Monday, November 24, 2014

Picture November 24, 2014

Barrio Dos

November 24, 2014 Letter

Well right now it´s 10 in the morning, almost 11 actually, and we are prepping up to play some futbol! I am very excited and that will probably become more and more apparent in this email. To start off, as usual, I will answer your questions.

This week has been mostly good! There were a couple really hard days, but for the most part, it´s been good.  Nobody came to church yesterday, so that also added to the slightly frustrating number battle that we´ve been having. But I know that it´s really not about the numbers, it´s about the people, and we have some fantastic people right now. The family is doing so good! Last week we had another lesson with them and the mom is an angel and like, already a missionary. She´s been talking to people about the Gospel! At work, she told everyone about the Chapter in the Book of Mormon that she was reading (Alma 32 about faith) and she actually invited a friend that she had to the lesson! Her friend, Janina, is golden. Absolutely golden. She invited us back to have another lesson separately with her later in the week, and that went really really well. She´s awesome. None of them came to church which was a little bit heartbreaking for both of us, but it´s ok! Back to the drawing board, as they say.

 We had some good lessons on the street this week, as well! We starting talking to this one lady who was sitting on a bench from Hungaria and she was SO RUDE. Before the mission, I hated contention and awkward moments and I still sort of do! But I don´t know what happened, but something just lit up inside me when she started saying these extremely rude things to us- I just had it. I started preaching like I´ve never preached before! I didn´t back away, and I was proud of myself! It was a good moment for me to stand up for who I am and what I believe in and not back down.
Hopefully I can continue to get better at that.

Spanish is surprisingly becoming less and less of an issue. I´m not good yet, but I´m really improving, thanks to the divine help that I have and the fact that I have a very native companion. It´s coming, slowly but surely. Ok, to finish this email up, I will end with a funny story and a spiritual story, good?

Ok so the following story reprises the stupidest thing I did all week. So we were in the piso and I was waiting for Hermana Irigoyen to finish up in the bathroom so that we could leave and go start working. I wasn´t hungry but rather concerned about the lack of food that we had in the house, so I was looking around to see what we had to make sure we didn´t need to go to the grocery store. I opened up the freezer and before that moment, I didn´t realize how cold our freezer truly was. SO COLD. There were icicles and it like, fogged up when I opened it. I just got lost in this moment of fascination with this stupid freezer, and for some reason, I decided to see if my fingers would stick when I touched the inside of the freezer. They did a little bit, and that was so cool to me, for some reason. So, being me, I decided to lick my ring finger on my right hand to see if I could make it stick even more. So I licked it, stuck it to the bottom of the freezer, and it immediately froze. Like, my finger was both frozen and stuck. I was FREAKING OUT and it hurt so bad! I couldn´t get my finger off! So I started yelling, "Hermana... HERMANA!!" and she couldn´t hear me because the fan in our bathroom is so loud and wow I was so scared. So I just grabbed my hand with my other hand and just ripped my finger off of the freezer. Luckily, I didn´t lose any skin, but I still have a blister. Yes. You can get blisters from the cold. So I guess you could say that I still not the most highly intelligent human being on the planet.

Ok, spiritual story to end this sucker. So we were at Zone Conference this week, and I was in charge of playing the piano for two special musical numbers. I got the music for both the day before, so I only had a couple hours at medio dia to practice and I was so, so nervous. The first one was fine, but the second one was harder and there were only two girls singing, which meant everyone could really hear the piano. We performed in the middle of the AP´s talk. The song was "If the Savior Stood Beside Me", and that title was the theme of their talk. They talked about how the Savior is literally with us, we just can´t see Him, and if we follow spiritual promptings and let Him help us, we will feel His presence. I felt the Spirit SO STRONG during their talk, and I really, really didn´t want to ruin that Spirit by making a lot of mistakes on the piano. So I just said a prayer and asked God to help me at least not ruin the Spirit. I was praying and praying, and as I got up to play, I honestly felt someone else take over. I cannot tell you how I hit the notes that I did. It wasn´t perfect, but it was good, and I know it wasn´t me playing. It was really, literally my Savior. I know that. I know that He cares about the BIG things in our lives, but also the little, stupid ones, like playing the piano well. He will magnify our abilites and help us with everything, if we can just turn to Him and let Him help us. He is literally always there, and I felt that in a very real way during that song. It was a good experience for me, one that I don´t think I´ll ever forget.

So, life is good! Missions are amazingly hard and amazingly beautiful. I know that God loves us all and that He can fix things that nobody else can. I love Spain, I love Spanish, and I really just love the people here! I love you all so much, mom! I hope you all had a good week and I can´t wait to hear how this one will go!!

November 17, 2014 Letter

 We had some hilarous experiences this week that just made me so happy. One of my favorites was in the Metro. We were sitting on the bench, waiting for the train, and there was this old couple sitting across the tracks from us. They were ADORABLE. He kissed her on the cheek and I started to just smile at them, I couldn´t help it! They saw me smiling and they started smiling back at me and then I made a little heart sign at them and they started laughing so hard. It was just this little moment of love and I loved it, needless to say. We saw a very dramatic break up in the street (they were SCREAMING at each other and crying and wow it was crazy) and a guy got arrested on the bus that we were on this morning! So yeah, life is good. Interesting, as usual. 

This week I learned a lot about the power of prayer. There are moments out here when I just don´t think I can do it anymore. Little moments, but they´re really hard for me and they always make me wonder how in the heck I am going to do this for 14 more months. In those moments, I´ve learned that the only thing that helps is prayer! Telling Heavenly Father EVERYTHING is the only way to make EVERYTHING better. The more specific and direct and sincere we are in our prayers, the more specific and direct and sincere He will be in the answers to our prayers. It´s beautiful and I am grateful for it. My testimony grows more and more every week! I am changing and I know that progress comes a little tiny bit at a time, but it comes. Patience is key! Patience, faith, diligence, and prayer. I know that missions are hard. I have a testimony of that. :) But I also know that they are worth it. I love it out here!!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

November 10, 2014 Letter

 Ok to answer your questions: Typical day (I am going to do this Taylor Aramburu style. I asked him the same question a few weeks ago and the response was hilarious, so here goes my attempt to imitate it)
6:54- The alarm goes off and I am very confused for like, a half a second because I always forget where I am and which side of my bed the wall is on, so that results in a really painful waking up experience.
6:59 I get up in an attempt to be more obedient than my very-obedient companion (kidding. I get up at that time so that I can get to the bathroom first. We share).
7:05- Exercise! This either involves going jogging around Madrid or stretching/doing situps in the kitchen. Depending on the day.
7:30 Either she showers or I shower. We run out of hot water EXTREMELY fast and something I have learned is that Argentinians take an EXTREMELY long time in the shower, so I like to get there first so that there is water left for me. The other day we ran out completely, so I boiled a pot of water and used that and a washcloth to sanitize myself.
8:00 Breakfast which means that I eat cereal and bananas and read the Liahona (my companion is not a morning person, which means that by this time, we still haven´t said a word to each other)
8:30 PERSONAL STUDY. My fav time of the day. Working on reading the entire Book of Mormon by Christmas. In Spanish. Also working on studying PME and other materials in order to be a killer teacher.
9:30 Buddy study. We sing a hymn, say a prayer, read from the white bible and then talk about what we studied and do practices. This is the first vocal interaction we have with each other all day. :)
10:30 I study some Spanish while Hermana Irigoyen studies English.
11:00 Out the door! Contacting, tracting, teaching appointments, saving souls and taking names (and numbers)
2:00 Medio DIA! I like Medio Dia. We eat and do some other stuff. Sometimes nap. Sometimes not.
4:00 WORK UNTIL 9:30.
9:30 Walk in, take my shoes off (my current companion has no sense of smell so that helps at this time of the day) and plan for the next day.
10:00 One hour to wind down, kick our feet up and read some scripts, drink hot chocolate and have hilarious conversations in Spanglish.
11:00 Try to remind myself which side of my bed the wall is on, prayers, and I am OUT.

So yes. That is a very detailed description of a typical day here in Spain. I love it. 4-9:30 is my favorite time of the day. Mornings are always weird but once we´re warmed up, things always get better.

Also, giving thanks is not a thing here in Spain.  Unfortunately, America is the only place that has turned that Christlike attribute into a holiday. But it´s alright, maybe we can start something this year (what day is Thanksgiving on?).  This week was a WHOLE lot better than last week. Whole lot better. I still haven´t taken any pictures since Hermana Irigoyen got here, so I promise I will this week. I keep forgetting that that is a thing to do. We worked super hard and had a real good time doing it. She´s awesome and we really are becoming great friends. We are super different, right down to the langauge in which we communicate, but it works! We are doing well as a companionship.

 On Monday we had a really cool experience. I was a little frustrated (as you saw) and I really just didn´t want to go out and contact. But we did. We were knocking doors and no one was answering and those that did hung up on us (knocking doors really means ringing timbres). We were approaching this building and I just looked at Hermana Irigoyen and said "We are going to find someone that is interested in the message here, I have faith that we will." Alas, we rang all the timbres and NOBODY was interested. As we were turning to walk away, this lady came up with her two daughters to go into the building (she lives there). She asked us who we were looking for and we just said something very cheesy missionary like "Just someone to share a message about Jesus Christ with!". She smiled and said, "Come back anytime, I´d love to listen". Like. What. And get this. We asked her what her name was- Milagros. Spanish for Miracles. We literally found our miracle. So cool. We have had one lesson with her and although she is stalwart Catholic, she is very interested in learning more! So I´m hoping Milagros can keep living up to her name.

 We´re praying to find a family to teach and so far, nothing. But we will find one, I know it! Families are the coolest. Let´s see- Spanish is coming along! I was talking to Hermana Irigoyen about something the other day and after we had been talking for about a half hour, I realized that I had been speaking in Spanish the whole time. Not perfect Spanish, mind you, but Spanish! It was such a cool moment! She helps me a lot with the language. I hope I´m able to help her just as much with English. She speaks really, really well, though.

 I feel happy and like things are going well. There are tough moments in every week on the mission, maybe even everyday. But there are more happy moments than hard and as long as we show the Lord that we´ll just keep going, He´ll help us get through it and bless us for it later. I have SO much to improve on and work on but Taylor said it best-"If you ever don´t feel like you´re changing lives, just look at  your own". It´s so true. I feel like my life is so different now than what it used to be. I mean, I´ve only been here for 4 and a half months but I just feel like a different, happier, stronger person. I know that´s because my testimony has grown and I´ve started to trust in God more and more. Still have a lot of work to do and a lot of ground to cover, but I know that I´m on the right path! Missions are WEIRD. So weird. So hard. But just because it´s weird and hard doesn´t meant that we can´t be so happy doing it. Not all the time- of course not! Nobody is happy all the time, even when they´re wearing a chappa. But really, at the end of most days, after all the hard moments and the grind, I am so happy! And I know that the Gospel makes other people happy too. It´s not just salvation for the next life, it´s peace during this one. God wants us to be HAPPY! And the best way to do that is by doing what He´s so wisely and lovingly asked us to do. SO yeah, I´m doing good.

I love you all! I hope all is well and that life is good! Keep me updated, I love hearing about everything. I hope you´re doing good, Momma! And Dad too, of course. I love you guys! I have the greatest family EVER!!


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

November 3, 2014 Letter

Dear Mom and Family

Well. This week has been interesting! It´s hard adjusting to a new companion but we´ve become really good friends and I think things will go well with her. She´s very serious, very obedient, very calm and very  level headed. Good things! Really good things. Just a different personality and it´s been an interesting week for both of us to get used to each other. She´s an incredible missionary, to the point where I sometimes feel like I´m being trained again. She´s a great example to me and I´ve learned a lot from her. We´ve been working with people and it´s been a struggle finding new investigators. But we will continue to work on it! Today I am feeling a bit frustrated and down, for some reason, but this week has been mostly good. I just don´t feel like I´m being a good enough missionary, really. I have a LOT to work on- language, teaching skills, knowing the scriptures well, obedience in the little things, contacting- basically everything needs improvement. It´s been an interesting week realizing how far I really have to go. There are a few investigators that we have that Hermana Irigoyen wants to drop and that I want to keep working with, and that´s been sort of hard for me. It´s hard to work with people for a long time and then to have someone new come in and tell you that we should drop them. But she has a lot of good points and we´re going to be ok, we just have to figure somethings out. But it´s a good area and we have some good missionaries here and I know that everything is going to be ok. Just a rebuilding week! Spanish is still frustrating. I want to speak Spanish soooo badly and I´ve been learning a lot this week with Hermana Irigoyen, but still a lot to learn. Valentin is doing good! I got your letter to him and gave it to him and he was really really happy. He said to tell you thank you. He´s very close to getting a job! Just keep praying for him and I know that he´ll be able to find one. His Spanish is getting a lot better, too, so that helps a lot. I´m just a little frustrated with everything today. But it´s ok! Everything is going to be ok.
Yesterday I was fasting for my testimony to be stronger so that I can testify to people with more of the Spirit, and then we went to Church and as soon as I realized it was fast and testimony meeting, I had this huge spiritual prompting to get up and bear my testimony, which terrified me! But I did it. I got up and said what I wanted to say and I just felt the Spirit so strongly. It was a really cool experience because I feel like it was an answer to my prayers. I know that the old addage "you gain your testimony in the bearing of it" is true. I also gained a bigger testimony of fasting yesterday. I know that fasting and prayer brings miracles! That was probably one of the coolest moments of the week. That and seeing how much the investigators that we do have actually like and trust me. I thought a lot of that would leave with Hermana Fuller, but turns out that they like me too! That was a tender mercy this week.
Well, mom, sorry to be such a downer! It´s just been a little hard this week. But I know it will get better! I have faith! :) I love you so much, thanks for the email. I love hearing about everything. Tell everyone hi and that I love them tons and tons!! Love you all!!

PS- I didn´t take any pictures this week. So next week for sure. :)