, and there's a nutritionist as well), but I also feel like there were people that were EXTREMELY lenient when it came to giving themselves points, which is frustrating to me, because if there was a point that was even questionable on the day, I wouldn't give myself the point. That's my rant. But I'll tell you that the program isn't necessarily about the competition, it's about getting in better shape, and I was definitely able to do that! I lost five pounds in the first six weeks and have lost another pound in the last two, so it's definitely working. I've been able to control my diet more and I feel better about myself physically. I'm just excited about the next few weeks that are ahead, for Fit For The Kingdom round 2! Watch out!

I love you tons, and hope that you have a great week! Can't wait to hear more from you next week!

Elder Dallas Anderson

Monday, November 2, 2015

New Week, New Weight, New Wins

So this week we were able to teach Jose twice, and he continues to make steady progress in his reading, and he came to church this week to, so everything is pretty good for him! We taught him about the Word of Wisdom and the Law of Chastity, and he has no problems or concerns with either of them. He decided that he wants a little bit more time to study and get a gospel knowledge before he is baptized, so he moved his baptismal date back to December 19th. But we're excited for him and will continue to work with him and answer any questions that he might have!

The new missionary that is with us is named Elder Gentry, and he's from St. Geezy (S/O to my boy Kener down at Dixie!). He is actually waiting for his visa to come in so that he can serve where he got his original mission call, which is to Sweden. He's a very nice kid, and we all get along pretty well, even though the three of us have pretty different interests. It's been pretty crazy so far trying to work out our schedule, but I think we're slowly figuring everything out.

For Halloween, President Griffin wanted us to be inside our apartments by 4:00, and he had an activity for all the missionaries in the mission to have an accelerated reading of Mosiah 23-Alma 40 (about 125 pages) between the hours of 4-10 on Saturday, and then an additional four hours on Sunday. We were supposed to look for characteristics of good missionaries and keys to their success. It was pretty cool, there was a lot of stuff that I learned from those chapters, but my brain was totally fried after reading...

With the end of transfers last week, it was the end of the first Fit For The Kingdom challenge. While the results haven't been announced yet, I am fairly confident that I will place in the top 5 in the mission! The good news about the whole thing is that I lost five pounds over the course of the six weeks that it's been going on, so it really has made a difference. I've cut down on candy and unhealthy snacks about 99% (the 1% is because Mom keeps sending in gummy worms and candy in packages, even though I tell her not to), and even when YSA members take us out to eat, I eat a lot of salads and lean meats. It's been really great, and the second Fit For The Kingdom challenge started again Tuesday, so I'm looking to keep up the good eating and fitness habits! Any words of encouragement or health advice/tips would be fantastic!

We have a super-fun FHE lined up for tonight--different YSA members are setting up holes in different rooms in the church building, and we're playing mini-golf! I'mma be tearing it up tonight, holes-in-one ALL DAY! I'll let you know how it goes next week!

To answer your question about the Chi-Town fans: the funny thing about the Cubs fans out here, is everybody went NUTS when they made the NLCS--people were painting their lawns, flags were everywhere, and everyone and their dog (yes, literally dogs too) had Cubs apparel on. But it was funny how fast it all went away, and how fast the attitude changed from "this is our year" to "we're done" after they lost the first two games of the series. I felt bad for them though, I wanted them to go all the way (which is hard for a die-hard Cards fan to say).

Lando's hockey week sounds like a ton of fun, I think it's super cool that they announce the names of the players in Breckenridge, that's pretty sweet! 

I did get the Halloween package, and wanted to say thank you for that, it was awesome! Shout out to Grandma and Grandpa C too, because they sent me a package as well.

Love you!
Elder Dallas Anderson

P.S. LOL that Landon's using my Oakley backback, I see him! #CantGetThatByMe

P.P.S. We did some more service at Feed My Starving Children this week, helping pack food for kids in Haiti and Peru!

Friday, October 30, 2015

Live from ESPN 8: The Ocho

Sup everybody!

If you couldn't tell because this email is getting in late, it's transfer week. The big news is that Elder Campbell and I are staying together, which is wild, because it will be our 4th transfer together and his 6th transfer in the area. But the really big news was that President Griffin called us to train a new missionary!! I'm super excited, because I love training, but I'm pretty stressed, because the Tech Elders haven't ever trained before, and we're going to have to figure out how to work in his additional study time, while still fulfilling our duties at the mission office and attending meetings. Our schedule is going to be jam-packed, but we're going to make it work. I'm super excited!

So we had a good lesson with Jose again this week, teaching him about the gospel of Jesus Christ. He continues to read the scriptures and progress in his gospel knowledge. He wasn't able to make it for sacrament last week, but was there in time for Sunday School and Priesthood, so that was good!

We had some killer service this week, including helping two ward members move and more service at Feed My Starving Children. Here's an awesome story that came out of service: we've been to FMSC a few times now, and are starting to make friends with some of the workers. One of the full-time employees named Brian came up to us this week and commented on our Hawks shirts, so we started talking about hockey. As it turns out, his daughter works for the Blackhawks on the business side of the organization. She started working there as an intern in 2013, and is now a full-time employee. Now if that wasn't cool enough, here's the kicker: SHE HAS 2 STANLEY CUP RINGS!!! Holy cow!! I couldn't believe it! Brian showed us a picture of them, and they are legit! How cool would that be to have a couple championship rings!?

The title of this email comes from FHE on Monday, where the Naper YSA Ward played dodgeball with President Boswell (the stake president) and his family. The activity was LEGIT, so much fun! You best believe I was getting people out like it was my job, even getting a couple game-winning hits as well! It would have made Peter LeFleur  and Dwight Goodman proud! You can catch all the highlights on SC Top 10, airing on ESPN 8: "The Ocho," with commentary from ya boi Cotton! 

As far as your missionary questions go, I'll give you my two cents, you can take it for what it's worth:  For the lesson that you're going to, ask the Sisters a couple days in advance what you can study to share in the lesson. Also ask the Sisters if you can wear "street" (non-church) clothes to the lesson; I always think it's better to have the member dressed like the investigator and not like the missionaries, it seems more natural that way. During the lesson, bear testimony a few times and show your love to whoever you're going to see. The biggest thing you can do is reach out to the investigator throughout the week through a text or a phone call to see how they're doing. More than anything, just be yourself--be a friend to the investigator.

I sure love you Mom, thanks for all that you do for me! I really hope that your missionary experiences go well, and will be praying for you (well I always pray for you and the fam, but even more so now). You'll have to let me know how it goes! I hope that you have a fantastic Halloween, because I know it's your very favorite. I love you, and I'll talk to you again next week!

Elder Dallas Anderson
#NotYourAverageJoe (S/O to anyone who gets the Dodgeball pun in there)

Monday, October 19, 2015

Pumpkin Chunkin' Fun

This photo was sent in a surprise text on Friday night from a member.
Hi Mom!

So the picture you got over the weekend was taken by a member here, Scott Boswell, and he's amazing! He just got home from serving in the Fresno California Mission about 3 weeks ago. If you remember me mentioning the Boswell family in Naperville, Scott's dad is the stake president, and their family is one of my very favorites from my mission! For the stake YSA family home evening tonight, we're playing dodgeball with the Boswell family after a devotional, so that will be a ton of fun!

This week was pretty incredible for us, we had a lot of miracles happen: First, we had a lesson with Jose this week, and Scott and another member came out to that lesson with us and really helped us teach simply and clearly. We taught the Plan of Salvation, and the Spirit was so strong the whole time. Jose kept asking questions that are like straight out of Preach My Gospel, such as, "What happens to people who die without learning about the gospel?" After we had finished teaching the lesson, we asked if he had any questions, and he said no. We talked for a minute, and then he gave us this funny look and asked, "Why is baptism so important in your church?" We explained why, and you could tell the Holy Ghost was definitely working on him, because he said, "Oh, that makes sense! I see why it's so important now!" It was truly amazing, we're looking forward to helping him learn more as time goes on. He has a baptismal date set for November 28.

We had the opportunity to contact a media referral named Rosine this week, who is awesome! She comes from very difficult circumstances, and actually moved to the U.S. from Rowanda. She is a single mom, but has a very positive outlook on life and wants to know more about the gospel. In fact, she drives about an hour each week to go to church with a friend who is a member, even though there is a church about 5-10 minutes from her house. We got in contact with the friend, and he is going to take her to her home ward one week so that she can meet the members in her area. Even though she is YSA age, the family ward missionaries will teach her from now on because the family ward will be able to better meet her needs.

Elder Campbell and I tracted into a woman named Venita this week and had an awesome time teaching her about the Restoration! She also is living in some difficult circumstances, and wants to help her kids find the right path in life. Venita says that religion is a big part of her life, but that she doesn't go to church or read the Bible as much as she probably should. During the lesson, she was moved to tears at points, and she even told us at the end that she thought God was trying to teach her something and that we were sent to her. It was a really cool lesson, and the Sisters in the area should be able to help her a lot, because she's really prepared!

We actually had the opportunity to set up a booth on the College of Dupage this week! It went okay, we talked to a few people and got contact information for a couple of them. But we learned a few things that we can do better, and we have a chance to go back on Tuesday, so we're excited to make changes and hopefully see more success.

Our fun note for the week is that the YSA ward had an activity on Saturday that was awesome! Family wards have the standard "trunk or treat" night for Halloween, but that just doesn't cut it here in the YSA. We did something called "Pumpkin Chunkin'," and it was LEGIT! For those who are not familiar with pumpkin chunkin', go look it up on YouTube--two of the members in the ward build a giant slingshot, and we launched pumpkins from the slingshot across the field at the church building, it was a lot of fun!

But the fun doesn't stop there, not in the YSA Ward! We have a dodgeball activity tonight, and there is a regional YSA activity Saturday (there will be YSAs from the Milwaukee, Chicago, Naperville, Joliet, Schaumburg, Rockford, and Peoria Stakes), so we're looking forward to meeting a bunch of people there! We don't think we'll be able to do that activity (they're going to a corn maze), but we'll probably join them for lunch.

Anyways, that was our week, it was pretty crazy, but a lot of really neat things happened! I hope that everything is going well for everyone back home! Let me know if there is anything that I can do for any of you, I appreciate all of your thoughts and prayers, and I love hearing from you all!

Elder Dallas Anderson

P.S. This is a picture of our ceiling fan--we taped glow sticks to the edge of it after the pumpkin chunkin' activity and watched it spin 'round and 'round. LOL, it's about the most fun you can have as a missionary.

Monday, October 12, 2015

How to Deal with Driving, Dissing, and Decadent Dining

This week was crazy busy for us--there were 4 zone training meetings this week (Tuesday-Friday), and then Stake Conference was on Saturday and Sunday. The main purpose of the zone meetings was to install and introduce the Driver Accountability Program to the mission. What the DAP program entails is a device called Tiwi was installed in all of the mission vehicles. Tiwi tracks your driving and will yell at you for turning too hard, stopping or starting too hard, or speeding. Luckily for me, I've always been one to drive the speed limit, so Tiwi doesn't phase my driving. While at each of the training meetings, Elder Campbell and I had to audit and update all of the iPads throughout the mission, which can be stressful under a time restraint. The toughest meeting was on Thursday, where we had to work with approximately 65-70 iPads in a 5 hour time slot. It was really tough, but we got it done (just not quite in the allotted time).

On Sunday night, Elder Campbell and I tracted into a man who was very antagonistic towards the Church. He went on and on for about 15 minutes about how Joseph Smith is a follower of the devil, how there is no physical evidence that the Book of Mormon is true, and how we, as young men, need to search for "real truth" for ourselves. It was not the most pleasant experience to say the least, but I learned something from it. Elder Engler taught me to look for a reason for why everything happens. Coincidences don't happen in the Lord's work, so I found myself asking why we happened to come across this man that wanted to tear down our faith. 8-12 months ago, if that same situation would have happened, I would have been shocked, and my testimony probably would have been shaken. But Sunday night, I realized that I could have stood in that doorstep for another hour or two taking all of the blows he was taking at me and at the Church. My testimony was unshaken in those moments. Looking back just a few minutes after our encounter with that man, I realized that maybe I've grown on my mission a lot more than I might have thought, and I've developed a testimony stronger than I might have realized. It was a cool moment for me.

Probably the highlight of the week was last Monday, when we went to Chama Gaucha with the Assistants! I lost like 4 points in the Fit For the Kingdom challenge, but it was worth it! #SteakForDays As far as a FFTK update goes, I'm still dominating--eating my fruits and vegetables, drinking lots of water, passing up desserts, and ordering salads at restaurants. We're about halfway done, but I'm going to step it up and finish strong!

That's crazy about the team in Aspen, they sound crazy good. I hope that Lando and Breven are having a good time though playing for the Rampage. Super cool that @therealtender_58 got that S/O on Twitter, good for him! He's still got nothing on me though when it comes to lifting though.

Hope you all have a great week!

Elder Dallas Anderson

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Let's Hear It For Hump Day!

Hey Mom!

Thanks a ton for the halftime package, I really appreciated it! The SportsCenter pennant is super cool, and the Giordano's gift card was sweet too! The CD is awesome!

Big news: ELDER CAMPBELL AND I FINALLY FOUND A PLACE TO DO SERVICE!! There is an organization called "Feed My Starving Children," which works to send food to kids in third-world countries. We were able to spend a couple of hours on Tuesday making food packets to be able to ship to Africa. The group we were in made enough packets to send over 100 boxes. It was a lot of fun, and we worked with some kids that were from a high school in Kankakee, so it was cool to work alongside them. A cool tradition that "Feed My Starving Children" does is that at the end of the packing session, everyone gathers as a group, and you say a prayer over the boxes to bless the food that it will get to the kids safely, and that it will strengthen the bodies of the kids that receive it. I thought that was pretty cool!

The Lord gave us another cool miracle tracting this week--Sunday night we met a man named Percy, who let us right into his home before we even introduced who we were. Percy and his family are from Ghana, and he's awesome! We taught him the Restoration, and have a handoff lesson with the family ward missionaries this upcoming Sunday. We were also able to see Clemonte this week, and he told us about tryouts that he's going to be doing this fall for other semi-pro teams in Ontario and Indiana.

Conference this week was awesome! My a few of my favorite talks were given by Sister Marriott and Elder Keetch, as well as the talks given by President Eyring and President Uchtdorf in the Priesthood Session. I thought the Sunday Afternoon Session was the best overall. But my very favorite talk was given by Elder Hales. I loved how he talked about how the decisions we make now effect our eternity. Maybe it's because I'm still young and have a bunch of big decisions coming up (education, career, marriage, etc.), but his talk really hit home with me. A lot of the messages in Conference seemed to tell the Saints that we need to step up our game, because the world is going to keep getting worse, and we need to be ready for bad times ahead. Elder Hales talk helped my get a vision of who I want to be and where I want to be in just a few years from now.

Well Mom, I love you, and hope that you had a good week! Can't wait to talk to you again next week!

Elder Dallas Anderson

Elder Dallas and Clemonte