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!)