Sunday, April 10, 2011

The End, or Good Things to Come

This is the last post for the blog. I'll be leaving it online for others to browse and peruse, in part because of a trip to the MTC I enjoyed last week on Thursday. Apparently one of the elders currently there looked up my blog before going and read everything he could, and it was a great support to him in getting ready. Others have commented on it's testimony strengthening value, and I'm glad I've been able to play some small role in strengthening others, even if I don't know the who's or the how's behind that influence. I do have to say that I'm immensely grateful for my mission experience, for the opportunities it's brought me, and I'm grateful for everything I've also had to sacrifice along the way. You can't count the cost when you first set out, and you can't count it when you finish either - not that it's uncountable, but that you simply shouldn't count it. Sacrifice and blessings from it aren't questions of "how much", it's a question of "how complete". When we make a sacrifice at 100% of something, we get 100% of the associated blessings (However the blessings are always richer than the sacrifice, so it's not an equal trade-off). In the great words of Elder Holland, "Some blessings come soon, some come late, and some don’t come until heaven; but for those who embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ, they come." I know that is true, and I know that the experiences I have described in this blog are true and factual, and are only a sample of a myriad of experiences that have yet to make it beyond personal re-tellings and private journals. However, know that I love my mission and I would do it again if I got another letter in the mail. It is good to know that life has good things to come for all of us when we embrace Christ's gospel. He lives, and he is acutely aware of our personal circumstances, triumphs, and struggles. But, with Him, we will conquer all things.

(Elder) Brent Anderson

PS - To follow the continuing adventures of Brent Anderson, please visit my new blog, Planet Brent at, or look me up on Twitter @brentj84062 or

Monday, March 28, 2011

On our way home

Well, here I am. I've got this MacBook Pro with black keys and a solid aluminum frame sitting on my lap. In spite of my better judgement, I have a secret to share. More of an embarrassment, really. I've not touched an Apple laptop/device for two years. When I've emailed, it's been windows, and in the office it's all windows. My lil' brother loaned his laptop to me to start getting the last two years of emails and facebook cleaned up and organized and all.

And I've forgotten how to use a Mac. Well, that's almost not true. It's just taken about 30 minutes to re-learn pressing the "command" button instead of the "control" button, and a few other odds and ends. With that little anecdote out of the way, let's get started…




"Good morning Mr. Anderson, this is your wakeup call. We hope you slept well! Have a nice day!"

The automated wakeup call clicked off almost as fast as it clicked on. Elder Anderson didn't sleep much. They had driven home from Ostrava that day after church and saying goodbyes to members and friends. Instead of taking the freeway, they pulled out of Ostrava and took the longer and more scenic route through the winding Czech countryside. It was a rather surreal setting for the closing scenes of Elder Anderson's mission. Czechs, old buildings, castles, forests, hills all blurred together and he simply smiled.

After pulling into the mission home in Prague to pick up his remaining luggage. As they buzzed the front doorbell, President Irwin popped his head out and grinned broadly. As they wandered up the stairs into the office, they were greeted by Elders Thompson and Andersen and President and Sister Irwin. While the Andersons were expecting a brief step in to say hello and then sneak out the back door again, they instead got sat down in President Irwins office so that Elder Anderson's parents could chat with the Irwins while President Irwin grabbed Elder Anderson to do a few more things in the office. Kind of a funny yet fitting ending to the extended "P-Day" they'd been having. But, after taking care of a few pressing office matters, they said their "see you laters" and then left for their airport-side hotel.

That night was unusual. They wanted to get some sleep early, but they needed to balance their luggage. In the end, it was about 11 PM that they went to bed, and they had set a wake up call for 5 AM.

Elder Anderson couldn't sleep. Thinking about where he'd been and where he was going was too engaging for him to actually rest properly. He must have drifted off at some point, but before long the wakeup call came and they started moving very quickly. Before they knew it, they were at the airport….

I'm afraid that my brain has switched off to writing for the night. Here are the highlights:

  • My luggage was actually all under weight. Ironically, my parents luggage was overweight.
  • Even more ironically, their carry-on luggage that was fine coming to Europe was "too big" in going back to the US. So, they also ended up checking both their carry on bags. On the downside, they didn't have anything in the airplane at all. On the upside, they didn't see any of their luggage until this afternoon in Salt Lake.
  • I was laughing all the way to the security check: The advance check in denied my tickets, and I thought it would be hilarious if my parents had to go home without me because I didn't have any tickets. How great would that be: 26 months and then stuck at the airport.
  • The first leg of the trip to Paris was pretty good. It was definitely hard to see it all go from a little cabin window.
  • We landed in Paris late. Charles de Gaulle airport is very large, rather impressive in some ways, but when you have to catch a plane and you're running late it becomes a marathon.
  • After a fiasco with making a customs claim in Paris (which wasted some time still), we ran to our terminal and sat down, however our location prevented us from hearing the overhead speakers. Just as we arrived, my mother was inspired to use the restroom. Interestingly enough, in the restroom she could hear what that loudspeaker was saying perfectly. It sounded something like this: "Last call for the Anderson Family - Last call at Terminal 76!" When my mom heard that, she ran to our seats, grabbed our bags, and said "RUN!" We made the gate just as they were closing the doors. It was very exciting.
  • The 12 hour flight from Paris was long. I was, however, very impressed with the in-flight refreshments: Basically three small meals and beverages every 1.5 hours. It makes one feel very sedentary, since all you're doing is sitting, they're playing films, and you're eating/drinking regularly. I'm starting my running routine again on Wednesday.
  • Everything else was pretty good. The most surprising thing: The turning lane or "Suicide lane" in the middle of the roads, english billboards, and the lovely renovating my parents have been undertaking since I've left. My siblings are all older, and the new additions to the Anderson clan are great.
Good night. I'm very tired.

Friday, March 25, 2011

The haunted mansion

This will be brief but good. We woke up this morning after a five star rest and took showers in a five star shower. Yes the water was still five star along with the soap and cleansing gel. We checked out and went for a walk around Bratislava up to the castle. My mom was interested in seeing what mass looked like, so we sat in the back of the cathedral and I gave a very condensed interpretation as we went.

The definite hilight today was lunch with Lucie, a former sister missionary on temple square that my parents met several years ago. Since then they have kept in touch. She is doing great and we were very happy to catch up with her and spend a couple of hours together talking about the church and missions and work and politics and everything in between. My dad thinks we will adopt her. We dropped her off at the train station and then proceeded to drive to Ostrava via the scenic mountain freeway in Slovakia. A lot of castles, mountains, and windy roads later, and we pulled into the hotel for tonight. Compared to our five star accommodation, this one is a 0.5. It's not bad on the whole, however it is on an infamous European street that is about 300 meters long and has about 150 bars on it, not even kidding. We are going to bed tonight with a deep house beat and the sounds of drunken bar patrons merry-making on the road below ( Mom: "I swear they are speaking in tongues"). I've been living with it for a few years now, but my parents are both very sensitive to the cigarette smoke in our room (I can't smell the smoke, but they insist it's really bad). The place we are in also oddly resembles the haunted mansion, including squeaky floors, squishy carpet, and old warped wood furnishings. The stairs have a locked gate and the elevator is cramped and has no doors (really). And, to top it all off, the artwork here is, shall we say, not missionary appropriate. My mom even blushed when we walked in, and we took down the offending eclectic art pieces. My mom has tried to help it smell better, and she's going to be very upset if she takes home bed bugs (Dad: "If they can survive 30000 feet for 11 hours in the plane, they deserve to live.") Apparently the hotel has a motto: "Your harbor along the way". Let's hope we don't get seasick.

We are here only one night, and tomorrow will be great. It has been a great week and a most memorable and needed vacation. Let's see what tomorrow brings. :-)

Starší Anderson

More Ferris

Ferris Bueller's day off

In interest of sharing the whole story when it comes to this five star experience we are having, I have penned an addendum to my dad's post. I am sitting here in my five star bath robe and my five star bath slippers after having a five star bath with five star water and five star soap. This place is amazing!!! I feel guilty staying here after sleeping on ancient missionary mattresses in old, decaying buildings. The people here are always looking for ways to help us, from sharing tips on food and ATMs to offering to set up reservations for dinner. The hotel itself is in the heart of Bratislava and is close to everything. 

Now, when it comes to dinner tonight, we looked everywhere for a place with good prices and light food. Then, we spotted a nice Mediterranean establishment. We walked in and a man dressed in a chef's outfit asked us if we wanted smoking or nonsmoking. We opted for the latter, and he took us to a private elevator. When the doors opened, a man that looked like George Clooney's long-lost twin helped my mom take her coat off and the seated us at a table of our choice, complete with tumbler, wine glass, snifter, and a full place setting for a three course meal. His sidekick, who was not dressed in Mr. Clooney's same suit, tie, and euro shoes but in a white chef sort of outfit as well, offered us a vintage bottle of la pellegrini mineral water. They then hovered over us, filling our glasses and bringing out our simple salad order (all we had was the mineral water and salad), ensuring our every wish was met. I must confess I feel out of place in the midst of all this, however it is still very thrilling to experience. It is definitely another "mission first" and I highly recommend it. It is so choice.

Earlier today was great. We dropped by the local branch president's house to say hi, and it was good to see Třebíč again and say hello to Iva and the missionaries. And we did go to Austria singing the Barber of Seville across the border. Highly satisfying I must say. 

Well, we are about to trundle off to bed. It is quite pleasant here, and I am looking forward to the remainder of our trip. It is coming up very quickly, and I am excited to come home.

S láskou,
Elder Anderson

Thursday, March 24, 2011

[Starší Anderson] Abe Froman, the sausage King of Chicago

You might be wondering why the title of this post. It is in reference to the movie Ferris Beullers day off. More about this later.
We began the day shopping for shoes for Brent. Then we left Olomouc for a short visit with the wife of the branch president in Olomouc. What a delightful lady. Most gracious and welcoming to us and fluent in English. Then to Trebic to have lunch and help teach a missionary lesson. A brief excursion into Austria, yes we tried to sing Figaro as we crossed the border. (Family joke here). Then on to Bratislava, Slovakia for a visit to a friend tomorrow.
Now for the explanation of the subject. When we reserved our room he in Slovakia, we could only find one hotel that had room enough for 3 adults, the Hotel Arcadia. If we had looked really hard we probably could have found something but we were anxious to get everything scheduled. As we pulled up, we could see that it was something beyond what we were expecting, uniformed bellman, valet parking, etc. Apparently, this is the only 5 star hotel in Slovakia. 13th century building in the heart of the city. Amazing!!! They really aim to please.
Now off to dinner. This is where Abe Froman comes into play. We stopped at a restaurant, Le Monde, not expecting what we got. 5 star restaurant as well. It made us feel like Ferris, Cameron and Sloane. Great food, many laughs and priceless memories.

Better go for now. Lots to do tomorrow.
Brian, Kathy and Brent

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

"Is THAT a castle??" "No mom, it's just somebody's house..."

Greetings all, it's been a great couple of days. My parents are over the jet lag by now, and I have to confess that they've both been wonderful travel companions and I'm giving my mom a hard time with the title of today's post, she can tell a castle from a house. But every couple of hours or so the two of them will just look around and say "Wow! We are in EUROPE!" It is very flattering to be able to show them all the cool stuff and to have answers to a lot of the questions about castles and history and everything else that you pick up when you live somewhere long enough. It is SO nice to actually get to take a break and not have to worry about anything while we are out here. It is really one of the first vacations I can remember having where I can actually enjoy myself.

Since Saturday we went to church in Prague and we visited a concentration camp, a Jewish ghetto, and the museum of communism. Needless to say, it was a pretty heavy day. Kind of interesting when compared to our visit to the temple on Saturday.

Tuesday we went souvenir shopping in Prague downtown and then took the best scenic route ever across the Czech countryside, stopping in Kutna Hora to take a look at a chapel made of bones. I promise all the gruesome stuff is behind us at this point. We then made our way through the rolling hills to Olomouc. After some traditional Chinese take out, we hit the sack. Today we hit the town and saw about 1/3 of the literally dozens of cathedrals and landmarks, including two belfries and the best views of central Moravia all over.

Sister Bundilova has wanted us to come by for lunch for a long time, and my parents were introduced to Svickova, a really rich cream and vegetable sauce with pork. We then went to see two real castles: Bouzov and Štramberk. If you've been with us since the beginning, Štramberk was the first Czech castle I ever went to and the first trip we took with Renata. My parents were really excited to see both of them, and since there are so many castles that you see from the wayside.

Hope you all are looking forward to all the pictures :) see you soon!

Elder Anderson

Sunday, March 20, 2011

A day in dresden

Here we are once again. My parents are asleep again. They have been doing a really good job staying awake and are mostly adjusted to the time change. Yesterday we spent the day in Freiberg, Visited the temple, and spent the rest of the day in Dresden. We brought a friend from Prague as our guide, Eva. It was really fun getting to use the fragments of German from all those years ago (Danke Herr Knoblauch!) to get around and to interact with those at the temple. In fact, we met a returned missionary from England and his fiancé who went through the temple together for the first time. The wedding is next month, but we were glad to see them so happy.

In Dresden we parked and then had no idea where to go since we had never been there before, but we managed to find the center of town and to make our way into an art museum with suits of armor and works from master painters like Rembrandt. We weren't allowed to take pictures unfortunately, but it was nice to experience.

Church today was kind of overwhelming given all the good byes and changes that are going on right now. Lots of gifts, lots of tears. But no goodbyes were shared today, just see-you-laters. Whether we will meet sooner or later is not as important as just meeting.

Actually, during sacrament today I was thinking about what words express the deepest pathos in The English language. During the prayers over the sacrament I realized that the last two words are it: "with them" or, more particularly "with you". I think that that is what the AtOneMent is all about, and it's neat seeing this part of my mission unfold: letting go and saying my see-you-laters, then saying hellos and being with my parents. I'm looking forward to seeing everyone next week for sure. It can be very hard to adjust sometimes, since life will throw you curveballs, but I know that despite distances or circumstances or whatever we can be together in the end.

We're about to go for a walk down to Vyšehrad to look at the Vltava river and Dvořák's grave. :D it's Going to be good.