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)