Monday, July 29, 2013

pictures from Brooksville... and more!

 official picture PROOF that she made it...
 Sister Ochsenbien and  Sister Andersen
She said EVERYWHERE she looks it is like this... 
 Beautiful Scenic Views...
 Beautiful Trees
 What a view!
 Pretty Reflection!
 haha... step carefully!
 Sister Andersen!!
 Holding a Gator!
 Funny Sign... I guess they really do this!
 Brave girl!
 Saying Goodbye to The Elders and Reuniting with a Sister 
 This sister had left for health problems, but was able to return right before transfers! Sister Andersen was SO happy to see her!!
packing... remember she hates packing...

Letter # 39

Dear Family!!

How is everyone? I loved your letters; it sounds like you had a very eventful week. I am always happy to hear you guys are doing well! I know you arr being watched over while I am on my mission, but I still worry sometimes about how you are doing. :)I especially worry about mom being an "empty nester" and all now! I can tell she is keeping herself busy (like normal:) which makes me happy. 

Well, can you PLEASE tell Carly and Tianni that I miss them and I can't wait until I  hear from them!? Also let them know I am very upset that they got to hold and babysit my new little niece before I did! :( Melissa told me Carly did a great job... before I left she would sometime tell them that I was a baby whisper! hahhahaha She is getting pretty good with kids herself :) Love them!! I'm glad you had them over. I am so thankful for such great friends. 

I have been thinking a lot lately about the reasons why I came out on a mission...  Because that is what everyone asks you. They want a huge story to go along with it as well. Which I find funny because honestly; I think it is one of the hardest things to explain. There are so many reasons why I came out and served. I've been thinking about why did I came out at this specific time, and why was I sent to Florida? I really don't have an answer quite yet... but honestly I'm just so excited to be out at this time. This is one of the most exciting times to be on a mission! There has been so many changes,  and there is only going to be more! :) I mean already on my mission there's been the age change thing! It is so amazing; I have been so lucky to serve with so many awesome "younger" sisters. I think back on my life and really think... What was I thinking? Honestly... even though being one of the "older sisters" I actually get alone with younger sisters better. Weird? :D  Like WAY better. I think that's why I actually had such a hard time with Sister Williamson and Sister Goodwin. But idk? 

I'm just so thankful that the Lord knows me...and knows what I need :)

I am out at such a historic time. The Lord definitely knows us :) I look back and kinda question why I'm here? I am completely out of my comfort zone! I am talking and teaching people all day. Sometimes I think to myself... "I didn't sign up for this? Oh wait yes I did!" hahahaha. With new people I'm honestly a pretty shy person. It's not until we become friends when you can't shut me up! hahah
Being in a new area has also pushed me way WAY out of my comfort zone. Not really knowing anyone or what your doing. I guess that is the life of a missionary for ya! :) 1 Nephi 4:6 ... but i'm trying to learn how to embrace change! To love and live in the moment. :) Time has gone by so fast. I don't know what happened to the first half of my mission! :) I am trying my best... and that's all I can control! And I'm honestly trying to help as many people as I can. I am really loving the work! And trying to grow along the way!
So we had interviews this week... which was awesome! At first it kinda freaked me out because they were so different from...when President Summerhay's was here. Our new President Cusick is so different! He is very blunt and to the point. He is a true business man :) and honestly he kinda scares me a little bit :) I have huge respect for him already. He is such a great mission president! He may not show his love for us... as much as President Summerhay's did but you can tell he really does love and care about all of us. I can also feel his excitement for the work! I really needed this interviews... he told me exactly what I needed to hear.

Well I'll have to tell you more about it next week, I'm running short on time like always. I love you guys so much! :)

God be with you till me meet again :) 

P.S. Make sure to watch the Ray's game this Saturday! You may get to see me :) It's "Mormon Night" and we get to go :) They are playing the Giants... I don't know who to root for!?... Remember Daddy when I was younger; I would ask who's the bad guys here? Well Daddy: Who is the bad guys?? ha ha ha ha
Love you guys so much!!! You are always in my thoughts and prayers :)
P.S.S  I'm really going to try to send pictures today :) I want you to see how beautiful Brooksville is :) Sorry about my spelling I was kinda in a rush :)
Love You!!!!! 
Sister Sharon Andersen 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Letter #38

Dear family!
I'm glad to hear everything ran smoothly for you guys at the family reunion!! Sounded like you both had a good time :) Can't wait till the next one where we get to see all the family :)

Love that mom stayed inside and sewed :) Don't worry mommy; you'll get your shopping buddy back next family reunion :)
So Brooksville is great!!! I'm starting to meet more of the families we're teaching and getting to know the members better..... the work here is so great! We get in with more people :)  I think it's because it's a little more country small town :) We get in with more people.  Everyone is so sweet :) And hopefully pictures will be coming later today, so you can see what I'm talking about.......still trying to work something out tho :)
This week has been really great :) long, tiring, and hard but always good :)......Sister O and I have been getting along great. And we are starting to really warm up to each other and  get to know each other better...and she been teaching me a lot! I'm really trying to learn and grow and change. And i see her trying to change and better herself

And i look back from where i started...... and i honestly thought I'd be farther along where I'm at in my mission. I really want to change and become a better person.....i want to represent Christ and i want people to recognize me as his servant. Sister O and I have been asking our selves a lot lately: "if Christ was here, how would he treat the people and families we're teaching?" We're kinda struggling with being patient with some of people we're teaching. We want them to progress and move forward..but they seem to be hitting a wall, and are stuck where they're at.... One family is struggling with gaining a testimony of the Book or Mormon and another we can't get back to church :/ ...but I'm continually trying to love the work and people and do my best! And I know that the Lord will take care of all things :) 

I know I've changed, and i feel it in myself.......but i can't ALWAYS see it. I still feel like i just started and don't know everything. And i know we'll never know everything. But i just wish i was better, you know? 
Well....those are just some worries that are going thru right now....I've realized how short of time i have to focus all my effect and attention in serving. I just want to do my best!
I want to thank the whole family for all they do!! I love you guys so much :0 and am so thankful for all that i have. That i was born into this family and into the gospel. I know it's the reason why i'm so happy :) I'm thankful that we can all be together forever !!!

Well, i love you all! and i'm trying to send some pictures later today :) I love you and thank you for all you do and for all the support and help :D
God be with you till we meet again :) LOVE YOU SO MUCH!!!!
Love, Sister Sharon Andersen 

Friday, July 19, 2013

Letter #37

Hey family!!

This is the first letter from Brooksville FL!!! It feels so weird not being in Naples, but I’m starting to love it. I think....or least I’m trying to . But I think I’ll always love Naples.  Being there for so long. You get to know everyone so well...I still can’t believe I served there for almost half my mission. I think Naples will always have my heart :) (btw, on the 17 of this month, I’ll hit my half way mark..Which is so crazy!!! I can’t believe how time flies. The next big mile marker….. is 1 year...which I don’t want to think about!)

Anyways …Brooksville is great! It’s so beautiful.  But we're actually serving and living in the Spring Hill area, which is a little more city compared to Brooksville haha.  The area reminds me a lot of Preston, ID..... It’s so small town and so Country. I mean there were members in our ward wearing snake skin boots and huge belt buckles :)..... If I stay in this area long enough, I may ask mom to send my cowgirl boots :)

But the ward is great. Very different from Naples. In Naples it was a lot of students and young families...But here it’s a lot of older people…which isn’t bad. But I’ve only heard great things about this town J . I’ve been told we have the best bishop and ward missionary leader in the WHOLE MISSION :) We had dinner with this past week at his house and he keeps up to date with all the people we're teaching and working with and is there to help with whatever we're in need of :) And every Tuesday, members from the ward… come on visits with us. We go and visit our investigators and returning members. Still have no idea where anything is…. I’m starting to meet more people. And get used to everything. Hopefully I’ll have more to report next week. I’ve just been meeting people and everything

So my new companion- Sister Ochsenbien! Still learning to say it right :) She is 20 years old. She's been out for about 4 months and has served in Brooksville the whole time...(and she keeps telling me she’s been getting the impression that this is her last transfer in this area too, don’t know how I feel about that yet haha ) . But she was born near Bear Lake, Idaho and then moved and grew up in West Jordan, Utah. She’s the oldest in her family. She also has 6 siblings, 4 sisters and 1 brother and her sister is also on a mission ...and guess where? Houston Texas, Spanish this a small world or what! :)  I’m not sure if I told you in the last letter but she was actually in one of the clips for that worldwide broadcast…. she was wearing a red dress i think with platinum blonde hair  ( I took pictures so you could get an idea of what she looks like and cause I know mommy loves pictures.....but i can't email them at our complex; but i'm trying to figure something out) since everyone loves the pictures so much :)

So as of now, I'm doing pretty good :) I feel very out of my comfort zone; I didn't realize how hard moving to another area would be...I've been told the first one the worst though and then i guess you kinda get more used to it...i just hope that i die here (only in mission lingo obviously hahahaha )  I've also realized I'm very bad with change! It actually stresses me out a lot :( But I'm excited to serve and work with more people. :)  (even though I miss everyone in Naples :) The elders in our district and ward aren't as good either ;) But I guess that will come with time, maybe.  Well sadly, I'm running out of time :(  I love you guys so much!!! and think and pray about you always
 I love you!!!
God be with you till we meet again

Sister Sharon Andersen :)

Monday, July 8, 2013

Letter # 36

Dear family!
Happy 4th!!! I know I always say it but.......holidays are just not the same on a mission. It’s so weird on a mission! It’s just like any other day…... except people are even less likely to talk with you :(  It's so funny me and Sister Calder get a kick out of it--in the white handbook, they talk about how holidays are great days to go tracting cause everyone is home with their family. Yeah, everyone is home; but honestly everyone is home BBQ and swimming and aren’t really interested in talking.  Or happy when you coming knocking on their door.
So I have some surprising news to report!!  It's kinda exciting but also sad ... so I’m usually more on top of it -- letting you know and updating you on when transfers are coming up....but obviously the one week I don’t tell you... I get transferred :(  Yep, you heard right!  Or read I guess J.  I’m getting transferred!  It’s so weird!  I’ve been serving in Naples for almost half my mission!!! Which is kinda crazy! All the elders were shocked that I’ve been here so long.  Haha
So I’m getting transferred to Brooksville! Which is as far north as you can go without leaving the mission… It’s about an hour north of Tampa.  So  I’m going from the bottom to the top. And don’t worry mommy :)  I got my address already :
  14295 Herring Hollow Dr.
  Spring Hill, FL 34609
So apparently I’m in the Springhill Stake serving in the Brooksville area. (more info to follow, I promise and pictures -- lot and lots of pictures. J) :) So I’ve only heard great things. :)  I heard it's very small town country which I’m so excited about :)  I wanted to serve in the south!!! So I’m definitely having mixed emotions. I’m excited for a change but also very nervous. And I’m not training either. Which will definitely be companion name is Sister Ochsenbein :) yeah…….still not sure 100 percent sure how to say it; but I’ll learn :)  She came out with Sister Godwin….. And I’ve only heard a little about her.  I’ve heard she is very quiet and shy…… so this should be interesting :) More info will soon follow.
Transfers are on Tuesday. So coming up fast….  I’ll make the 4 hour drive to my new area...but fun fact ***I’m not serving in the stake that  Elder Andersen talked about on that broadcast…..I’ve heard great things about the ward. My bishop and ward missionary leader are great! So I’m excited; but it's definitely bittersweet!!!
This is the only place I know. I’m going to be the one that has to learn the area :/ …..oh yeah and packing! I hate packing!! I don’t want to area hop anymore cause I suck at packing and my clothes have somehow multiplied. Hahha  I love grace yards!!  (Clothes left behind from other missionaries cause they either don’t fit, are sick of them, or don’t want to take them home  :) And one member has given us clothes too!! That's honestly the best!!!  And thank you for the gift card and birthday money; they've helped me from not getting bored of my clothes sooner! Mostly Grandma Smith!!! thank you!!  I promise it's all gone to good use :)
So this week! It’s been super slow L with the holidays and everything.. …The 4th was great! We went to a parade with a bunch of missionaries. J  (no pancake breakfast tho ) and we were thinking we’re going to meet the president on the 4th but ended up going on Friday so we did not have a dinner. But it worked out alright cause we went out to eat with a bunch of missionaries. We were trying to find somewhere everyone wanted to go and we ending up going to olive garden ....which Sister Calder said is un-American :) but it was great time! 
Then on Friday... we got to go on a mini road trip about 1 1/2 hours drive up to Port Charlotte to meet the president and his family.  They're pretty much the sweetest :0  He's very different from President Summerhays, which I don't know why that surprised me....I knew they wouldn't be exactly alike. But he's very sarcastic and blunt -- very businessman like!!  President Summerhays was all about love and we thought it was very funny that President Cusick even mentioned that he's not going to tell us right off the bat that he loves us after meeting for a few minutes .....which we thought was kinda harsh, but then cleared up later that over time once he gets to know us, he'll grow to love us !!  He was very welcoming and humble...and so sweet with his wife and she seemed to just be as sweet as a button and their daughter got up and talked a little too.  She's 15 and into tennis and knows it's gong to be a huge change coming from Utah. That's for sure.  But i'm guessing she will fit in just fine.
That's pretty much my week. I'm running short on time and wanted to send a couple pictures.
Love you guys so much!! You're always in my prayers and thoughts.
"God be with you till we meet again!!! "

With all my love,
Sister Sharon Andersen!!  LOVE YOU GUYS SO MUCH!!!!!
Sister Andersen, Sister Calder, Elder, Elder, Elder, Elder and Elder Serving in Tampa Florida 
Sister Andersen with the Elders
Sister Andersen, New President's Daughter, Sister Calder
Sister Andersen, New President's Daughter, Sister Calder being silly
 Packing her bag...
She said she hates packing... :)

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Handwritten Letter to ME(lissa)

Sister Sharon Andersen asked me to share part of my letter with you all. I had asked her how her mission has changed now that she is SO close to her half way point. This is what she told me...

*WEIRD FACT* Just because you are a missionary does not mean you are perfect! I am still the same person, I just now represent someone that is perfect. That is one of the reasons I wanted to serve a mission. When I was able to see friends returning from missions; I could tell they had changed and were different. Now I know that it was a change of heart. I realized that I SO wanted that! I was so lost where I was at in my life. I did not know what to do, or really what I wanted in life. I mean, I was not doing anything bad (I was working, going to school and going to church) but I was just hitting a brick wall. I was going and doing the same thing every week. I was at a total stand still, not moving forward or progressing. It honestly was not until I decided to serve a mission that I felt "found". I felt like I was doing the right thing; what Heavenly Father wanted of me. I have honestly never felt such peace so strongly as when I decided to serve a mission! It was a clear YES!
Because as you know I was thinking about it for a while. But as soon as I decided to really pray about it... I knew! I was so against it (for whatever reason) and was getting opinions for both sides. It was such a big life changing decision.
One of the things that really made me consider serving was seeing Sierra on her mission. (our ADORABLE Cousin on the Smith side. She served in the San Diego, CA Mission) Seeing how happy and excited she was made me really think more about it. She told me something and she probably does not even remember this... she said "A mission is NEVER a bad decision! You will never regret serving a mission, but you might regret NOT serving one." I have always looked up to Sierra being that we are close in age and just because of who she is! I realized that she gave up SO much to serve, and she did not regret it! That got me thinking... WHAT do I have to lose!? But HONESTLY I have gained SO MUCH for my service already. I did not lose a single thing! I love my mission so much! Not saying that is is easy, because it soooooo is not... There are days that I want to give up and just cry... but there are days that I am the happiest I have ever been!
There is nothing I would rather be doing. Nothing else would fit! I just wanted to take a second and thank everyone that supported me! So THANK YOU!!
Even YOU Melissa... haha. "Mrs. I am on the fence about you Serving". You have been so great helping me. I love hearing from you! I really do feel like you are my number one fan! ha ha! Also Sierra: you are the one that got me praying about it. When I was praying I got the feeling that I needed to read my Patriarchal Blessing. It says point blank in black and white that I will have the desire to serve a mission! My first thought as I read that through my tears was "OH CRAP! Now I have to go!" In that moment I know I could not deny it! I was where I was needed and I knew what I was supposed to be doing. I may have questioned myself from time to time but I always got the same answer. I need to go.
I want to bear my testimony that I know this church is the true church with all my heart! I have a testimony of it's truthfulness! I know I have a Heavenly Father that loves me and knows me by name. He knows my weaknesses and helps to strengthen them. He wants to help us ALL return to live with him someday. For that very reason he has provided his son as our Savior! I know that Jesus Christ is my Savior. I know that he died on the cross and payed the price for each and every one of us! He did that so we can be forgiven of our sins. He has shown us the way by his perfect example. My testimony has grown and has been strengthened by representing him as a missionary. I have gained such a great love and appreciation for the priesthood. It has amazing powers and our living prophets show us that power today! I know they are called of God to lead and guide his church. I know I was called to serve in the Tampa Florida mission for a reason by a prophet of God. The Book of Mormon is true! It is another testament of Jesus Christ. It is a witness that he lives and loves us. I know Joseph Smith restored the church that Heavenly Father and Christ established. When he was her on earth, this was Christ's church! I know it! I live it! I love it! Amen.

~She told me not to put this up if I thought it was "too churchy" but I think it is a wonderful example of true missionary work. Of course she is serving the Lord for others; but I love that SHE is being strengthened while doing the work! Thank you all for supporting my baby sister! She is so precious to me and I am so happy to be a part of her journey. She teases me about "being on the fence" because I was a pregnant emotional person when she left. I broke down while saying goodbye and told her not to go. It was because of selfish reasons, and I knew I was being irrational so I tell her I am sorry for doing that in almost every letter! Now that I have had the baby and am "back to normal" I am so happy that she is serving! Matt and I had been pushing her to go for a while before she made her final decision so I promise I DO want her to serve! WE LOVE YOU SISTER ANDERSEN!!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Letter # 35

Dear Family!
I'm glad to hear you all had a good time at girls camp! Sorry to hear it was raining though. So everyone slept in cabins? Is that really camping? So  Sister Calder and I made s'mores in honor of your girls camps :) I was very glad to hear that mom did not freak herself out too much... (being one of the 4 people in the kitchen) ha ha Oh, and Daddy... you didn't attach any pictures to your message. i want to see how everything has changed up at camp.
Oh yeah, and Melissa told me the Rays were coming to visit for the 4th :) Please give all the kids hugs and kisses from there favorite Auntie on a mission! :) Make sure to take tons of pictures and send them my way please!? :)
Yes Mother; I got the package! :) Thank you!! Thank you!! I got all I needed and more! :) You are the best!! :) It came at the perfect time... for some reason these last couple months I've been running out of money toward the end of the month. So the mango and candy were a perfect snack because I have pretty much eaten everything else. ha ha. Still trying to learn to manage my money. 
So this week has been kinda crazy! We found out one of our investigators Michella (I think I told you a little bit about her. IDK?) She was a referral from headquarters. She is my age and is staying with her parents while she is out of school right now. She is pretty much the sweetest thing! She been going to SUU. (Southern Utah University) She got a scholarship to SUU for gymnastics. That is how she found out about our church. We have been teaching her for about a month now.
She told us last week that she wanted to get baptized before she goes back to school. Sister Calder and I were VERY EXCITED!! However, the last time we meet with her; she said she wants to get baptized back at school so all her friends could be a part of it. We honestly just feel blessed to be a part of the process with her. We are just sad we are not going to be there, but are hoping to stay in touch... What was really neat though is that her parents would sit in on the lessons. They wanted to know and understand what their daughter had been telling them. They wanted to experience it with her.
It's really neat experience seeing a very close knit family outside of our faith... They are a very close family and her mom reminds me a lot of our mom! She found out that we are on our own and not reporting to someone everyday about where we are and stuff. So she got very concerned and worried. She asked us to call her and tell her when were going tracting (haha) AND to call her when we get home. :) So mom; you don't have to worry!! I have people watching over me! We are very lucky to have a LOTS of mission moms out here; everyone loves the missionaries!!
It's just so different not being a member of our church. I have learned that we are more different than we would like to admit. Sometimes I forget when we teach people that we are asking a lot of them. Sometimes it is to make huge life changing decisions. After realizing that not everyone grows up exactly like I did; having the same core values and not having the knowledge. I've been so very blessed to have it my whole life. :) 
Well I only have a little a little bit more time and wanted to send some more pictures this time because they are such a hit everyone that has been writing said something about them! :) :)  
I want you all to know how much I love and care for you! You are always in my thoughts and prayers. I know you are all in good hands and being well taken care of :!)  I love you guys so much!  
God be with you till we meet again
Sister Sharon Andersen

Some really old ones of Sister Westberg and I. :)
  SIster Andersen, Michella, Sister Calder
 President and Sister Summerhays and I.
 President and Sister Summerhays and I.
 Sister Calder and I.
 We have have a pretty rough day... so we bought a half dozen doughnuts. Maybe that is why we don't have any money?  ha ha  I am a borderline emotional eater! ha ha! It is kind of a problem.