"Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life." 2 Nephi 31:20

Monday, January 21, 2013

Learning In A Different Way

First off, the mission is a place to learn. Not many times you learn them the way you would like to. As I was stuck in my house one day I decided to try to downsize the few things I have--who knows why, maybe I just got bored. That is when a former pet peeve came out. Maybe some of you have not known this about me but I absolutely hate things that are past their expiration date. As I was using a few things from my first aid kit to help out my foot I noticed they didn't give the same kind of results that tehy formerly did with injuries in sports. That may just be because when I used them befoer they weren't nine years past their expiration date. Mother, I have a bone to pick with you. But luckily I still love you. I really hate things that are expired. I threw out quite a few things. It was kind of fun.

Mexico is a different place. I quickly realized that what I needed was a walking boot. Unfortunately, I live in Southern Mexico. Those don't exist. So, with my half-cast, Jesus sandals, and a few extra socks I propped up my foot to the point where it had all the goods of a walking boot. Unfortunately when I got that smart I was just finishing up my rest period. Someday soon I will be back to jump roping in the morning, but for now I have enough strength to walk around. I walked across a bridge to cut my hair! That was greatly needed. Not in my eyes, but I'm sure in the eyes of my mother. Especially since an apostle is coming. She would be proud. 

Since I stayed home this week, well, not a whole lot happened. I could tell you about how the mosquitos got us pretty good, but that is nothing new. I was freezing cold though. It rained for the first time consecutive days here on the island. For that long without sun it got down to 65 degrees! I got up in the middle of the night to go the the bathroom and before I got back to my bed I was shivering like crazy. No fever either, it was really just that cold. I would die in snow. 

Elder Pack screams in his sleep. This week he yelled at me for hitting his bed--which I did and do often, but I played it off well. I have found that it is the best way to wake him up enough to where he stops snoring so much but not quite wake him up fully. Just slap the post of his bed with a sandal. He never remembers any of it in the morning. One night he woke me up because he screams in his sleep. This week he just screamed "Moose!" randomly at 2 AM. Maybe he is just dreaming of home, cause there aren't any of those here.

This week I'll just share an experience I had talking with a man in his house while he babysat me. He has had a certain pain in his side for quite some time. He had received quite a few blessings to help him to recover from his affliction. He even asked us, the missionaries, for a blessing once. All this time he was worries he had cancer. Scared to death actually. He had a family. 

--Keep in mind from my story that Mexico does not have the level of health care that you would think. I couldn't find crutches on the island (a little late now). So this is a real concern. So, he wanted to get a Priesthood Blessing to find out what exactly he had.

This left me thinking. Well, could the priesthood really do that? Well, if it really is all that it is cracked up to be, why not? And that is where I will deviate a little. The priesthood, according to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the authority to act in God's name. A lot of power, no? What unfortunately happens often is that we, as members of the Church forget this simple truth. It is a great responsibility--the priesthood. Why don't we use it more often? The power of God in our hands? But then I remembered to a few other examples. Which impulses me to restate that it is the authority to act in God's name. It is not the power to bend God's will to ours. Still I have much to learn in this aspect and I'm sure we'll come back to this topic.

As for this less-active member. We were not impulsed to tell him what he may have had at that time. The same happened on two other different occasions that he received a blessing from his brother. All three times however, he was given the same instructions of in what specific way he was to care for his body. 

The morning he recieved the 3rd blessing he passed a kidney stone. Rough stuff but he was thankful that his health has now improved due to the council given to him by the Lord. The key here was that he did not receive what he wanted, but he did get exactly what he needed. For that he is alive and kickin' as the gringos say.

I would kick too, but I'll take better care of my foot. Until next week. 

Love you all. Take care of yourselves. And throw away everything in your house that is expired.

Elder Andrews


gringos = US Citizens/North Americans; this comes from the Mexican American War when the US Troops wore green uniforms and the Mexicans yelled phonetically in Spanish "¡Grin go!" meaning "Green, go away!"

Monday, January 14, 2013

Humility and Strength

[Some explanations of Spanglish have been added in brackets].

So, I kind of tend to keep most of my afflictions to myself where I can. So I don't worry you guys too much. Many of them pass after a few days just cause Mexico does some weird things to your body. But, don't get discouraged from the story you are about to read. I share it so that you can see the struggle, and then how great the help of the Lord was shortly after.

And so it begins. Last week. Saturday, as I was helping with a baptism in another area--remember, when I was District Leader--an investigator pulled me aside. His name is José Roberto Martinez Zapata. He is the boyfriend of a girl in my ward. He is 22. She is about the same age. He had been coming to my ward since right after I got here to the island. So, more or less, since September. Soon after that he told me that one day I would baptize him. I told him that I wouldn't, because he lives outside of our area. Which means if he got baptized in our ward he would not be able to progress, not be able to have a calling, just be able to come. This may sound a bit odd to people that are not of the Church. But it is a real problem here in Mexico to have people be baptized in areas where they don't actually pertain [belong] to. If they stop coming for a little bit, and it turns out they need help in the future, it is very hard for the Church to find them to help. The Lord's house is a house of order. I'm here to invite others to Christ, not to baptize as many people as I can find to get wet. Missionary work, when done properly, is one of the most powerful things there is on this earth.

So, he pulled me aside. This is after he attended the baptism of little girl that Elder Pack and I had. After that baptism he came up to us and said he really wanted to get baptized. That he was willing to do whatever it took to be baptized. So, we had him call the other missionaries in the Carmen Ward, and he just introduced himself and said, "...and I want to get baptized next week." Of course the other missionary went silent because that never happens. José Roberto had practically already been a member for 4 months in my ward on and off (with work and all) so he had met all the requirements for baptism, it was just a matter of making sure he fully understood everything we believe (the basics) and that he was willing to live accordingly. He flew through it all. 

So, he pulled me aside that Satuday night and reminded me of the day he had told me I would baptize him over 4 months ago. He then invited me to baptize him in the other ward. Although I was not the missionary of that ward, he could choose any missionary or worthy priesthood holder to perform the ordinance. I gratefully accepted the opportunity. Although in the back of my mind I was scared to death since I felt like my time on the island may have passed already. We were to find out the transfers the next day, Sunday. I just smiled at him and said I would love to.

Transfers came and as you know, I stayed. Problem solved, no? But Sunday morning as I got out of bed I fell back down immediately. Something had happened to my ankle/foot. I could not walk. I could not support my own weight. After some testing and some prayer we were able to make it to church at 8 AM on the bus and all went well. I went a week walking until I could walk no more. Finally I was sent to take some x-rays after we stayed home on our preparation day with my foot elevated (no fun). We went to get the x-rays and nothing was broken. But a few of my bones were not in their correct places. No wonder it hurt to walk. After consulting with a few doctors I had been ordered to 10 days of rest. Death in the mission. 

10 days of rest. How could I baptize him if I was not allowed to get up unless I was going to the bathroom? Well, after some convincing I cleared it with the doctor that I could still baptize him. She made sure I could take off my cast so I didn't get it wet. When José Roberto heard I was ordered to rest 10 days he wondered the same thing of how? It really doesn't matter who baptizes you, no, but he had been praying that I would be able to. So what did he do? He started praying for my health. He even fasted for me that I would have the strength to baptize him. Have you ever heard of an investigator praying and fasting for a missionary before? I haven't. He is something else, and for the time we have spent together he has become a friend.

So, the morning of his baptism. I woke up. But I could not get up. I could not get out of bed. Because I could not walk I had hurt other parts of my body like my back, and elbows for how I tried to get around with my hurt foot. How could I baptize someone if I couldn't even move? Being a former lacrosse captain and sports fanatic, I could always rely on my own strength, but in the mission field I have learned better. I was still determined to baptize him if I could because I knew how disanimated [sad or disappointed] he got when he heard I might not be able to do it. I promised him I would. Elder Pack helped me get my clothes and stuff ready to go, our Bishop came to get us and we found ourselves at the baptism. I was able to limp enough to the car with a little help. I even practiced the baptism (kind of) on Elder Pack before we left the house and I dropped him. Whoops.

I was scared to death that I would drop José Roberto and ruin the whole baptism, but I knew he wanted me, so I just decided to do everything I could to make it happen. We made it to his baptism and I was there sitting by him, everything was the same. Could I really do it? But the baptism came. Before entering the water I explained very well how it should happen as a means to get as much help as I could. 

But here is where the miracle happened. As I was saying the words of the baptism I looked him in the eye. In his eye there was a certain love that I will never be able to describe. More the love of a child and willingness to follow whatever you told them. The purest charity that you could imagine. In that moment, right before he went into the water I could no longer feel my body. My concern turned more to if I was making everything as spiritual as I could for him. Was he understanding everything? Did I explain it to him well enough? He went down, and straight back up. Everything went normal. He was fine. I didn't drop him. How did I not drop him? When he came back out of the water he gave me the biggest hug you could imagine and said thanks. 

There is no way I could have done what I did that day without the strength of the Lord. I could not even stand on my own just an hour before the baptism. The next day in church he commented to the other Elders how happy he was that I was able to baptize him. 

As for José Roberto, he is set on the right track. He has so much potential and so much in front of him. He will be a great leader in the church. Especially here is Mexico. He is something special. He will make a difference. 

May we all rely on the strength of the Lord.

Love you all,
Elder Andrews

José Roberto Martinez Zapata and Elder Andrews
Elder Andrews' messed up foot (the left foot...)
Elder Andrews and José Roberto Martinez Zapata.

Monday, January 7, 2013


First, read Alma 7:5.

I read that scripture about a month ago and it rang true. [More so] in Spanish. Who knows why. If it were not for the afflictions I have been called to bear I would not have the love I have for people here. Just something I felt I should share. Cause I know the suffering will continue.

How? This week I got to take care of poor Elder Pack. He woke up in the morning with a sore throat. But a bad one he gets chronically and requires antibiotics. That day was New Year's day. So, of course every doctor's office that gringos were allowed in was shut down. That just made him a bit frustrated, as I'm sure it would with anyone.

So that's how I became District Leader in the first 6 months. He soon lost his voice because we couldn't get him his medicine. It was gone for about 4 days. So, this week I was able to learn a lot since this also meant that I had to teach every part of every lesson, each day. (Don't worry, he got his voice back, so I'm not District Leader anymore. As of today.) It was rough, especially to keep him from hating himself because, imagine, walking around all day in the sun, then sitting in hot building and not being able to say a word the whole time. He had to have been bored. But, he is still trying to work hard, so he pushed through it so I could do something still. What really took a toll on us was when it rained so hard the streets flooded. We got completely soaking wet running home to shut the window. That just made Elder Pack more sick.

But, here I am on the island still going. We got our transfers today. Elder Pack and I will be staying and our house of 4 will be ALL gringos. Should be interesting. I will be helping Elder Pack "die" as they say since this is his last transfer. Everyone in the field right now got a two week extension so this transfer will be 8 weeks instead of the normal 6. If  you follow common knowledge I will stay at least one tranfer after Elder Pack leaves to teach the area which means I would leave my first area after my first birthday in the mission. Roughly April 15th. The mission is interesting. Always something going on to throw you a curve. But adjustment is good. You can't have things your way. Especially when you aren't in your own country. 

Elder Pack and I had a scheduled appointment to paint a house of a local member who had broken his foot. When we got there they decided to cancel! I'm learning more about appreaciation. Maybe it was there way of showing it, so we could go focus on something else. But we really just lost all of that time changing again. There are so many things that people willingly sacrifice for you every day to make your life better. The question is, are you thankful for them? 

I hope I can show my appreciation for you guys and your support. But, we are always in debt to Someone who sacrificed all for us. I love a talk by Elder Henry B. Eyring "Act In All Diligence".

"...Whenever I feel like I have just finished a hard task and feel I deserve a break, I give to myself this rallying cry. Remember Him."

May you all be good examples for those around you. Whether you be "Mormon" or not, if you have read this far its because we had some type of close relation--on one level or another. And I expect you to be the best version of yourself you could possibly be. 

I love you all, and I only hope and pray for the best for you all.

Until next week,
Elder Caleb O. Andrews


Transfers are when missionaries are reorganized in the several areas in their respective missions.
A District Leader is the leader of a small group of missionaries in a Zone. Missions are made of several Zones.
To "die" on the mission is to have finished the two years (for men) and 1.5 years (for women).


gringos = US Citizens/North Americans; this comes from the Mexican American War when the US Troops wore green uniforms and the Mexicans yelled phonetically in Spanish "¡Grin go!" meaning "Green, go away!"

Elder Andrews and Elder Pack before a baptism.
Elder Andrews and Elder Pack after running home in the rain to close their window. 
Other missionaries soaked from the rain.