"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, July 14, 2014

Get Out of the Way

In a final attempt to shine a light as to what it is that we do as missionaries, I will try to detail a few experiences I have seen along my mission. I especially dedicate this email to those who are hesitant in their decision as to whether or not they should serve a mission.

Starting the mission I had no idea what to expect. For one reason or another I quickly realized I had no idea what being a missionary was really like. As I started the mission and had sensed my neglect of asking about the missions of my brothers, brothers-in-law, father, grandparents, cousins, and just about everyone else. It started to hit me as my oldest brother William asked me a week before leaving on the mission on a road trip from his home in Arkansas towards New Orleans. He turned to me and asked, "So, what are your expectations for your mission." I was caught off-guard. I had absolutely no idea what to respond. After thinking a bit, I responded, "Well, if nothing else, I'll come back learning Spanish." I could tell he wasn't too impressed with my answer, but it was the only thing I could muster out at the time.

Not only until I got to Mexico did I read in the beginning of the Missionary Handbook a quote from Brigham Young that said, "If you go on a mission to preach the Gospel with lightness and frivolity in your hearts, looking for this and that, and to learn what is in the world, you will go and return in vain..." I didn't feel like I was there for the wrong reasons, but what exactly was I looking for? Baptisms? People to teach? As I looked outside I could see there were plenty of seemingly uninterested people all around me. How was I to know what to do?

Take a few moments to think of what you think a missionary does. What kind of things fill up your day? I thought, eat, walk, preach, repeat. What else is there? I felt kind of like Prince Derek frm the Swan Princess and getting the same reaction from the princess, saying, "What do you mean what else is there? Of course there is more!" If you look very superficially you will see the boring routine, but the magic is is the moment. From outside you will never feel the same as you do within.

I still remember the blind Elder that showed up to the MTC that Elder Milovidov helped get around and that did everything that was required of him and accepted things as they were. I remember several of my companions helping me when I was myself helpless. The mission is about helping others and forgetting about yourself. In my first interview with my Branch President in the MTC I hardly remember what was said. But one thing I do remember. He told me as I walked in, "Elder, these next two years aren't about you." He continued to explain that if I could focus on others I would never have a personal problem for the next two years. Shortly after, just leaving the MTC, I turned to a good friend of mine who was a teacher there at the time, Pat Matherson, and he gave me what he said the best advice he ever got, "Just get out of the way."

What do you mean get out of the way? I didn't even know I was blocking anything. What do you mean, Pat? He wouldn't tell me.

As time has gone on, it would seem that all has worked together to help me lay aside some of my own personal cares to help someone else. That the mission makes you yourself much more humble that you have a higher capacity to serve others. As we put our will with the Lord's, miracles can occur. Each day as we become more like Christ, we will better serve the people around us. I hesitate to use myself as an example, but if you can see anything of good report in what I have done; may it bless you. May my example be joined with those of many others, and with that of our Savior, Jesus Christ, to benefit every person in partaking of the many blessings of this gospel.

"Condemn me not because of mine imperfection, neither my father, because of his imperfection, neither them who have written before him; but rather give thanks unto God that he hath made manifest unto you our imperfections, that ye may learn to be more wise than we have been." Mormon 9:31

"wherefore, I conclude this record, declaring that I have written according to the best of my knowledge, by saying that the time passed away with us, and also our lives passed away like as it were unto us a dream" Jacob 7:26

For the last time,
Elder Andrews

P.S. Last week was Elder Hernandez' birthday. The mission forget to put his name in the announcements and he got really sad. But here it is tradition to throw flour and eggs and confetti at the birthday kid, so, with him right next to me as always I was able to help organize 4 different surprise parties with the help of the members, and he said it was his best birthday ever. Enjoy the picture after we got back from playing soccer in the morning.

Elder Hernadez covered with flour, eggs, and confetti for his birthday!
Elder Andrews enjoying the view after a morning of soccer.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Extra Innings

News is, yes, the earthquake did hit the mission this morning at 6:20 AM, and it was pretty big. Good news is that we were playing soccer so we didn't feel a thing and there was nothing to fall on us while on a field (nothing fell down anyway). But, really only the people that were standing still felt it. So, even if I would have been asleep, you don't feel those things in your hammock. :)

So, this week I'll just mention what has gone on with Jorge, one of our latest miracles--the one we invited to Stake Conference and showed up all by himself. We went back to visit him to follow up on his prayer (we had just invited him to pray to know if what we were teaching him was true or not). He told us he found it hard to pray every morning and night, and I thought, "Great! He's already trying to say his prayers and we just told him to pray once." Keep in mind that this is the man who until last week had not entered into any church whatsoever. But then it got better. He said, "so, if I feel like if I'm going to forget, I just do them in the afternoon." ... Is there really not someone with a hidden camera fiming this? Sometimes in my mission the responses come too perfect, or the ridiculous situations just too unreal to be true.

We also had a bittersweet ending with another investigator named Daniel. He is 16 years old and the brother of Lucía one of the people that have been baptized in my time here. They've had some huge family struggles, and Daniel came here to find work, but to no avail. So, he was going to go back to the small town and get what work he could to help support his other 5 younger siblings. We had just gotten him adjusted to Allende and the church. When he got here he didn't believe in God. But he left with a strong testimony of the Book of Mormon and prayer. We were able to take him for a walk on the beach and we taught him what little we could the night before he very abruptly left to go home. As we were leaving him, he turned to me and said, "You know, ever since I met you guys, I kinda thought it would be cool to be a missionary." What do you say to a teenager like that? I tried to do all I could for him, but there was nothing I could do for him, as much as I would have wished for him to stay. Seeing him leave without getting baptized, and not knowing when or if he would ever make it back leaves you wondering if things really can be ok for a person like that. Especially when you know the nearest church is 2 hours away from his house and he already doesn't have money. So, I looked and Elder Hernandez, then to Daniel, and we said, "Well, today you are going to be a missionary." And he went out his last day with us to teach the gospel.

Can we always be sure that it really is going to be alright? You can't really say that it will, unless you have a firm faith in Christ; if you have a bright hope that His promises will be fulfilled. That we may each do our part, so that everything will be alright.

Elder Andrews

Note: The subject of this e-mail likely stems from the fact that Elder Andrews is now serving beyond the expected 24 months.