Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Week 10

Buenos dias! Estoy en WASHINGTON! WOOT!

It is SO beautiful here, I can't believe it! It's like Payson times a million! Everywhere is super green and it is cloudy for most of the day, which is sweet! It does rain a lot here, but it's a drizzle if anything, nothing too big. Surprisingly, it has been sunny the past two days, people say that almost NEVER happens - haha - especially coming so close to the winter months. That gives my companion and I more people to contact though, so I'm fine with that!  :)

Elder Robles is my new companion and trainer. He is from Guatemala, so is fluent in Spanish and can help me when I need it (phew). He is super funny and is very humble as well, a VERY good first trainer if I may say so myself.  ;)   I'm glad that I have the opportunity to be companions with him OUT IN THE FIELD! He says that my Spanish has gotten better in the 6 days that I've been here, so I'm glad for that. I've been trying as hard as I can to speak in Spanish ONLY, but sometimes I need to say some things in English. I never would have thought I would have learned so much Spanish in under 2 and a half months time! Crazy!! My first area out here in Washington is Marysville/Arlington. Didn't Doctor/Brother Brooks say that he lived here or something while he had a practice in Washington? I'm not exactly sure, can't remember the details.

Okay, this is random, but I think Spanish is infesting my brain because I had to go and fix 20 grammatical errors, should this be a good or a bad thing? I don't know... Anyway, the Spanish speaking missionaries get to cover more area, so we get a CAR!

Smiley from millan.net

VROOM VROOM! It has it's ups and downs, such as me not having to ride a bike :D, but probably going to gain weight :(.

So I went in the MTC weighing 166 pounds, and guess how much I am now? 174! But no worries, it's all muscle...*cough*. Elder Robles and I get to go to the gym every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday which is awesome. I spend most of the time jumproping, running on the treadmill, and lifting various weights. I need to cut down on my Buddha belly as dad would call it.  Luckily though, I haven't gained a belly at all. I was told in the MTC that jumproping everyday for 10-20 minutes in the morning will cut down on your gut, and what do you know, it's true! Hope to stay Buddha belly free on my mission, but who knows, the Hispanic people feed you TONS! We had 3 dinners this past week and it was INSANE how much food there was! I couldn't believe it! They stacked my plate with like 4 pieces of fish, some salad, and rice, after I finished it all and was dead full, they asked if I wanted more. I wanted to say "no" but Elder Robles said it's rude if you say you wouldn't want seconds; let's just say I almost die every time I go to a members house to have dinner.

Smiley from millan.net

Another plus out in the field, AN HOUR OF EMAIL! Half an hour was NO time at all to tell you about how things are going, but I am absolutely loving Washington! People say it's really humid, but I really don't feel any different. I just love the 60-70 degree weather, and it's only dropping! President Wilson said that this winter it should be snowing anywhere from 4 to 8 inches in Marysville (which is where my apartment is), so I am SUPER EXCITED! Also, did President Wilson call you like the weekend before I flew out here? He told me you did and if so, AWESOME! He is such a humble man and even though I haven't known him for even a week, it is crazy how much he has helped me. When I first flew in he asked me if I had any questions and I asked him, "How can I be the absolute best missionary for my Father in Heaven?" He simply replied, "Love the work, love the people, and love the gospel, if you do those three things, you will be a success in the eyes of our Heavenly Father." I've been taking that to heart and trying my best out here! It's really hard work, and I get tired quite easy, but I keep pushing through and I can see blessings given to me and my investigators! It is SOOO great!  :)

Elder Robles and I have 5 progressing investigators (which means they keep commitments and have been taught at least two lessons). These Spanish names KILL me! I'm normally good with names, but only AMERICAN ONES! Hopefully, in time, I'll be able to do better with the names haha :). Yesterday, two of our investigators came to church! Woot woot! It was so exciting to see their faces of amusement and confusion, LOL.  :)  I remember my first time to church too haha :). I'm so happy to share this message with other people, I just wish people would listen and not slam their door in my face. Oh well, for those that listen receive blessings!

I have some pretty neat pictures that I had another Elder take (he stole the window seat, grrr!) while we flew into Washington. There are two pictures of the Cascade Mountains (I believe...) and they are B-E-A-UTIFUL! I've been taking some pictures here and there out in the field, but have been slacking a bit, I'll pick it up... I just don't want to look like a tourist!  :P

For Preparation Day today, I'm probably going to be playing some sports or something, not too sure. Normally you go shopping, clean the apartment, study, and write letters to your friends and family, so we'll see what goes on today. I'm hoping we can play sports with the district today.

I hope that you are all doing great, I love you so much and hope everyone is getting along well back at home. I'm super happy to be here to share His word and gospel among the people here in Washington. I wonder how long it takes to receive letters from Washington to Arizona, any idea? Anyway, thanks so much for letting me be out here.  :)

Love you all,
Elder Alex J Annand

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Alex is now in Washington!

Hello Everyone!

Alex was able to call home this morning and speak with all of us for a few moments before boarding his plane for the flight to Seattle, Washington.  Hearing his voice was so comforting!  He has such a strong conviction in serving this mission well, and is so passionate in sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ. 

Thank you for sending letters to Alex.  They help him tremendously!  I've updated the mailing information page found above with his new address for quick reference, and it's here below:

Mailing Address for Letters -
Elder Alexander Annand
Washington Everett Mission
P.O. Box 13390
Mill Creek, WA 98082-1390

Mailing Address for Packages -
Elder Alexander Annand
Washington Everett Mission
16124 35th Ave SE
Mill Creek, WA 98012

Although the district he will be serving in is quite large, I did a search on Mill Creek, Washington and it's about 20 miles north of Seattle.  Check out the average monthly temps - the high today is 63 degrees!

It's so wonderfully GREEN there!

Wow, the snow is so beautiful...

I found this random photo of a water wheel mill located in Mill Creek.

And to close this update, here's a photo of the Seattle Washington Temple -

Alex mentioned that his Preparation Day looks to be switching to Monday's, so we should be getting an update from him soon.  Thanks for visiting today!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Week 8

Hello everybody!

Well, it's my LAST Preparation Day before I head out to the field! I CANNOT believe it! I am scared, worried, excited, nervous, happy, sad, and more all at the same time! I don't know why, but it's like I'm leaving my home all over again! The MTC really grew on me and I learned so much from this 9 week stay here. I have been so blessed! I have learned SO much of the Spanish language in just 2 months time, there is no way I would have been able to do this without the Lord's help. He is all I can thank. I am so thankful to be serving Him and to have this opportunity to go out for two years and do what He wants me to do.

There's a quote from the devotional this past Tuesday that Elder Evans of the third quorum of the Seventy said and that was, "This work is the most important work that we can be doing right now. You are in the right place, and are here at the right time for the people wherever you have been called to. The Lord will not let you fail, He will only let you succeed."

I love it. Like I said, I am just so grateful to be here! I know it must be tough not having that big muscular ninja man around the house, but I know that you are receiving blessings whether you know it or not! There has been so many different occasions here these past 9 weeks where I know I couldn't have gotten through it normally. The MTC really teaches you how to rely on the Lord, use his Spirit, and act on His promptings. I started the Book of Mormon the first week here and just finished it yesterday. I have learned SO much more then what I ever thought I would. After the first time finishing it (this is now my second) I didn't think I could learn much more. Boy was I WRONG! I learned SO SO SO MUCH MORE! I bought a scripture pen and now my scriptures almost look like a coloring book, I don't know if that should be good or bad, but let's go with good.

Smiley from millan.net

I am so happy to have my testimony strengthened by finishing the Book of Mormon again before entering out into the field. It has taught me so much, and I am trying my best to apply these different principles I learned from both the Book of Mormon and Preach My Gospel into my life. Because of this opportunity to serve a mission, I am going to be blessed throughout my whole life. I don't think that there will be a time where I won't be able to refer some decision I made back to my mission. I know the Lord will and is blessing all of you and I for the chance I have to serve.

The temple was great today (like always). I met a man named Brother Miller while my district and teachers went to the temple to eat breakfast today (by the way, temple breakfast IS AMAZING!!!!!!! GRAAHHH!). He is an elderly man that works in the temple, and he and I started to get talking a little bit while waiting in line for our food at the temple. We were sharing different stories that we've each had and grown from, and he told me that I'm in the right place. That I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing. He helped me re-understand that the work is of the Lord, and no one else. I am there to help other come unto Christ, but the Holy Ghost will testify to them if they are willing to listen. Brother Miller was such a humble and loving man and I'm lucky to have gotten his address so I will be able to write him out in the field. He shared with me a poem titled "The Plowman." He said he would read this out on his mission, which was over 40 years ago, whenever he felt discouraged and let down. It always brought him back to his feet. I gave him my email address to send me the poem, so hopefully it will come soon and I will be able to send it home with the family letter.

Thank you for the package! :)  I received it yesterday and enjoy everything that was in there. :)  Thank you for the gummy worms (they are already gone, some mouse probably got to them, who knows) and the other food. Thank you for the album, too! What a good idea! And thanks for those pictures in there, I love them all! Especially Ciera and I at prom, and CHOMA!! Boy, I miss that little puppy, hope he still remembers me when I get back!
Smiley from millan.net

I have about 50 or so pictures on the other SD card and will be adding captions to them and send it home with my family letter so expect it sometime next week. Thank you for telling me Nanny and Papa's correct address by the way, I couldn't really read it in the address book so took a stab at it.  Luckily the letter got to them. Don't send me any more Dear Elders or letters because I don't think I will have time to receive them. I leave at 5:00 in the morning Tuesday and I forgot what my flight is! I'll do a quick 30 second email later today when I have the opportunity to get back onto a computer later to tell you all the information. I WILL BE ABLE TO CALL YOU! So expect a call from me between 5-9 in the morning. I know it is a big gap, but I don't know when I will be situated and everything at the airport. I'm sure they do a few things a little bit different with missionaries, but I'm not too sure. And don't worry, I'll be taking a lot of pictures!

Tomorrow is Field Orientation, and I'll be in a room for TWELVE hours. I am telling the future: I'm going to fall asleep. Buuuut! Let's hope that doesn't happen! I've been doing really well not needing my nap and let's see how it goes tomorrow. :)  I can't believe that my 9 weeks here is already gone by. It feels like just yesterday that I was crying like a baby saying goodbye. Just goes to show has fast time flies when you are on a mission, people aren't kidding! It kinda makes me sad that I only have two years to serve, let's hope I can get a lot done in that short amount of time! Anyways, I love you all and am so happy for everyone's support! Tell the ward I say hello, and tell them that I love them!  :)

Elder Alex Annand

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Week 7

Note from June - Thank you so much for your support by following along on Alex's journey with his mission.  I would love to encourage you to leave comments on the weekly entries that have touched you in some way - Alex will be reading each and every one of them when he returns home from his mission.  What a great surprise is in store for him!!!  Please feel free to forward this blog address to folks - especially those within our ward... I added a quick slideshow of when Alex opened up his mission paperwork in the gallery section - check it out!  I'll be updating the gallery with MTC pictures and video soon, now that I've figured out Movie Maker!  Tee Hee - I'm so NOT tech savvy!

***********  Now on to Alex's letter ***********

Hello everyone!

Another great week at the MTC! Thursdays are so great because it's Preperation Day, which means Temple time! I just got finished with my endowment session just a few hours ago and I loved it (like always). Each time I go through a session, I learn something new, but there is so much to learn it's amazing! I love it so much:). President Laney told me that out of a whole table of knowing what the endowment is and what we can learn from it, he probably only knows about a corner, so I'm glad that I don't feel totally lost sometimes! I'm glad that I have the opportunity to even be endowed though! It is such a touching moment in my life that I will never forget. This church has brought so much happiness in my life I have no idea where I would be without it. It certainly has made me a better person and is helping my discover who I am supposed to be. What an opportunity it is to serve a mission for the Lord, to invite others to come unto Christ and help them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement:). Just planting that seed would be totally fine with me! I know that someday that seed will grow and they will find the church some way or another, the Lord always seems to help others in mysterious ways:). It is such an amazing feeling to know that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ trust 19-24 year old people to go out and spread His gospel. Why, I don't know, but I do know that I am doing the right thing by being out here. I feel the spirit everyday, and my faith is continually increasing. I've been on a spiritual high since the day I arrived at the MTC, and I honestly don't think it will ever go away... At least I hope it doesn't!

This past week has been a big blessing for me. I have been having some of the best personal study sessions I have ever had. People would tell me that I should start and end with a prayer (which I have always done) and to also ask a question about what may be on your mind. This whole week I have not gone a day without my questions being answered. Oh how the Lord works in mysterious ways! I finished 2 Nephi and all the other books leading up to Mosiah. When I first joined the church, I would cry reading through Second Nephi, but now, it's my favorite book! Once you figure out what Isaiah means and how his symbolism works, the stories he tells are absolutely GREAT! Granted, all the books in the Book of Mormon are great, but I'm going to have to say Second Nephi is the best hands down. Read 2 Nephi 25 and it talks about how you can understand Isaiah better :)!

There has been A LOT of contention in my district lately too :\. Four or five guys out of the eleven are yelling at each other constantly, starting fights, calling each other names and other stuff. It gets ridiculous and instantly kicks the spirit out of the room. Elder Fiala and I have to resort to leaving to a different room to study almost every time. I don't know why the contention has started, but my guess is that 7 weeks is too long for them to be together. To be honest, I love it all! My companion is great, the studying I've had since I've been here has been the best, and the food helps me gain weight and upset my stomach, I mean, WHO WOULDN'T want that?!  Haha :) , all jokes aside, I am ready to go to the field! Only 12 more days, and I'll be off to Washington baby! I can't believe that it has gone by this quick! Good thing my companion is going to the same mission as me, because I would have missed him the most. I just hope we will have the opportunity to be companions out in the field one day! Who knows!?

Sunday night I had the opportunity to bear my testimony in Spanish since it was fast Sunday. I talked about eternal families, how I will have one with my own, and my wife someday :). I also talked about Joseph Smith and the troubles he had to go through just to keep this church alive. If it wasn't for him, this church would not exist today. My Spanish has improved so much, and I can only thank the Lord for doing so. He has helped me receive the gift of tounges, and I know that it is real. There is NO way I could have learned as much as I know in seven weeks time if it wasn't for Him and the different gifts of the spirit. I cannot thank Him enough for the price He had to pay for us and for the blessings He has given me in my life. The church is His church - no one elses. If it wasn't for Christ's Atonement, we would have no way to return to our Father in Heaven. It is because of Christ that we have this opportunity; but we must use it. In Preach My Gospel it says that we should repent daily, and I have been trying my best to do so. No one can have a perfect day no matter how hard they try. None of us is perfect, except for our Savior Jesus Christ. He was the perfect example for everyone on this earth, and I am so glad that I get to share His gospel to the people in Washington.

There was a talk I read the other day called "Teaching By The Spirit" by Elder Lund. See if you can find it, it was very inspirational and very very good! Also look up, "Slow to Anger" by Gordon B. Hinckley, and "Meeting Your Goliath" by Thomas S. Monson. They are each so amazing and inspirational and I love them so much!

Yesterday I had the opportunity to be a New Missionary Host! WOOT WOOT! It was SOOO fun! I got to show the missionaries around and help them when they got dropped off at the MTC. Remember when you had to do that to me, Mom? :)  I almost started crying seeing how many mom's that started crying. Such a sad sight! But I know that they were tears of joy for their beloved son or daughter! They are all in the right place! I KNOW I am in the right place! I thank you all for your support and love!  :)  It is such an amazing feeling to know that I have a support group back at home cheering me on. Trust me, it helps a ton!

Anyway, I love all of you and thank you for being an awesome example to me :).

Elder Alex Annand

*********** UPDATE **********

Here are the links that reference the talks mentioned above for your convenience.  Just put your pointer over the author's name to activate the link and click away!  They do contain powerful messages, and I can understand why Alex was drawn to them -

"Slow to Anger" by Gordon B. Hinckley
"Meeting Your Goliath" by Thomas S. Monson

I could not find a talk given by Elder Gerald Lund titled "Teaching by the Spirit" - however, I did find one given by Elder Dallin Oaks titled "Teaching and Learning by the Spirit" which I found to be most excellent!


Friday, August 3, 2012

Week 6

Hey there family! Another week gone by already! It feels like just yesterday that I was emailing you guys, going to the temple, and enjoying my P-Day! Time just FLIES sometimes! But it's great! I cannot believe that I have less than THREE weeks left here at the MTC! I know I know, I shouldn't be counting but I am just SO excited to go and serve in Washington! It is going to be such a great experience for everyone that I meet, for the people back home, and for me. I love serving, and I haven't even had the opportunity to teach real investigators yet! It's insane how much I want to! GAH!

How is everything going back home? Is Choma still a good wittle boy? Has school started for the kids yet? Are they excited? Is Scotty excited to be a JUNIOR and Sierra a FRESHMAN?! Along with Heather being a little SEVEY! Hang in there guys, I know you can do it! Keep up the good work, you guys are awesome!  :)!

The MTC continues to have its great days! There really hasn't been too many days where I struggle or think about home because I am just so busy. Literally the whole 16 hours are planned out for me, which is great! I love knowing what I'm going to be doing each hour. The classes are awesome! The district had a very awesome lesson about the Doctrine of Christ. One of my teachers, Hermano Lucero would teach that as his first lesson every time as he served his mission in Mexico. However, he said that if they didn't accept it (he would invite them to be baptized the first lesson) then he wouldn't really follow up because the investigator wasn't spiritually ready. I don't know if I completly agree with that... I want to teach everyone I meet and help them as much as I can. I WANT to plant that seed inside them and help them grow in faith and their testimonies. Two and a half years ago, I wasn't spiritually ready. But after meeting with the missionaries several times, I started to realize that I DID have faith, I DID believe that the Book of Mormon was true, and I DID have a testimony. Looking back on these past two years, so many great experiences have happened in my life that has helped me get to where I am right now, a mission. I just wish I could thank the ward individually with how much each of them has helped me grow in some way. But for now: Thank you McQueen Ward:), each of you are all so great and inspirational! I love you guys so much and be easy on my mommy!

*cough* Anyways, thank you for the package! I was thinking about sending my blue towels home, but I decided against it. I'm going to keep them because without them I would still need to do a dark and white load anyways, so just trying to save money. If you could send those pants it would be great! It's nice to have an extra pair to wear around the residence when I can. Depending on how much nicer the blue jeans that you send me are, I might send back the ones I currently have, but for right now, I plan on keeping both. I will keep adding captions to the pictures that I send - do you think I should send the SD card every 2 weeks or just every P-Day? Not sure what I want to do, but it's whatever will make you more happy so don't forget to mention it in your next letter!

I'm going to be sending home one of my planners that is already full (they only go up to 6 weeks, because that is normally how long a transfer is) along with a book that this man named Brother Donald Chesley sent me. Sadly, I can't read it because it won't be approved by the mission president, but if you would like, read it and get back to me.  :)   I think it's about Brother Chesley's dad who was in the Air Force, who was shot down in Vietnam and a POW for 7 years or something like that. Can't remember too many details, didn't really look too much into it because I want to be as obedient as I can be. I can't remember if I told you this, but I met him and his family at Golden Corral when I worked there. I talked to him and shared with him a little bit about myself, that I was a convert, preparing to go on a mission, etc. He said that he wanted to help me out on my mission, I couldn't believe it! He sent me $100 dollars with the book and a letter. I'm going to write him back and say thanks for the blessing he has been in my life.

At the temple today, I met a man that taught Dr. Brooks when he went to BYU. It was awesome getting to know him, his name was Brother James Bear (I think). He was an elderly man who I sat with through the endowment session. We talked a little bit, getting to know each other and so on, and after the session he came up to me and shared something that hit me like a brick: "Stay strong Elder Alex Annand, you are a great man and it does not take an intelligent man to figure that out. You are doing the right thing, and for this reason I joined the church 50 years ago, through people like you. The Lord is always on your side and will help you whenever you need it, where you are at today is because of Him; never forget that." When he told me this, I could not stop crying. I told him, "It's people like me why I joined the church two years ago, without those two Elders that helped me so much, I wouldn't be here today." He gave me a hug, and went on his way. Brother James Bear has been a huge blessing for me. He really brightened up my day and helped me know that the Lord is ALWAYS there for all of us. He is only a prayer away, and we all need to soften our hearts and plead to Him with real intent to receive and answer from Him. I love our Lord, Jesus Christ. He has pulled me out of the dumps too many times to count. I can always rely on Him. I can always rely on my family, too. I love you guys so much. Never forget that the Lord is here, only a prayer away.

Do you forward my emails to Nanny and Papa? I forgot their email so I won't be able to email them, tell them that they should receive a letter from me within the next week.

Thank you for the inspiration you have been in my life, Dad. I know I don't really say that much, but you have helped me become the man I want to be. Because of you, I have chosen to be the best I can be. You are a great role model, and I hope Scotty recognizes that too. I love you, Dad.  :)

Love you all,
Elder Alex Annand
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