Thursday, April 26, 2012
I went to the Mission Home Monday and Tuesday for District Leader Conference and Training.
It was SO SO SO Lovely. I feel so spiritually renewed.
My MTC Companion is now assistant to president so he asked if instead of sleeping in the mission home if I could stay with them at their piso. Elder Manning. What a great guy.
I´ll let you know about more stuff. Its been a good week.
I´ve had no P-day
I´m praying for you all.
love you all
Elder manning and I realized that we have about 9 MONTHS left.
Sunday, April 22, 2012
This week made HISTORY in the Spain Málaga Mission. As a mission we dedicated an entire day to JUST FINDING. That means a whole day of knocking on doors, stopping people in the street, handing out cards and Books of Mormon etc. We could only teach a lesson to someone we found that day. We fasted the day before to be able to find those who were ready and searching for the gospel.
It was truly a day of miracles. We called it Día de Diamante (Diamond Day). You see sometimes we have Hora de Oro (Golden Hour) where we dedicate an hour to contact as many people as possible. Well as a mission we found 1400 future investigators on Friday the 13th. Who has bad luck when you have the help of the Lord? We found and taught a woman that day. She reminds me of a woman dad taught on his mission. She opened the door with a scowl, smoking, bad smell coming from her dark piso. But she let us in because she noticed I was an American. She lived in the US for 15 years and speaks English fluently so she wanted to talk to me. Turns out she had a Book of Mormon from YEARS ago. And had gone to church a few times. She opened up to us and told us about all the trials of her life. Divorced twice while living in the US, children still live there. We talked about the healing power of the Atonement. I was surprised how much more comfortable it was teaching in ENGLISH! While we spoke she literally lit up with hope she had lost from all the trials of her life. Does God really know who I am? Am I important to Him? Can I REALLY find forgiveness for everything I´ve done? We were very happy to answer all those questions with a giant YES! We testified that we knew God loved her and cared about her because he had sent US there. After the lesson she prayed and thanked God for sending us to find her. It was a very special experience. I know this is the work of the Lord. Even in little Sanlúcar in CATHOLIC Spain God is preparing His children to hear His Restored Gospel.
We also made a breakthrough with the daughter of one of my FAVORITE families here. This daughter isn't a member and didn´t want anything with the church but her family is trying to go to the temple to be sealed. This week she agreed to read the Book of Mormon and pray about it. I know the Book of Mormon is true and I was glad to testify of that to her. Its NEVER too late.
One of our other investigators who is not completing his commitments came to the fireside we had last night. When we invited him he told us he couldn´t go because it was too windy........¡por favor! Too windy? But after a little coaxing and a little bit of caña ( I don´t know how to say that in English) we got him to go.
This fireside was AWESOME!!!!! A member from Jeréz came and talked about the Bible and the Book of Mormon. This member has an interesting family background. Half Catholic and Half Jewish. He said it was impossible to understand religion as a child because his family had VERY different religious views. He is VERY intelligent from the teachings of his family and understands a LOT of Jewish and Christian History. He found the missionaries years ago and after hearing of Joseph Smith´s First Vision was convinced that THIS was the true church. Well the actual fireside was on the History of the Bible. Where the writings come from. Who, when, how it was translated and changed. (which he could cite VERY specifically it was SO interesting) Short story- the Bible we have today is only 14% of the writings before Constantine but of that 14% not all of that has been translated correctly. He pointed out a lot of passages when we KNOW are not translated correctly from the most ancient copies of Biblical writing we have today. But then he talked about the Book of Mormon. 100% Translated correctly. How it fits in with the Bible. Physical evidence of its truthfulness, but most importantly how WE can know that it is true. We can ASK GOD and receive an answer. What better evidence can we receive?
It was a very good week. I know the gospel is true. That the church of Jesus Christ has been restored, that there ARE living prophets today. And WE can KNOW for ourselves. Ask and ye shall receive. Seek and ye shall find. If any of ye lack wisdom, let him ASK of God.
I know that God answers prayers. He will answer all of our prayers if we have faith that He can.
I love you all. Things are just great. My prayers are with you.
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
April 9, 2012
WOW. What a week! I have now experienced Semana Santa in Andalucía. I don´t know if I´ve ever explained how provinces and such work in Spain. There's the country of Spain- ESPAÑA then the country is divided into Provinces. Madrid, Andalucía, Galicia, La Mancha etc. Then in every province there are little states that I don´t know what they´re called in English. For example, in Andalucía there´s Sevilla, Cádiz, Granada, Málaga etc. Each of these little states have a Capital that shares their name. I was IN Sevilla the state AND the capital city. Here I´m in Sanlúcar which is part of Cádiz. Which is the capital. So I don´t know if you´re now saying- Well DUH. Or if you´ve learned something new. Anyways. Andalucía is the deep south of Spain. Spanish traditions are the strongest here. (duh Matthew)
Last year I was in the CCM (MTC) in Madrid and Semana Santa is VERY different in Andalucía. Semana Santa is BIGGEST and most popular in Sevilla. I started my mission in Sevilla about a week and a half after Semana Santa. Oh darn. But don´t worry there were still plenty of processions the month AFTER as well. And I did see the Feria. What am I doing thinking about "LAST YEAR" in my mission.
I´m far too old.
Well this week I finally saw Semana Santa in ALL its glory. People come from ALL over Europe to see Semana Santa in Andalucía. We were climbing up to Barrío Alto (the neighborhood higher up) and we had to pass by the castle. And as we were climbing WHAT did we see?
if we were in the United states you would SCREAM. "ELDER! ITS THE KKK!!!!!!!!!!" but in SPAIN you would scream "¡MIRA! élder. ¡Un PASO!" (look Elder! a procession!)
There was a HUGE group of the penitentes (KKK hat wearers who follow all the processions for Semana Santa) Every Hermandad (Brotherhood? that's what they call them) is in charge of a paso (procession) and they have different colors. This specific paso had penitentes in BLACK robes. Well imagine climbing up a Spanish callecita passing an old castle and seeing DEATH EATERS up ahead. That's what happened to us. (WHERE'S MY WAND HARRY?) hee hee hee
So we ( I ) got excited (Elder Hoyos lived in Spain for a few years) and took a shortcut up to the other side of the castle and I whipped out my well prepared wand.... I mean camera and got a lovely little video of the paso.
That was Wednesday I believe. Then Friday we went to visit a member who was going to the temple but was really stressed for matters I will explain after, and she asked for a blessing before she left. (it's a 7 hour bus ride) So we went and gave her a blessing then we were walking with her because we had to go to Barrío Bajo (neighborhood downhill next to the ocean) and she was going to the bus station ALSO in Barrío Bajo.
So we were walking and we saw a paso so we decided to take another street. We had to walk through a HUGE crowd of people (we thought they were there to see the first paso) but then we literally RAN INTO another paso. Imagine a HUGE crowd of dressed up Spaniards, penitentes (KKK), a marching band, and then one of the most FAMOUS pasos (a giant virgin María holding the dead body of Christ) going along their little path then two missionaries and a woman with a HUGE bag running along beside it. I honestly felt a little bad but we were in a HUGE rush to get her to the bus station. The truth is it's just a huge crowd, people talking, smoking and people are always running around trying to get through. It was just funny missionaries in WHITE shirts and a lady with her big bag running alongside this giant virgin statue.
That's the mission for ya. Well in Spain at least.
Rocío´s husband Eduardo who has been unemployed for a LONG time has started working these last few weeks at a construction site. Well on Wednesday he was on a roof and a crane malfunctioned and kept swinging its load (towards him Eduardo) so instinctively he dodged the crane but in doing so fell from the roof. He was taken to the hospital in an ambulance. Then moved to Cádiz. He has about 13 broken ribs (some shattered) a punctured lung (from a rib) one of his vital organs (name in English I don´t know) in spanish "Vaso" and from my limited medical vocabulary in Spanish, Something in his head or brain was also affected his medula? I don´t use too many medical works.
Rocío who suffers from anxiety attacks, fainted. We were in the hospital for about an hour with them. We weren´t allowed to see him, but we were with the family. He was moved to Cádiz and the members there immediately moved into action. Priesthood blessing, relief society food etc. He is in an induced coma. The situation is serious. But thanks to the members they are doing so much better. Thanks to our Heavenly Father he is still alive.
The member who WE gave a blessing to was affected too because 2 days before the accident they "celebrated" for lack of a better word, the death of their father 4 years. Who fell from a roof and died instantly. It was a very unwelcome shock for her family as well. But everything is better because it´s in the Lord´s hands. But it has been a hectic week. The members of the stake went to the temple and the youth from Sanlúcar brought me a white rock from around the olive tree on the temple grounds. I love the Madrid temple.
Well I believe that's it. Work was a little difficult with Semana Santa but people are progressing poco a poco. Little by little.
Love you all. I know our Savior lives. I know He loves us. His atonement and suffering is VERY REAL and we truly can have lives with more hope and happiness because of Him. I love my Savior and I love my Father in heaven.
I love you all. Don´t forget to pray and read the scriptures. Go to church. Spend time as a family. And listen to the Prophet.
Monday, April 2, 2012
This week I was SICK! I was in bed ALL afternoon on Tuesday. The stomach flu that Elder Hoyos had last week came again and found ME! No fun. I was drinking aquarius (which is a spanish sports drink) for 2 days. I didn´t eat anything else. After that I graduated to toast and soup and a potato. Now I´m fine. Thank goodness.
Hurray for CONFERENCE!!!!!!! It was SO AMAZING!!!!!!! I can´t believe I didn´t like conference as a child! What was I thinking? I guess its just like eating your vegetables. It comes with maturity. Matoority. (just like you say it mom) :) But even though I would have rather built a fort or play on the computer as a little kid I always KNEW that I should have been watching conference. That's the absolute best a parent can do. Just like how I tell my companions. My mom DID teach me to be more organized and less messy. Its just ME not heeding her perfect counsel. hehehehe How are you reacting to this now Mom? Just kidding. I´m a lot better than before. But I DO make sure that all imperfections I have do not spawn from negligent (spelling?) parents. They taught me good. I just don´t listen good.
I think one of my favorite talks was from Elder Nelson. He started talking about going to visit an aquarium and asking the attendant, "Who feeds all these fish?" She responds, "I do." Then he asks, "Have they ever THANKED you for feeding them?" "Not yet." Then he talked about how in our big fish tank of life we take for granted of the lovely pellets that show up when we need food. Little do we notice or think about He who feeds us. Our lovely little blessings just seems to come from no where but they actually come from a loving Father who knows our needs and is VERY conscious of our needs and knows exactly when to sprinkle the blessings into our tank. I loved that.
He also talked about the wonder and miracle the human body is. He actually knew what he was talking about. Then in response to some people´s belief of a big bang causing everything we have, he said, "Would an explosion in a printing shop create a dictionary? Much less a dictionary that can repair its torn pages?" I had a good laugh from that. But it is so true. Everything around us tells us that we with the animals and plants and EVERYTHING come from someone who had a creative plan. We´re not here just by coincidence.
We watched the first session Saturday afternoon in a locutorio (where we do email every week) then Sunday we went to Cádiz and watched the priesthood session, then Saturday afternoon, then Sunday morning LIVE. All of us missionaries made a big lunch between sessions. It was good. I also got to see one of my teachers in the Madrid MTC. She is from the Cádiz stake and she came to visit this week. Semana Santa that means virgins, crosses, and vacation. The country of Spain still revolves around Catholic holidays. I´m not complaining. This week people aren´t working or in school so we can TEACH them.
Last week I was in Jerez to do a baptism interview and since its a large city they have more processions. They had a little kid procession. There was a little virgin on top of their altar that they carried down the street. That was for the little kids. The REAL virgins and images are COVERED with gold and candles and EVERYTHING. People tell us that the people who carry them bleed from the hands and shoulders because they´re SO HEAVY. These people really have SO much faith and love for the images and statues. Its good. They just forget the rest of the year that they have that faith. Oh well. No one´s perfect. Oh I do think its kind of funny because the´ve set up little bleachers along the main roads so people can reserve their little area to watch the pasos.
If you would like to see more about what I´m talking about I bet you could google search "Semana Santa Pasos en Sevilla" I´m absolutely sure there will be a lot of videos and pictures. That's Spain for ya. And people are so surprised when they ask me what Semana Santa is like in the United States and I tell them that we don't have anything´like here. We mainly just celebrate Easter Sunday. The truth is during this week everyone is REALLY thinking about Christ and His sacrifice. Along with the virgins and sort, every day they have something of the last week of Christ´s life. Yesterday they had the statue of Christ riding in on the donkey. They will have "el cautivo" the captive Christ when he is brought to be judged. Then on Friday there will be Christ on the Cross. That's the most important to them. And I honestly don´t know what else since I´ve never experienced Semana Santa before. Its a tradition different from ours but I do appreciate and value the importance these people give to Christ´s sacrifice. My favorite is the Resurrected Christ. Not only did He suffer and die but He lived again and He STILL lives. He lives and directs His restored church and we had the opportunity to hear from His servants and prophet His will for us today.
I hope this week we can all think in what we are celebrating. The life, love and sacrifice of our Savior. What a great blessing to be a missionary. What a great blessing to know that He Lives and He Loves us. I know and testify that He does. What a blessing to know that because of His church and Priesthood and Temples I will be with my family forever.
My prayers are with you all. I love you all. Remember His arms are always open to us. No matter what.