Monday, June 15, 2015

June 15th, 2015 Letter

This is my very first time writing a full email on my iPad! We got them this week at a zone conference and we were all pretty excited. It's pretty hard to type, actually, so forgive me if there are words spelled wrong or whatever. I'll try my best. 

The zone conference was good! We had to be on a bus for 2 hours in order to get there on time. It was in Leon, which is a long ways away but still in our zone. So different from being in Madrid!! We were on the Metro for 30 minutes max in Madrid to get to any meeting that we had, and it's so different here. So anyways. I love the north. It's like, a different mission. So many different things!! It's harder, but so much more beautiful. The people are, generally, a lot stronger in their testimonies, even though there are a lot less of them. I've just come to appreciate the little things a lot more and I'm grateful to be doing this work, especially in the place that I'm doing it. I've also grown a lot in my love for the Spanish people and the Spanish culture. May sound weird, but the truth is is that up until this point, the work we've done has mainly been with South American people. There really aren't that many here, so it's really helped me grow to love and appreciate the Spanish culture.



Right now I am with the senior couple that serves here in Gijon , the Browns. We ate breakfast at their house and now they're driving us around in their car in the really pretty, hilly parts of Gijon. We're basically just on a little drive. It's cute. It's like having grandparents here and it's really cool. They're awesome. It's been a very LONG week. I'm so tired. Actually, I feel better today, but yesterday we were both just dragging. We had 2 trips to Leon this week, which is 4 hours total each time on a bus. One was for the zone meeting thing (1 year on the mission and I still get confused about the difference between zone conferences and zone meetings) and the other was for district conference (like stake conference but for branches) yesterday. It was really good. Our sweet mission president, President Jackson, spoke. He actually came around and gave us our final interviews this week, as well. They're leaving in about 2 weeks, so Sunday was my last time seeing them for a long time (not until I get home). He spoke about what to do to prepare for a mission, and it almost made me cry. I just had a little moment when I realized that for my whole life, I was basically preparing for and talking about and living for the fact that someday, I could be a missionary!! And now I'm actually doing it and loving it and just taking it all in. It goes by so fast, but I'm so grateful for this experience. It means the world to me, no matter how hard it can be sometimes.


This week was hard, work wise, but we're ok. It's just super, super hard to find here. You can be on the street for hours and literally not get any references. But we have been blessed to find a few really cool people. We haven't seen the Muslim lady yet, but we have an appointment with her the next Sunday. The umbrella guy we are meeting with on Tuesday. Tomorrow. And we found this new guy named G. through a menos active named M. He's from Cuba and he just moved into a room in the piso where she lives.  We also had a little bit of a miracle this week with this girl named D. We had no idea that she even existed, but she just showed up with a member that we were helping with visits and told us that she had been baptized when she was 13 in Alicante. She is 19 and just super cool, and it's a miracle because we've been really really praying to have JAS here because we have literally NOBODY. She is the only JAS we have as of right now and she's just reactivating herself. She is really so cool and just wants to change her life, because she fell away for a long time. But she is awesome and willing to help us with visits, which is another miracle because we've kind of had a hard time with that (members in lessons). And I just feel like she's really become our friend. I really do like her a lot and were just grateful for her.

Well, I've written a lot! Haha sorry. It's been a good week and we're both doing really great. We're just gonna keep working and praying for little miracles. Pray for the work here!! We need as much help as we can get. I love you all so much. This week I just want to remind you all of your covenants that you've made with the Lord. Covenants are the building blocks that keep our lives centered on Christ, and when we do all that we can to keep them and make them a part of our daily lives and actions, we can feel God so much more in our presence. He will always keep his end of the covenant, we just need to always remember to do all that we can to keep our end. I love you!! Have a stellar week, love ya all.


Selfie w/ art

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Quality vs. Quantity June 8, 2015

Yeah, Gijón really is SOO North. Are we really close to France? I didn´t realize. All I know is that people´s accents here are funny. They sound more Italian to me, sometimes. Especially when they say the word "iglesia". It´s like I´m on the Godfather movie or something. I can´t really describe it, I don´t know. The piso is good. It´s actually pretty nice. Our oven sucks (we´ve made cookies twice and burned them.. twice). And the bed is hard. But besides that, can´t complain. There´s a lot of stray cats that walk around on the roofs outside our piso and sometimes I´m tempted to shoot them with the watergun that I found the other day, but that has yet to come to pass. I´m trying to be mature in all aspects of my character, like it says in the white bible. But it´s really tempting, at times.

 Did we teach any lessons this week? What a great question... haha. We TRIED to teach lessons this week, and had some success. We definitely tried to find people and work hard. And we did work hard! Sometimes it´s easy to lose animo on the street here. But we have a goal to knock doors more, because it seems like a lot of members here have been found knocking doors.  We found 3 great new people this week. One is actually this Muslim lady from Gabon. We were out contacting one morning and everybody was just rejecting us left and right, and I saw this black lady sitting down on our way home and I said to my companion, I am not going home without at least ONE reference. So we approached this lady and she ended up being really nice and normal and kind. Her native language was French, so I told her this story about how bad my French is and she started crying because she was laughing so hard, and she told us, I´m only going to give you my address because I like you girls so much! So she gave us her address and told us to stop by on Sunday. We stopped by with a French Book of Mormon and ended up teaching the first lesson that Sunday. She is actually REALLY open to listen and she promised us she´d read. She was just so normal and so nice. We are really excited about her, and she although she says that she is Muslim, she is a Muslim convert from Christianity. So we really have faith that she can find that faith again that she left behind. :) We´re excited. 

We also had a pretty cool experience the other night. It was raining and we were exhausted and we were just getting failed left and right. We were both feeling pretty down, but I saw this guy walking by and I knew that we needed to talk to him. So we stopped him (used our umbrellas to block him off a little bit), and he actually ended up being so cool! We gave him a Book of Mormon and he was just thanking us. It just felt really good. I´ve found here that the little things really do become the biggest miracles, because it really is so different from Madrid. In Madrid, little things like this kind of stop feeling so good and cool, because they happen a lot more often. Being here in Gijón has really helped me realize how important and cool this work really is, and how many miracles a day we truly do experience. It´s been a humbling experience for me to be here. It is so HARD. But so beautiful and I really do love it. 

I will now make reference to the beginning of my email. So, as I have mentioned, our rama is soo small. There are about 50 active members, max. It´s been really on my mind lately, "The Church is true- so why is it so hard for people to accept and live? Why aren´t there more people?" I wouldn´t say that it had been troubling me, but I have been worried about the numbers lately and how they just don´t seem to be going our way, as missionaries and as a church. So it was fast and testimony meeting yesterday and I was sitting there, fasting and thinking about my testimony of Jesus Christ and how grateful I am to partake of the Sacrament each week. I wanted to get up and express my testimony, but something told me that it wasn´t my turn to do it, and that I needed to listen. So I sat there, listening, and I was blown away. These people- there aren´t a lot of them. But their testimonies? Phew. They really have incredible testimonies. Each and every person that stood up bore simple and powerful testimony of our Savior and of His Gospel. There wasn´t a word said that wasn´t fueled by the Spirit and the content of their hearts. And as I was sitting there, something came to my mind. There is a quote from Elder Packer from last October´s conference that I LOVE, and it applied perfectly to the situation that we were experiencing.  "...But no matter how large the organization of the Church becomes or how many millions of members join our ranks, no matter how many continents and countries our missionaries enter or how many different languages we speak, the true success of the gospel of Jesus Christ will be measured by the spiritual strength of its individual members. We need the strength of conviction that is found in the heart of every loyal disciple of Christ.
A testimony of the hope of redemption is something which cannot be measured or counted. Jesus Christ is the source of that hope." 
It´s very true. Strength doesn´t come in numbers. Strength comes in consecration and in diligence and in our own, personal testimonies of the Savior. If was are spiritually strong and we help and encourge those around us to feel the same, we are successful in our lives and as a Church. Number wise, there are very few of us! There really aren´t a lot. I´ve seen that more and more, as has every single missionary in the world, I think. But what I´ve also seen is strength in these people. They are pioneers and it inspires me every single day. I love what I am doing and I love where I am, I love the things that I can learn every single day. I´m happy. Life is good.

My companion and I are happy and doing well. She´s really awesome and we get along great. Nothing much more to report. Things are going great!! Thank you for everything, mom and dad. I love you both so much!! Thank you for always being there for me and for being seriously the best parents ever. I love you and I miss you, but everything is good here!! Love you both. (and the rest of the fam)

Love, Sam 

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

June 1, 2015 Letter

The first week in the North has been awesome, I´ve been loving it so much. We´re really working hard here and trying to figure out the best way to do this- it´s SO different than Madrid. Like, in B8, I was in the biggest ward in Madrid, one of the biggest in the entire country, and now I´m here in this teeny tiny branch of 50 active members and it is just so different. Also, yes, it is the first day of June, and yes, I am wearing a sweater and a scarf. A little bit different, but it´s all good! Oh there is just so much to tell you and I have no idea how to fit it all in... I guess I´ll just do what I can! 

I´m glad to hear that Diego emailed you, we weren´t sure if I was going to have time to email so he told me that he could fill you guys in.  I miss that family a lot. That´s been a hard part of this week (missing everyone), but it´s ok! Life moves on. I really do love it here. It´s SO DIFFERENT. Ok. I seriously feel like I´ve been called to a different mission, being here and everything. 

Ok so Gijón, Gijón. It´s little. The city is little, the branch is little, the people are little! It is basically all Spanish people, which makes contacting a little bit harder but also a lot more fun. I have, in the past week, really grown to love the Asturian people (Asturias is the state that we´re in, Gijón is the city). I have faith that we´re going to be able to baptize a few of them and see some results!! I know it´s possible. It´s not going to be easy, but it will be possible! We talked in district meeting about the vision that we have for our areas, and the next day in companionship study Hermana Stephenson and I talked about it and had some deep thinking, and decided that this was our vision- "Find people that will be a strength and strengthen people so that they can find". The branch here has had a string of baptisms that have later gone completley inactive. Which is like, the opposite of what we are trying to do. What´s the point of baptizing somebody if they later just go inactive?? I don´t get it. So we are working on finding Spaniards that will stay here and stay strong. It´s poco a poco, but I know that we are going to see success. I know I¨m here for a reason and that if I listen to the Lord and to His spirit, I can play the part that he needs me to play. We don´t have a ton of investigators right now. We´re teaching an 11 year old named I. who is awesome, but he needs his mom´s permission to get baptized and he doesn´t have it. So our goal is to get the family involved in the lessons and teach them the best we can. We have a few more people that are really good, but not a lot. We´ve found some good people on the street, as well, and we´ve been knocking a lot of doors. That´s been interesting. But little by little, this is gonna work out!! I love it here,

 I really do. My companion is awesome.  We have the same work ethic, the same love of the Gospel, and the same sense of humor. So it´s been a huge blessing to be with her. We´re really happy and we work hard to improve every day.