Thursday, March 31, 2011

¡Hola!

Wow it has been a BIG week. Lots of Spanish, lots of fish, lots of nutella, lots of translating, lots lots LOTS. The food here is delicious, for the most part. I´ll talk about happy things after so we all end on a positive note because there are SOOOO many positives. Ok so the food. So good. Everything is covered with olive oil (neutral). There is a REALLY popular soup here that with my limited culinary experience, I have come to relate it to baby food, a mixture of mushed peas and who else knows what (bad, bad, bad). Yesterday we had a fake version of paella. um. I really hope the real version is better. There were crushed pieces of shells, whole shells, shrimps that smiled and looked back at you and other creatures from the deep. Imagine the song "Under the Sea" from Little Mermaid dropped into a pan, drenched in oil and put on my plate. That's what is was. (not enjoyable on the tongue). But seriously besides those experiences, everything is so good. Vegetables and fruits here are so good. There's this really popular fruit which is called frogs skin (in English translation) it is SO good. It's some kind of melon that the outside looks like a frog (really gross) but the fruit tastes SOOOOO good. The bread here is so good. We eat fresh bread every day for every meal. However, the pre-sliced bread (why they even have it I have no idea) is FOUL FOUL FOUL. It's really gross. (come on Spain stick to the good stuff) I love Spanish bread(real Spanish bread). I love tortilla Española. So SO SOOO good. Ya the food is good (Jennifer I´ll have to learn how to cook for when I get back).

The temple today was beautiful. The Celestial Room in the Madrid temple is amazing. I love going to bed and waking up and seeing the temple right outside our window.

The CCM is one building. Actually less than that. The CCM is 3 floors. One for classes and the Sala Grande where we have our Big meetings and Sacrament and such, one for bedrooms (of course separated hermanas and elders) and the top floor for the kitchen and comedor where we eat. I love being here. The teachers are amazing. We get to leave the CCM every day and walk around the city or play futbol with the niños. (you probably know which one I pick) But we´re supposed to stay within walking distance. However TODAY on P day we get to take the metro or bus or whatever and go wherever we want. I believe today we´re going to the royal cathedral and probably a museum. I LOVE SPAIN so much. The pure Madrid accent is beautiful (most people here however do not speak the pure Madrid accent, but our teachers do) also the prominent accent in Malaga....¡ay! so in Madrid c and z are pronounced with "th" sound and "s" are pronounced s. Spelling is SO easy with the zeta. Anyways in Malaga most people don't pronounce s at all. One of our instructors is from Malaga and at first I had no idea what she was saying. Something about "Dio y aitir a igleia y lo hermano y que neceitamo eperar en Dio". And some thing like that. (for those of you who speak Spanish I really hope you are as confused as I was) so yes. They don't pronounce "s". But now I know.

My tongue is getting really lazy when I speak in English. My spelling in English continues to dwindle in unbelief and when my teacher asks how to spell a word in English I usually have no idea. Oh one of my teachers speaks like NO English. So every day she´ll be going along trying to explain a meaning in broken English and she´ll say the word in Spanish and ask me the word in English. It's funny.

My district is pretty gringo. I´ll just say thank you to the Lord for blessing me with the gift of tongues and thank you mom and dad for not teaching me how to be a loud annoying American.

my Spanish continues to progress every day with the help of the Lord. I truly have been blessed, so blessed by the lord. I boast in the strength of my God.

Oh here´s a fun fact. This morning going to the temple, the entire CCM oops by the way CCM is Spanish for MTC. I hope I haven't confused you guys. anyways, the entire CCM fit in the elevator down. Ya. We were all in one elevator. A fairly good sized elevator, but still.

I have really gotten close with some elders here. One is from England, Leads. He is hilarious. He is probably the nicest person I´ve ever met. He´s hilarious. When I'm speaking in English its usually to him and my companion. My companion is Awesome. He´s from Draper, Utah but he´s really funny. He´s really into music, he toured with the band Secondhand Serenade last year. He´s really cool. But, when I speak in Spanish its usually with Anziano (elder) Pedreira.

Anziano Pedreira (he´s the only native Spanish speaker here right now) is this Amazing Elder. He´s from Uruguay, he´s a convert of I believe 3 or 4 years, he saved up all the money to go on a mission. He started his papers, had everything ready, was robbed on a bus. all his medical, interview papers, Everything was taken from him. He started them again. Got his call to Italy, had to wait for a year for his visa. A YEAR for his visa. In that year, he helped the missionaries baptize, I want to say 30 people. Ya. He´s incredible. He was my companion when we went to the park.

OH the PARK!!!!!! Every Saturday we go to the park and do contacts. Oh my what a blessing it was to be able to go with him. That was an incredible experience. So we do contacts and we give the contacts to the missionaries here in Madrid. The mission president says that SO many baptisms happen because of these contacts by us greenies. The Lord´s hand is truly in his work. We just have to open our mouths.

I Love being here. I LOVE LOVE LOVE being a missionary, to have the chance to serve the Lord, is just amazing to me. I am so grateful for all of you. I love all of you. I love the people of Spain. I love the country of Spain. There's so much LIFE here. España is full of LIFE. It is truly amazing to be here.

President Earl asked me and my companion to be in charge of the hour of music we do every Sunday night. Ya. This CCM is AMAZING. We have music every Sunday night. Devotionals every Sunday morning. Firesides every Monday morning. Time to walk around (physical activity) every day. A short nap every Sunday afternoon (it is approved by the president). Snack time every night. Movies on Sunday night as well. Basically I LOVE it here.

I love you all so much. I pray for you all every day. The Gospel is True. Jesus Christ blesses families.

He blesses me every day and I know He blesses you every day as well.

Elder Kirkham


Oh my Spain.

Wow. So the cathedral closed at 2:30 or something. But we went and saw the.......... wow, I cannot think of this word. Bull fighting area? I suppose you would call it. Anyways. It was amazing. We got out of the metro and it was right there. Its huge and is all in moor architecture. I might be able to post some pictures later. I hear varying policies of emailing pictures. But perhaps next week. So anyways. We walked around that part of the city and we were just walking and came to these HUGE apartment buildings so we got something to drink and were just walking through the streets and this guy came up to us and we are not really supposed to talk to anyone so everyone was freaking out. Anyways he asked us if we were married because we were in two trios. Anyways I told him no and he told me that he had seen a motorcycle gang called Hell´s Angels and he asked us if we were Heaven´s Angels. And I had no idea what to say to him (we´re not allowed to proselyte in ANY way) so I just told him we were late for a meeting. Anyways. it's a little frustrating not being allowed to do anything in a situation like that. I don´t really even know what I would say to him. Vale

We walked around Plaza de Sol and saw Bob Esponga, Dora the explorer and Minnie mouse. jajajaja. It was so awesome. There were a lot of street performers. SO many street performers. And as usual so many strange looks. One guy was actually really nice to us. He saw us and was like ¡Mormones! ¿dos años verdad? and that he liked us. Mostly it was nice that he wasn´t yelling or glaring at us. Anyways. Spain is awesome.. Everything is hotter as a missionary. In the literally "heat" meaning of the word.

I love you.

Elder Kirkham

Thursday, March 24, 2011

More Madrid

Que guay! Wow Madrid is crazy! So much everywhere. It's so strange because the buildings ALL look the same. They are all made with the same red brick, and I mean EVERY building. But we walked into la gaia and WOW. so much stuff. So much music bright sings awesome crazy cool fashion. Its awesome. I am a little more awake since my last email. I´m about to crash. I´m getting used to 24 hour clock. The food we had for lunch was AMAZING!!!!!! SO good. I´ve discovered that the more traditional "Spaniards" are WAY easier to understand. Than those who use more Hispanic accents. Oh my jajaja los Itlianos are so funny. I also have realized that the Elders in my district don´t know any Spanish.
Well I love you. I´ll talk to you in a week. I love Spain. I love you all.
Chao
Elder Kirkham
I'm in Spain!

Bienvenidos de España!

Oh my! Wow! I never want to leave here! While we were flying over Spain I just sat and thought, How lucky I am. I have been so blessed in all my life. It was sad to leave my district behind, I´ll miss them a lot. Typing on a Spanish keyboard is strange. It's the same layout just the side keys are different. The CCM en Madrid es tan Maravilloso! Wow. We live in one building right next to the temple. There are only 20 missionaries (give or take) here right now. Me and my new companion live in a 6 person room all to ourselves. So much space. Today (Thursday) is my new P Day. We get to go INTO the city! Yes. We aren´t stuck behind the fence anymore. It's so strange to be here. There´s about 8 Americanos y about 9 Italianos right now. I think they are leaving soon. I believe next week we will be getting a French group. This MTC is so amazing. They circulate Spanish, Italian, French, and Portuguese groups. Right now (like I said) there's an Italian group. Wow. I didn't know how similar Italian y Spanish are. Amazing. and NO TIME LIMIT FOR EMAIL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I feel so free here. Everyone is so nice. All the classrooms, the president´s office, the "chapel" are on the same floor. Everyone here knows each other. I have been told that they also circulate the language for the temple sessions. Today was in Italiano. Next week will be in English (so I have been told).

A lady on the plane today was complaining to me in Spanish, that the lady in front of her was making her cold because her air was aimed right at her. She was trying to ask me to tell her in English to turn off her air. The flight attendant then told her that she could move to a different seat. Thank you flight attendant.

Oh and I love that there is a key for ñ. So nice. it's weird and different to type but I´m sure I'll get the hang of it.

We might go out into the city today. I am starting to get really tired. So maybe not. They´re letting us go to bed at 7 tonight. Bless their souls. And people use "th"eta´s here. I´m so happy. I love it here. I think I'll just send my mission president an email NOW asking him to extend my call. Apparently tomorrow we are playing futbol, Americanos versus Italianos. So, pobre americanos. I cannot play for my life.

The rooms, facilities (I think that's how you spell it) are so nice. I do NOT mind being here for 5 weeks. The language is slightly overwhelming. ok pretty overwhelming, but I can pick out a lot. Italian sounds really funny. It sounds like Spanish speakers speaking how we americanos make fun of Italian accents. So I guess we´re pretty dead on.

Oh to my friends I have SOO many letters to send out. I have a HUGE stack that I didn't have time to send before I came. So please hang tight. They´re coming. To Jana especially I think I have 4 letters for you that I have no idea where they crawled away from me. But somehow I never sent them. So please don´t think that I hate you. I don't know why it's always YOUR letters that run away. And I love your letters Jana. I feel so bad that I haven´t sent them. And I feel so bad to everyone else whose letters escape me. Wow. I cannot speak English. The hermano who picked us up from the airport asked me how to say a word in English. I knew the Spanish word....I´ll probably be worse than Andy when I come home.

I just reread this email and realized how scatter brained it is. Oh well. And I use terrible Spanglish, but I won't change anything. And this keyboard is actually REALLY hard to use. maybe because I´m typing in English. Oh no I feel myself pouring out my train of thought. My tiredness won´t let it stop.. Oh The word was population. I remember.

Sorry mom that our call at the airport got cut. I love you. Oh no my head is spinning.

But basically Spain is the most beautiful country I´ve ever seen. The MTC president speaks English. How nice, but not really. Ok it will be good. I don´t know what to type since there´s no doomsday clock ticking away my future. Oh and the MTC just gave me 25€. I don't know what for. I feel really bad for whoever reads this. I love you all. Tengo mucho miedo predicar en el parque el sabado. I hope I'm ready. it's so funny how many people in the airport were nice to us. There was a man in Atlanta that guided us to a table to eat our panda express. he set it all up for us. It's nice to meet nice people. Oh well. It was fun while it lasted (meeting nice people) just kidding well I mean it was nice but I´ll meet more nice people. I wish the Italianos were staying longer. I don´t understand French at all.

I love you. I probably won´t be able to send a lot of mail. I´ll try to do specific shoutouts for pressing information. Oh and Megan I have a letter for you!!!! I have to find out how to send mail.

Well again I love you all. I´m off to go pretend to function. We probably won´t go into the city today. Alright I love you.

7 more hours. nooooooooooooooo

I love you, Elder Kirkham (everyone says keerkam) jajaja

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

OFF TO SPAIN!

I got my VISA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Oh my gosh its crazy. I was out with my companion (who is awesome by the way-we just got placed with each other last Tuesday) and our roommates came and found us and said Elder Kirkham needed to go to the Travel office right away. And I did a dance for joy! Oh the joyous joy that was in that dance. I met with the consulate (who coincidentally is a professor at UVU) and he gave us our visas. It was SO WEIRD to first drive through Provo, then walk through UVU hallways with 4 other missionaries. I honestly didn't know what to do and I know I had such a scared look on my face. I honestly cannot meet anyone in English. I cannot have small talk in English. I have to think SO hard when I meet someone new who doesn't speak Spanish. Its crazy. I am so scared to go to Spain. So excited but SORE afraid tambien. I'm going to be listening to General Conference in Spanish in a week and a half or so. That's crazy. None of the other Elder's in my travel group know any Spanish. I was surprised by that. I think the consulate liked me because I was wearing my Gryffindor tie (which also happen to be the Spain colors) and I spoke to him in Spanish with my "th"eta. He was so coolio. anyways. I bet you're dying to hear WHEN I LEAVE????
I leave TOMORROW!!!!!!!! Ya! I leave Wednesday morning at 11:00. Family here's my itinerary I don't know when I'll call home but I will sometime while I'm waiting at the airport.
Salt Lake 11:10 AM - Atlanta 4:46 PM (Atlanta time)
Atlanta 6:45 PM- Madrid!!!!!!!!!! 8:15 AM (oh my airplane)
I probably will call when I'm in Atlanta waiting. My call "should not take longer than 5 minutes". So I don't have a lot of time to hear your lovely voices but I do get to say hello. Its going to be hard to leave my district. I love my district so much. I love my companion, he's awesome. (he's like 5'4, and a crazy gymnast and does flips and jumps off the bed and whatever else) Ya I'm going to be really sad to leave him after only a week.
Blessings always come! That's what my message is this week to you all. Blessings COME!!!! ALWAYS!!! Almost never when WE think is best, but this last week has been the best week so far here. I know that the Lord allowed me to stay this extra week. I have learned SO much. Received SO many answers to prayers. And been sooooooo unbelievably happy! My English is suffering more than it used to. ( I just wrote a really weird sentence which made no sense-and then deleted it) Sorry friends I write as fast as I can. Please know I love you.
To my Family- I love you ALL. Every one of you. I think about every one of you daily. I Pray for every one of you daily. You are the most important people in my life. Dad, I know I never respond to your letters, but they are SUCH a strength to me. Thank you so much. Jennifer and Stuart- I pray for you every day. I pray that you will find YOUR family, YOUR children, you both are awesome. One of the greatest messages I'm going to teach is how happy we can be with our families, and what a great blessing they are to us. Andy and Rachael and the profetitos (little prophets-I thought that was funny) I love you so much. I laugh every time I see Abe's drawing. jajajaja see I'm laughing now. Sharlene and JT and Kaylin I hope you guys are SOOOOo happy. You guys are so blessed, I'm so blessed to have you guys, I love you so much, and pray that the Lord continues to bless you. Craigery- you're awesome. Just awesome. I love you. I honestly think about you a lot and REALLY wish I had your address (and more time to write) keep up ALL the great work youre doing. I love you so much. Seek the things of God and you will ALWAYS find blessings. Daniel- I hope you're watching plenty of adventure time and fish hooks. jaja. I randomly remember so many clamantha jokes. Keep up the good work in school. You're a smarty arty orange. And the last word for mother- I love you. You and Dad, I cannot thank you enough for all that you've done for me. For helping me become the person I am today. I honestly can never repay you. You mean the world to me. Thank you x100.
I love you all. Para siempre Dios este con vos.
Elder Kirkham

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A Week of Miracles!


Hola!!!!!!!!!!
Cómo están?
This week has been full of Milagros!!!! (miracles) Thank you so much Mom and Dad for the cookies!!!!!!!!! I've been told to send you muchos abrazos from my district. (I shared them with everyone) Thank you Jennifer for my lovely imaginary piece of yellow cake with chocolate frosting. Fue delicioso! Thank you for all the lovely pictures and letters! They literally mean the world to me (they're the only contact with the outside world that I have). It's strange to think that I was supposed to be on a plane to Madrid right now (seriously at this moment) but I am SO grateful for the time I have here. I love it here so much! I seriously cannot believe how QUICK we are learning. Its so scary how often I forget English words!!!!! (when we do revert back to English) Its crazy, sometimes I have to explain something to my companion in English and I FORGET the words!!!!!!! I'm going to be like ANDY!!!!!! jajaja My point is its weird to learn the gospel and how to be a missionary in a new language because sometimes I have no idea what to say to my companion in English.
2 of the Elders in my district are leaving for the Guatemala CCM today. That means that companionships are going to be changed. So I might have new companion(s) later tonight. They're going to have to redo a lot because we're so spaced out with companions and rooms. So I probably will be moving tonight as well. Today at the Temple after our session we helped fold laundry and one of the workers saw our "La Iglesia de Jesucristo" (Spanish) badges and immediately started talking to us in Spanish. AND I UNDERSTOOD!!!!!!!!!! (most of it) But I could talk to him and understand what he was saying!!!!!! So there is hope for me to understand native speakers. OH! and I forgot. Last week I was on one of the bikes during gym and I started talking to the Elder next to me and he said my accent was REALLY GOOD. And that I sounded like a native from España!!!! That lifted my spirits!!!!!!! And mom my district (AND TEACHER!) joke about my accent. We were in TRC (teaching resource center) and I asked my teacher what to say if our investigators ask if I'm from Spain (because while roll playing I thought it would be weird to say "I'm GOING to Spain") and he told me to stop using the accent. I told him I couldn't. And he said try. SO I said try using it! and he laughed (I love him, he just laughs at my accent).
Ok I can't wait any longer. I'm meeting with the consulate next week for my VISA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Es el milagro de esta semana!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! So i guess I'll have some kind of interview with him and I don't know how long after that I'll be able to leave. But I will go to España!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (if someone can research that, that would be great because I really have no idea whats going on or what I have to do) So I am seeing miracles in the MTC! It really is a miracle. The group I came in with (who are not even in my branch i don't understand) who are going to Spain are also meeting with the consulate so the paperwork is at least CLOSE! (I think)
That's my greatest miracle. Every day my own testimony increases and grows. This IS God's work. This is not my work, I am a servant and an instrument in the hands of God. What an Incredible blessing to be trusted with the salvation of souls. I am forever in debt to my Savior Jesus Christ. Without Him I would be nothing. The scripture about losing yourself in the work in order to find yourself is TRUE. God can do SO much more with me than I could ever do on my own. I am VERY blessed in my life. I am blessed with my testimony and knowledge of the Restored Gospel that I have a DUTY and CRAVING to bring to others. I am blessed with all of YOUR love and prayers. I am honored and blessed to know every single one of you who read this. It is together with YOUR love and God's love that has shaped me into who I am today, and I know will continue to shape me. Please pray for the people of Spain. Pray for me please, to be able to find those who are searching for God's love. I pray for you ALL EVERY MORNING, EVENING, MEAL; ALL DAY long I pray for you all. I love you all so much. The Gospel is True. The Gospel Will change our lives. Jesus Christ will change our lives. I love being a missionary. And I love you.
Elder Kirkham

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Gospel is true and Blesses Families

Hola Familia!
Wow. I cannot believe its been 2 weeks! It seems like I've been here for SO much longer for that. Thank you EVERYONE!!!!! for your letters AND PICTURES!!!!! (please send me more drawings I love them (Amy, Abe, and Erika)) and everyone else, letters here are like Christmas!!! DearElder.com is so easy to use and makes such a difference in my days.
Prospects don't look affirmative for my visa, but I really don't care. I'll go wherever I'm supposed to go and I love it here anyways. (and a few extra weeks learning Spanish will be VERY much appreciated) Every day the intercom reads out names of missionaries to go to the travel office for visa information and papers and such and we all (my district) cross our fingers and yell out "Elder Mateo" (which is what they call me when we're not in class because my name is supposed to be Elder KIRKHAM) haha. I love my district. Two of my good buddies in my district were just called to Zone Leaders. CRAZY!
I have a small request, it might sound selfish but I really don't have much time to email. Its difficult to read and respond in 30 minutes (crazy right?) but it's true. So familia who is emailing me, if you could use DearElder.com to email me (I receive them as hard copies) that would give me SOOOO much extra time to reply thoroughly. These computers don't have spell check (because missionaries use so many different languages) so I'm sorry if i spell things wrong.
Me encanta la idioma de Español! Oh my, Spanish makes SOOOO much sense! Finally last night after SOOOOOOOO many prayers, my companions and I got through to our progressive investigator!! I feel like we finally overcame the language barrier (don't get me wrong, i really don know Spanish yet) but we DEFINITELY were finally able to teach her, and about the Atonement too!!! I know we had the help of the Lord. Its so strange/awesome, that even with our "investigators" (our teachers) I feel so much love for them. I want SO desperately to help them and care about their problems in their lives.
My district (because we're "intermediate") is so diverse. I'm the only one in my ZONE/BRANCH who is going to Spain. Some are going to EEUU (united States) there's 2 going to Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador and me to Spain. My companions (2, we're a trio) are going to Baton Rouge and Chile. Don't worry Mom, everyone makes fun of me for using la zeta (lisp). I wish I could send you pictures but I can't email them. If I have time I'll print some out and send them in the mail.
We went to the temple today. Always amazing. I've seen like 5 or 6 people from my BYU wards. My classroom is in one of the old buildings, smells like vinegar and has no central air, but is still AMAZING! I cannot believe how much we learn in that little room!
I love all of you. Thank you thank you! for your awesome letters, please keep them coming and I will reply to you ASAP (i can only write on Tuesdays) but I get mail everyday.
The Gospel is TRUE and blesses families!! I know that that is true. Jesus Christ will bless us and our families.
I Love you all
Elder (Mateo) Kirkham

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Companions, food and fire hoses--first week in the MTC



Familia y amigos!

Oh my gosh! Its so crazy to 1.speak in English and 2. use a computer. Oh my gosh! la CCM (MTC en espanol) es incredible!!! All of my classes, Church, conversations etc. son en espanol! Yo no creo! It is HARD WORK but i already am noticing the blessings that I'm receiving. I am in a trio companionship with Elder Pope y Elder Call. Its difficult sometimes because there's 2 other people to keep track of ALL THE TIME!!!! But we get along fine. Because there's 3 of us its only us three in our room which was obviously added on because it its the only room that has wooden walls. And its super pequeno. Oh I have to mention one of the funniest phrases I've learned is "hechar un pedo" which literally means "to throw a fart". Sorry mom.
The food here....well, the food I eat is good. I pretty much stick to fruit and yogurt for breakfast, wraps (thank goodness) for lunch, and salad and the most appetizing entree for dinner. And I get ALL the diet coke I want. (caffeine free claro)(I mean of course, I wish you could see the process of me typing this letter because I keep typing en espanol but then catch myself and go back). The language is hard. Right off the bat we started hablando en espanol. The first thing we learned to do was pray. How appropriate. Truly that is the most important thing to learn because if we have the help of the Lord, everything else will be taken care of.
There are a lot of sayings here at the CCM (MTC). The ones I've found to be most true are "the days go by like weeks, and the weeks go by like days" and "drinking out of a spiritual firehose". I cannot believe its only been a week that I've been here, but at the same time, I feel like there is so much to accomplish while I'm here. There is so much to learn. We are truly bombarded daily with an amazing explosion of the gospel. One of my favorite phrases for real is "asistir a iglesia" which is used to say "to go to church". We say that we go to church, pero en espanol we build up and asist the church. I think that is so cool.
Today (Tuesday) is my P Day. My district went to the temple today. I love the temple. Luckily we did NOT go to the Spanish session. I'm currently in a WEIRD place because I am NOT used to speaking English, already I'm forgetting words, but I definitely am NOT fluent en espanol. So I'm in some strange in between place.
Oh my do I love sleep. being a missionary is HARD WORK, getting up at 6:30 and going to bed at 10:30 is hard, but the blessing completely and utterly out measure the trials. I couldn't imagine doing ANYTHING ELSE and be as happy as I am doing the Lord's work. Please ALWAYS be kind to the missionaries. I cannot explain or stress HOW IMPORTANT the gospel is in our lives. I know that as we come closer to God, he will bless us. Always. When we are tossed about on the waves of life and it seems like God has forsaken us, we must realize that the waves are to keep us safe as we pass over the rocks below. I love you all. please keep the letters coming.
Elder Kirkham