Sounds like you had an amazing Thanksgiving! That make me happy. :) My only wish is that I could have been there, but I know I'm here for a reason! My Thanksgiving Day was great also! We went to eat at President Conclor's house. They had 4-7 sets of missionaries there which really helped me! Having the opportunity to be around people that are going through the same thing I was; being far away from family really helped. Just the fact that we were all feeling the same thing; and that I knew I wasn't alone was comforting. AND THANK YOU FOR ALL THE LETTERS AND CARDS!! :D Don't get me wrong, I missed mom's cooking A LOT! :( Her rolls and yams to be specific. The cooking and company was good... but it just wasn't the same. I had been praying the night before that I would have the strength and ability to have a good time and not cry or get emotional when we went for Thanksgiving. I didn't want anyone to feel bad for me or anything. I'm am very happy to say that I had a good time! I didn't cry at all!! (or at least not at their house) I had a really good time. They really made us comfortable and feel like a family... My companion and I were one of the last to arrive. It was so funny; all the Elders were just sitting around talking, and the first thing my companion and I did (after we greeted everyone of course) was ask if we could help. They put us to work! It made me feel right at home! L.O.L. (L.O.L. =Laughing out Loud) We helped finish up the meal, they keep saying how sorry they were for putting us to work. I had to keep reminding them I'd be doing the same thing if I was at home so it was no big deal! :) Right Mom? We also went around the table and said what we were thankful for just like we usually do at home! I said that I was thankful that I was a mission. I keep trying to tell myself that. I'm so thankful that i have the ability to focus myself 24/7 on serving my savior and doing his work. Also that for this short time in my life this is all I have to worry about. I get to leave all my other worries at home! I have had kinda of a hard week because it is holiday season. It REALLY is hard being away from family. I'm really trying to remember what the real meaning is! And try to remember what I really need to be focused on.
So after we did that we when went outside and played croquet. It was really fun... I was even beating most of the Elders, which they really didn't like! L.O.L. Nothing really exciting happened for the rest of the week. We are teaching two people right now. Miss Mary and Diane. It is going great, we meet with Mary on Wednesday, hopefully we will be setting a baptismal date. We just started teaching Diane, some time this week we'll be going over the second lesson. That is very exciting. I guess I will try to answer some of your question's since I have some more time :)
Lots of dinner appointments? We get feed on average 2-4 times a week. Our ward has 2 sets of missionaries so only half of the ward can feed us. That makes it kinda tough, not to mention that my companion has gluten allergies.Sadly, that scares people off too!! :( but no worries I have enough food.) Often the member's send us home with food. One lady in our apartment has given us food at least 3 time since I've been here. She also gave us a gift card! :) I haven't ran out of money yet. I'll keep you updated. Mom ~ send some crock pot recipes please... through email is fine! I just have to make sure I have coins on me. (10 cent a page to print)
Is your bike working OK? The bike is great! I only have to ride it every other week. We share a car with the Elders; but that is not the case everywhere. Some places our car is too full. :) The bike is great here. There is even someone in our ward who owns a bike shop. They look over our bikes from him to time.
Are you keeping it locked up? Yes Dad I'm keeping it looked up! I'm being very safe and I'm even wearing my helmet :)
How is the weather? The weather is great. Everyone tells me I came at the perfect time. Other people that come just this time of the year; "snow bird" is what they call them... It feels like pretty close to home. Not to hot yet. The only thing is that it can get cold at nights. I might need you to send me one of my sweaters. I really only brought big jackets and cardigans; but i will let you know.
Are you sleeping better? I am sleeping better! The only thing is some nights I just keeping waking up at 2 or 4 and then I am not able to go back to sleep. However, I am falling asleep fine. :)
Well... my time is running out! I love you guys!!! And I LOVE all the letters from family. Please keep them coming!! Melissa, Crystal, and Tiffany start checking your mail! I am going to TRY to write you a letter today and/ or during the rest of the week. I love you guys so much!! Please also keep me in your prayers!!!! Keep me updated on what is going on with you too! LOVE YOU!!!!!
Sister Sharon Andersen
P.S. Did you get my flash drive??? Or did you find my phone charger???
My parents have gotten a few hand written letters from Sister Andersen the last couple of weeks. I have only been publishing the e-mails she sends, but I thought you might want to read a few of the things she has said in the last letters we got from her... I (Melissa) got my very first letter from her and I about cried when I was just starting to open it! HA HA! I wanted to share the good parts of that letter as well, so I decided I will randomly have "HAND WRITTEN LETTER" post's as well.
Hand Written Letter to Mom and Dad ~ Mid November
" I want to tell you about the trip and my first week in the field. So Travels- for some reason I was assigned as the Travel Leader. (probably because I am the oldest) So I had to assign companionship's, make sure everyone gets onto the plane, and call the president if there was any problems... etc... Me REALLY? I haven't been on a plane since I was 4 years old. I was so thankful for the elders (most of them) really knew what they were doing and where they were going. Funny Story. So I weighed all my bags before we went. I started packing 3/4 days before I was to leave. I kept checking them; at least 4 times. (half way packing, with everything in, the night before, and then the morning of) I was SO worried about them being overweight. Luckily mine were fine! (49 lbs. and 47 lbs. I think) But 2 of the 3 elders bags were overweight and they had to move stuff into their carry ons! LOL! So I was fine! I tried calling before the plane when off, and on our layover. Both times I could hear your voice but you could not hear me. It was so sad for me. It just about broke my heart. It took all of me not to break down and cry. So it got me thinking... How does our Heavenly Father feel? When he is trying SO hard to talk with us and get through to us... and we are just not listening or tuned out!? How hard it must be for him to not be able to be with all of his children... to have to watch us as we suffer and make mistakes? It is only when we come to him that he can help us. That is why it is so important to keen that relationship strong and that line of communication always in tune with him and the spirit. That is the only way to talk with us. How sad it is also that some people that don't have that relationship with him at all!? To not be able to do anything? Just something that popped into my head... hope it made sense." (I LOVED her analogy here)
Hand written letter to Melissa ~ Nov 16-17 I had been asking her how she was doing in the M.T.C, and teasing her about if she found any elders yet...
"There are actually 2 elders in my district that I totally fell in love with! (but like brothers so don't get too excited Melissa) Elder Lee and Elder Ryan. Elder Ryan and I became close because we were the only one's in our district going to Tampa. And Guess What? You will love it.. he is a ginger! ( I told her about a red headed boy I dated in High School then decided I did not want to date him anymore because I did not want kids with red hair... I lovingly called him a "ginger" so she is teasing me ) One of the coolest gingers I have ever meet! He helped me not get lost on our trip to Tampa. We were able to sit near each other at the firesides... I really feel like I have made lifetime friends already on my mission! And then there is Elder Lee. Where do I start? He reminds me so much of Preston. Which makes me happy. He was really sweet and treated the sisters as normal people. It has been so weird; most of the Elders were really awkward; like they have never seen or talked to a girl before..." I had a really bad day with Landon, and I was telling her that his new thing to say to me is "You are a BAD MOM!" So this was her response to that letter...
"Tell Landon that you are doing your best!! Melissa, I really hope you know that! You are an amazing mom!! And such a great example to me. I hope one day (soon) I'll meet a guy that loves me as much as Matt loves you and he takes me to the temple and I get to start my own little family. I look up to you so much. You are good with those kids! If nothing else they KNOW you love them! You are an amazing mom!!" (it is nice for the re-assurance, but also sweet that she talked about her future with marrying in the temple! Then This was the end of her letter...)
" I love you all so much! Thank you for all your support and best wishes. I know everyone is praying for me and I feel the love and support I have back home. I am so thankful for this family. I know I was put in it for a reason. You have helped me grow so much (even when I did not want to) I am so thankful to have you for a sister and a best friend. I hope you know how much I look up to you, and want to be like you. You are such a good role model in my life and I know we were all put into the same family for a reason! I could not ask for a better sister and family! I love you guys SO much! I never knew before I came how much I lean on my family you guys are my ROCK, and I can't wait to get home to spend forever with you all!! Thank You for the cards! I love them even though they usually make me cry! The one with the little tree on it, where you talked about crying in Wal-Mart when you saw the missionaries really has helped me when I want to give up and come home. I love you SO MUCH! I am going to get better at writing! (I promise) Sorry this letter is all over the place; it is where my brain is right now! L.O.L! LOVE YOU! ~ Sharon Sister Andersen L.O.L. still hard for me to not use my first name"
I really enjoy reading all her letters, and seeing her grow as she serves the lord. I feel our family being blessed by her service, and I am SO PROUD of how well she is adjusting! Keep writing her when you can, she told me that being able to get letters from home makes her day! Tomorrow is her P-Day so Look Forward to the next email letter soon!
So this week i tried to remember to write down all that i want to share with you guys because i really felt like i haven't been able to tell you guys all that i want to and my thoughts are just all over the place. so tell me if this helps and if i'm even making any sense :)
Well first off, i wanted to talk a little bit more about my first day at the the mission home. i had a really cool experience, as a group we read the story about the strippling warriors; and all the new missionaries did something similar to them. we wrote a little letter and buried it in the earth; we all made promises and covenants. and president let us write whatever we wanted. we could write sins we promised to give up (stuff we did before our mission ) to promise to not do them again or write what kind of missionary we promised to be and what we had to do to become that kind of missionary. It was just a really meaningful experience for me making more covenants with my heavenly father about what i want to do on my mission. and was just a great way to start our our mission. we buried then in front of the mission home so if we ever come back i thought it would be cool to show you guys :)
So a really cool thing that the Tampa Florida mission does as a door approach is leaving our savior's peace and blessing. just like Jesus Christ would bless and help people when he was on the earth we as missionaries go and say a mighty prayer over people's homes and their family. it helps us get in more houses and invites the spirit. it is really neat getting to see people's hearts soften before your eyes. they become more open to hear our message. so we try to lead from how they're feeling into part of lesson one or get a return appointment and explain more what they are feeling. it's really helpful here in the south everyone is open to it.
i've had a much better week! last week was really hard for me. getting adjusted to everything, getting settled in, and being with my companion 24/7 was not easy. this week i've felt a lot better i still have my bad and good days but i'm enjoying the work more. loving the people :) ok i don't have much time left so i'm going to try to answer some of your questions I LOVE YOU GUYS SO MUCH!!!!!!! words can not describe the love i have. i miss and think of you guys always. please keep me in your prayers love you!!!
dads and moms questions crock pot recipes- I can print stuff out at the library but it's just the time it takes is what i don't know about. i don't really have enough time to do or say all i want to say :( so if you can send by mail i think that would be better but either are fine with me.
my camera dock thing is on the side of the computer, under the printer or in one of the drawers by the computer. please look again. my camera totally dies i can't even turn it on. it's the thing my camera seats in.
How is your ward in Naples? the ward is great!! everyone in the ward is very excited about missionary work. they are very helpful -- driving us around when we are on bikes and going on visits with us. the ward is very involved in the work. so in this ward, there's lot of retired people and students! a lot of people going to school for law and medicine here. so a lot of young couples with kids. (i think the ward might have 2 nurseys lol) and then the rest of the ward is retired couples and sadly a lot of widows. but everyone is so sweet!! all the older ladies' homes remind me of grandma smith's home. everyone loves that i'm from California. 4 people from the stake are leaving to California for missions (but sadly none are going to Sacramento :( LA, Oakland, and i can't remember where else
Lots of active members? the ward is HUGE. it's so big they actually have 2 sets of missionaries in the ward. we are the Naples south missionaries :) but what is weird is that 60% of the ward is inactive. so we meet with LOTS of inactive. our main focus in this ward is to bring those lost sheep back to the fold. so we only have 3 investigators this week. One is really progressing and the other two are sadly not as interested. but we try to meet with them 2 - 4 times a week and than the rest of the time we focus on less actives.
I'm out of time sorry i couldn't answer everything. i'll try to get better next week. check the mail there should be a letter coming your way if you haven't got that yet and i'll be sending my flash drive too with all my pictures on it. some are old and i think they're all mixed up sorry again i didn't have time to fix them. love you guys got to go
Sharon sent the letter to my mother answering my mom's questions... see below for the questions that were asked. Then below that is the letter she sent my dad. :)
1. My address is 1344 Wildwood Lake Blvd. Unit 8 Naples, FL and I think my zip is 34104. Sorry I didn't write down my zip in my planner. I think Ursula is right family and friend can send letters here but packages have to go to the Mission home address.
2. My bike was here the day of transfers ~ Thankfully!! :) My awesome M.T.C buddy Elder Ryan (the elder you talked to on the phone) put it together for me.
My bedding didn't come until Thursday but it was alright because they had sheets and stuff for me to use at the apt. I have been sleeping better since I got my bedding! So Thank You Mommy!!!!
Melissa ~ Thank You for the package! I got it as soon and got into Flordia. It has been helping me sleep much better. Please tell HayHay (Hailey; Melissa's daughters nickname) that I've been sleeping with my kitty cat every night, and reminds me to pray for all my family. Oh and thank Landon for the candy. I carry a couple in my bag and have a couple through out the day. It always reminds me of all the support I have back home :)
3. No not yet. :( were getting the car tomorrow hopefully I can get all the supplies then.
4. This week we only had 2 family dinners. :( I think this week we'll be getting dinners more often. We have at least 3 or 4 a week I think. So any recipe's would be great! Please send easy, fast, and cheap recipes. We do have a crock pot :D so some for that would be great. Please send the one for crapes? How long do I cook potatoes for? And how long do I boil chicken?
I will have to write you about my first week and companion maybe later today, or by letter depending on our appointment's today. Sorry ran out of time; I have to met with someone at 2:30. Love you guys! So much!!! I also wrote Dad. Sorry I'm so slow at typing; more to come! If you don't get another email by tonight look out for a letter coming in the mail.
LOVE YOU GUYS!!!!
Sister Sharon, Nov. 12, 2012
I thought that I had better get on this morning and get you a letter done. With Matt and Melissa and the kids they have kept me busy. I sent you a picture of Melissa I hope that I did it right.
We have a few questions?
1- What is your address that you are living at, and the zip code to find out where you are at on google? (Ursula said we could send letters to your address and packages should go to the mission home.)
2- Did you get your bike and bedding? (Dad told me to ask you.)
3- Got your Emergancy Pack done?
4- Do people invite you over for dinner? Or do you do most of your own cooking? Do you need any recipes?
i know daddy; i wish i would've got to talk with you too. i should have just called you again later. I'm so sorry!! but it was getting late and i didn't want to be talking past lights out at the mission president's house. lol. Yeah, i never figured out why my calling card didn't work. one of the elders said his didn't work on land lines either, but i tried mom's cell too and it still didn't work. but i'm glad i got to at least hear your voice and i'm glad you got to listen to my voice mail. but Christmas is coming up soon. I'll get to call you then :) and talk for at least a half hour.
Sounds like you had a REALLY busy week! pretty much sounds like you, you never stop, you've always been that way; go go go! i guess that what happens when you work on a farm? and have to walk up hill in the snow both ways to school. :) just teasing you but i do want to thank you for always being such an amazing example for me. You're such a hard worker! that's one of the many things you taught me was a good work ethic.
I'm trying really hard to do the best, I'm trying to do all i can! and be a good example! i know that people see my black name badge and they know who i am and who i represent . I'm just trying to do bring others unto him and at same time make you guys proud. I'm really trying my best! you and mom are just the best examples. i want and hope i can be half as good as you when i grow up. i love you guys so much! and I've been having a really hard time these last couple days. just wondering what am i doing here? what did i get myself into? am i doing a good job? it's hard being a missionary! i miss you guys and home. i don't always feel like i belong here. some times i feel lost where i'm at. did you ever feel like that when you were on your mission? and if so what did you do? i keep trying to remember my purpose and what I'm doing here. but it doesn't always stop the tears. any advice? I'm trying to wrap myself in the work and that has helped a lot but its still hard. i want to guys to know that i love you! and i love this gospel. and i know it's the reason i have such happiness in my life and i can't wait to see it change someone's life for the better.
mom wrote me a long email with tons of question so i need to go answer them before my time runs out. so I'll write more in this next letter, love you guys!!!! and keep the letters and emails coming.
*We think her "P Day" might have changed to Tuesday. :) It sounds like she might need a little reassurance that she is where she should be and if anyone would like to share with her what they did when they were on missions and home sick I think that would help!~ THANKS! ~
We did not receive a letter from Sharon for this week because she was able to CALL HOME!!
She tried to call a few times in the morning from the airport but was not able to get through. She said she could hear Mom and Dad on the other end saying "Hello... Hello... Sharon is this you!?" But my parents could not hear anything from their end. She was able to call them Monday Night and talk for a while.
She traveled with 2 Elders from her Zone in the MTC to the Florida Tampa Mission. One of the Elders; Elder Ryan let her borrow his calling card to call mom and dad. He made the call and let my mom know not to worry that they were taking good care of Sister Andersen. That helped put my mom's mind at ease.
She was able to meet with the Mission President and they got a picture. The Mission President said he would send the picture to my parents soon. She enjoyed the flight but was frusturated that her calls home were not going through. She was looking forward to getting her bike soon and meeting her companion.
She also said to tell everyone (friends and family) thanks for the emails letters and prayers. She loves everyone and she will try to find time to write.
We are SO happy she arrived safe and sound and we look forward to her serving the people in Florida!