Monday, February 20, 2017

Week 4: Operation Andersen

Subject: Week 4: Operation Andersen
Date: Mon, 20 Feb 2017 14:32:15 -0600
From: Brett Hogg

So last week there was a citizenship conference thing here in Plano, and a member signed us up to have a table there to kind of advertise our free english class. It turned out to be a great place to find new people to teach the gospel to as well! One of the people at this conference was a lady that ran a non-profit immigration center thing. It's like a small office where they help you fill out the necessary forms and stuff to help and get your citizenship. Well we talked to her and now we help out a day or two a week over there helping people fill out forums and stuff, we're also the only white people lol. The lady that runs it loves us and took us to lunch and always tells us that we were sent there by God to help them. There's a waiting room that's always packed with hispanics every morning, waiting to talk to the people that help them with their cases, and the other morning she asked us to say a prayer at the start of the day (its kind of a religious place too, it has Baptist in the name but it's not connected to any church or anything). So Elder P stood up to give it and then everyone in the room stood up too, it was kind of funny.

(In our church, it's customary for the person giving the prayer in a meeting to stand.. everyone usually remains seated.  Too cute!)

This week Elder P has also been super sick with something fierce.  His eyes have been pretty bloodshot and he's been blowing his nose constantly and been having head aches. He's been jokingly saying I gave him cancer. Well it's a rule here for areas with cars, to not drive them at least one day a week. So this past Thursday we biked everywhere, we figure we biked at least 20 miles and it was killing me, but especially killing Elder P. We tried to ask members for rides (we had someone lined up for later in the night,  but they got sick), but nobody was answering their phones.  So for our one appointment we biked across the city of Plano, and knocked on the door, exhausted, and they said they weren't feeling well, and to come back next week. It wasn't a total waste,  we visited an old investigator in the same complex for a couple minutes before biking home. I'm sure someone, somewhere, was blessed for it.

On Tuesday a call came down the line, all the way from the top. Elder Neil L. Andersen was coming to the mission, and for our meeting with him, he had specifically requested a large roley-around whiteboard, and we were tasked at finding one. We immediately jumped in the car to check our building, and nothing. Only chalkboards. So we called the district and one of the other buildings in Plano (there are 3) had one. So we told the APs and they picked it up.
Mission Apostolic Whiteboard: Accomplished.

The next day it came down the line he wanted a lapel mic. We called our resident tech guru (Bro. N) and sure enough he had one. We're not sure why the APs where calling us about these things, he was going to be in the Richardson building and there's other companionships that aren't any farther away. It's probably because of our awesome faith and willingness to help an Apostle of the Lord, and our humility.  (He makes me giggle.)

Friday was the meeting with Elder Andersen and that was cool.  We were divided into groups based on our zones and got to take a group photo with him. Then we lined up and got to shake his hand as we entered the chapel. He was traveling with an area seventy Elder Wilson (i think?) and a general authority seventy Elder Pearson. So now I've shaken two Apostles' hands (the other, Elder Oaks when he visited Milwaukee).

He talks like dad at the pulpit, one hand in his pocket, the other gesturing and moving his papers. His talk was almost entirely about Christ. He spoke mostly about making sure we sure up our testimony of Jesus Christ here on our mission, and essentially challenged us to memorize 10 scriptures from the New Testament and 10 from the Book of Mormon, that personally testify of Christ, that way they "resonate in your soul for the rest of your life." He said you can't really be a disciple of Jesus Christ if you break his commandments (he said Law of Chastity as an example). Sure you can believe in him, but only at a surface level, for if you have a deep understanding and belief in him (that's where the memorized scriptures come in) you wouldn't break the commandments. Faith is alive, he said, if it's not growing, it's shrinking. 

He also mentioned that the First Presidency and The Twelve are worried that Christ and the Atonement are being mentioned separately and talked about as two separate things. He also said "I hope you don't argue with people that believe in Christ, celebrate with them, and if they say we believe in a different Christ, tell them you celebrate that they believe in their Christ." (We're not supposed to argue with anybody for the record btw lol)

He mentioned earlier on that he was going to get to specific stuff about our mission, but we're pretty sure he ran out of time (the meeting went way over), because he didn't really get into any numbers or anything like he hinted he would. He didn't even use our whiteboard! He was in meetings with President Taylor all the last couple days so I'm sure he knows what he was going to say.

After the meeting, we all stood up and he and the rest of the stand walked out and he said "goodbye, we love you!" Afterwards Elder E-B got up on the stand (he's an AP, so he runs meetings sometimes) to announce one last thing, and it was all quite and somber in there after Elder Andersen walked out, and Elder E-B gets up on the stand and says "That was awesome", it sounds stupid trying to explain it but it made everyone crack up hahah

Then he had an adult fireside the next night that was broadcast to 14 stake centers in the Dallas area, but the stake building he broadcasted from was ours! We only got to go though if we were bringing investigators. We had an investigator there and two less actives. We realized nobody set up translation though, so Elder P did it best he could. He was still crazy sick but he got to sit up on the far end of the stand and he translated for an Apostle. I sat in the back waiting for our people to get there so I could give them the headphones. I probably very well could have sat in the back rows of the stand but I didn't want to have to come down off the stand, and walk all the way to the back in the middle of Elder Andersen talking. During that meeting he talked about families and how important it was to guide our children in the way of Christ.

Oh yea! I think he accidentally told us he's a Republican lol! There's a senior couple in our mission that he knows personally, and he was talking about how callings or careers or sides you choose in whatever really don't matter to the Lord, only that you remain righteous, have faith and follow the commandments and how awesome it was that they were serving out here. I don't remember how exactly he said it, but he brought up Harry Reid as an example of a church member who people don't agree with but still does what he's supposed to, and that's what matters, and I think he didn't want to get political so he just kind of said "well, anyway, we love him because he's a member" and everyone kind of laughed because it accidently sounded like he was saying 'we love him, even if he is a democrat' lol. And during the fireside he said last time he was in the Dallas area they met with Rex Tillerson, who now, is Secretary of State, and he said he doesn't know about the politics of it all, but they found him to be a very honorable man. I guess Rex told them he was worried that things like the Law of Chastity weren't being taught in churches very well around here.

We had 2 baptisms on Valentines day (9 and 11 years old) and 2 more this coming Saturday! I did the confirmation for the 11 year old, in English, because even though his mother speaks almost entirely spanish, he knows almost none.

I got the pants! Thank you so much, they came on Friday morning, both of them! The Nutella was great, I've had it with breakfast everyday so far haha. I also got Aunt Carrie's groundhogs day card lol

It sounds like you had a good Valentines day and birthday, so that's cool, wish i could have been there! When will Aunt Lisa learn?? Haha (Aunt Lisa fell last year and broke her nose.. and on Valentine's night she fell and thinks she did it again!) I wouldnt mind getting some vacuum packed cookie dough here in the summer haha. (I told him I got a FoodSaver vacuum-sealer for my birthday.) I got Cliff & Diane's (neighbors) card! That was awesome. I got another one, I'll check when I get home who it is from.

It's been kind of weird weather here lately, it's usually kind of cool in the mornings and by mid day it usually gets to like the 70s, and t other day . Got up to 80 something. The youth here are actually going to Nauvoo this week! It's not curling but it's still pretty cool haha  (My niece got to learn how to do Curling for their youth activity in Northern Minnesota.)

The Spanish is pretty much the same across the board as far other countries go, they just have different accents. For me right now I can't really tell a huge difference but Elder Pattee  (like Elder Huber could) can usually tell, at least, if their from Mexico, another central American country, or South America. One thing you can always hear a lot is pronouncing Y's like English J's. So instead of Yo, they pronounce it Jo. It kind of hard to explain. I'm not sure where that's from, but it definitely not Mexican. I'll report back when I can really start to hear the different accents haha 

Anyway I'll try emailing anything else I think of!

Love, Elder Hogg

Picture one is my view of Elder Anderson during the fireside.  I gave up my slightly closer seats to investigators.

The other is a giant chicken fried stake from a diner place here that a member took us to for breakfast this morning. He said it's kind of a thing they're known for.  .

 Also me on a borrowed bike. 

And baptism photos.

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