Tuesday, December 30, 2014

La Primera Navidad

First Christmas in Spain.

"You can't say no to a running missionary in a Santa Hat on Christmas!"
Running. There was a LOT of running this week, and especially on Christmas Day as we tried to pull things together for Xiomara's baptism. Leaving the baptism dress at the piso, having to make and print the program in 20 minutes, missing the metros and pulling together a musical number; It was a fanatic day, but a fantastic one, and I learned that even when things don´t go perfectly... you can still have perfect moments.

 Hermana Gillette (The other Sister Training Leader and part of the other companionship in our piso) finished her mission today. Her poor companion is having a rough go of it. We're going to be a trio until the next transfer in 3 weeks. Then MY companion will go home and two others will be brought in for us. But until then, we are three missionaries (two newbies and one old timer) covering two areas, two different wards, and (probably) having all kinds of adventures.

I hope you all had a Merry Christmas and wish you all a Happy New Year!

Spiritual thought: I love the Christmas story. Christmas Day is over, but the message and the spirit doesn't have to leave (especially since here, we still have Dia de los Reyes). Read Luke 2 again and remember these two little Christmas phrases.
- Are you part of the "Inn" crowd, or one of the "Stable" few?
-Wise men still seek Him.

Summary: Christmas isn't really over, and changes happen quickly.

Bonus email:
Spain has Dia de los Reyes... as you already know. So the nice thing about that, is that it is still socially acceptable to wish people "Feliz Navidad" and they still play Christmas music (AMERICAN music) in the stores.

Christmas Eve was weird (they call it "Noche Buena" here.) Thanks to the famous Spanish punctuality, our dinner at the church (with other misfit members who had no where else to go) started two hours late and we had 15 minutes to eat before BOOKING it out of the church to get home in time, planning to take a taxi. We walk out there and everything is DEAD. No metro. No bus.  I could have laid in the streets of the third largest city in Spain and not been hit. Things picked up again midway through Christmas day, but it was a surreal experience.

I'm not sure how New Year works here, other than they stay up late and eat 12 Grapes to welcome it in at Midnight.

I'm supposed to teach Piano to this little girl on Saturdays for an hour (something that Hna. Gillette used to do and now falls to the only other pianist-ish missionary) so... that's fun. It's hard to teach in Spanish when you don´t even know the word for "measure."

My companionship and two companionships of Elders are over "Barrio One." Hermana Stilson is over Barrio 2, so we'll be going to her church for the next couple of weeks as well. (6 hours of church in another language... yay?) Hers is morning, ours is night... it'll be a full day.

I loved getting to see you guys on Christmas, and I think it went pretty well. I didn't really plan what to say, it all just sort-of came out... but I'm glad it worked well. Y'all are awesome.

Lots of love for the new year!
Hermana Een

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Snipets from Christmas

From the Christmas Day video call:
--I’m an alto . . . because I can sing parts.
--First investigator meeting she moved up her baptism to choose a special day—CHIRSTMAS.  I bore my testimony and everything!
--For the baptism today we sang a mash of “Come Follow Me” and “Oh Come, All Ye Faithful”.  [Would that be “Oh Come Follow Me All Ye Faithful”???]  We practiced it without accompaniment then a pianist played and they aren’t in the same keys and it got messed up.  It wasn’t great, but it was still OK.
--Valencia oranges . . . people give you oranges at the doors, BAGS of oranges.
--NEED Knock-Knock Jokes
--Spencer’s advice:  Be obedient, love every moment and I trust you.
--A mission is hard.  There are lots of rules and I’m coming to love and appreciate them. 
--The Spirit is REAL. 
--When I try to say something I don’t know how to say in Spanish I just say what I think and it comes.  [Mom insert:  AKA The Gift of Tongues]
--There are good people everywhere.  Some are not ready yet.
--You can never teach the wrong lesson to the right investigator. 
--God knows us best.

--I’m happy!!!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

White Christmas

White: The absence of stain, a symbol of purity and cleanliness
Christmas: I´m guessing you guys can figure that one out.

So I had sort of planned on this being a surprise, but news travels fast (through the mother of your second cousin... crazy stuff) but I have some really cool news! My companion and I are going to have a white Christmas! Xiomara (a lady we taught in my first lesson in the field) accepted a baptismal date a while ago, but wanted to move it up and have it be on some significant day. What better day than Christmas? What better way to show your appreciation for the gift of your Savior? A Christmas baptism.

I´ve had a lot of fun singing Christmas hymns and reading the Christmas story in Spanish. Something so ancient and familiar is new again in the light of a new language. For instance, did you know that the Spanish way to say "to give birth" is "dar a luz" or, literal translation "to give a light?"
And that´s exactly what we've come to celebrate this time of year; when a light was given to the world. A light of hope, a light of peace.
It's downright inspiring and all. So in your Christmas celebrations, I hope you'll all try and remember Christ. He is the gift. Él es la Dádiva.

In other news, since I realize I haven't spoken much about Valencia or what I'm actually doing here, the mission is going well. I've walked 8.3 miles in a day, I've given out hundreds of pass-along cards, and I've taught a chunk of lessons with my companion. Hermana Manwill is a Sister Training Leader and they had a meeting in Barcelona one day last week, so I was left with the other Hermana (Stilson) in our apartment whose companion is also a Sister Training Leader. She's been here 9 weeks, I'm on my third. We were NOT professionals, but it's amazing how much you can accomplish in a day. It's amazing how much you can teach even though you don't know the language very well.

We had Zone conference this week. WOW. I love our mission President (President Pace) and the love he has for all the missionaries. The meeting was SUPER powerful. And afterwards, they rolled in suitcases full of packages and boxes and letters, bringing Christmas to the mission.

I'll try and send some pictures... eventually.
Love you guys!

-Hermana Een
African Christmas number 12/13/14, perhaps at a ward party

District photo in Valencia 12/20/14

Ice skating in Valencia 12/23/14

On the ice

Paella for zone conference 12/22/14

Lights in Valencia taken 12/15/14

Monday, December 15, 2014

Vale Valencia

"Vale" is a word found exclusively in Spain and roughly translates to "ok." Valencia is the city I was assigned to, and will work in for the next... undetermined amount of time, but probably at least 6 weeks.

European cities are amazing and unique, modern mixing with ancient in ways that should clash but seem to complement. I love it here.

We took a high speed train to Barcelona, spent a couple of days there doing necessary paperwork and getting the low-down of what being in the Spain Barcelona Mission entails.

A few years ago, a general authority visited the Barcelona mission and said that it was "a Lighthouse mission to the rest of Europe" because of how the church is growing, defying the stigma that you don't baptize in Europe.
My name (Alayna) is a derivative of the name Helen which means "torch-bearer" which seems downright profound right now. My mission scripture is an excerpt from Christ's words, and reads "I am the light of the world, he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life."
Our mission goes by the nickname "El Faro" which is the Spanish word for lighthouse.

As missionaries, we go out in unfamiliar paths, to cities we've never heard of and places so different from where we've been before. We are called to be a light unto the nations, bringing the truth of the gospel to those who wander in darkness, kept from the light simply because they  know not where to find it. (D&C 123:12)

I love the mission. It's full of little miracles and spiritual connections you can't find or recognize in any other way.

That being said, I still have a lot to learn. I was called to a walking mission (which basically means we don't drive or ride bikes) but what they should have called it was a metro mission.... we take that thing EVERYWHERE and it'll take awhile for me to understand which lines go where and what stops connect and such, but I'll try my best.

Our ward is smallish, and we have two other companionships of Elders. It's about as diverse as you can get. Latinos of every variety, an impressively large African presence, and only a few true Spaniards. And I love them.
My companion is Hermana Manwill. She's a Utah native (like ALL THE OTHER MISSIONARIES AROUND HERE) in her last transfer (but we don't talk about that. Apparently she's also a Sister Training Leader (which I didn't find out about until a few days ago), which means that she has to go to meetings in Barcelona once a month and go on splits with other missionaries fairly frequently. Entonces (then; so), I'll be here to hold down the fort a lot... so I need to know my way around. A fun challenge for my first week. :O

My Spanish must be better than I thought, because everyone compliments me on it... but everyone is also very nice, so it's hard to gauge. I introduced myself this Sunday for Sacrament meeting and was able to handle the Spanish pretty well, but when I sat back down, I realized that my chapa (missionary name tag) was on my jacket and that I went up there without it. :(

The missionaries practically make-up the ward choir, and I've already had the opportunity to sing at a baptism and in the Stake Choir Festival (They had Los Tres Reyes [the three Kings] come out at the end and give everyone candy, of which I was a fan. Those guys are bigger than Santa Claus here.)

I've been to a few lessons, made some street contacts, eaten some Bolivian food which they tried to convince me was cat (but wasn't... I think), and had more Dominoes Pizza than I did when I was back in the States. All things which combine to make this a fantastic first week in the mission field.

Thanks for all the love and support!
-Hermana Alayna Een

Summary: Vale Valencia. Only missionaries can sing, and Spanish isn't that bad. It's crazy at first and there are a lot of metros, but I'm adjusting and doing well. Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014


Hey guys.

So, long story short (for this moment anyway). I've been to Barcelona and now I'm gone again. Trains are REALLY fast here, and dad's probably right about the whole ¨150mph thing... it got up to 300 km.

The Paces are AWESOME. The missionaries are awesome, everything is awesome. Some of the missionaries were nervous about leaving... about who their trainers would be, about everything but I'm handling it pretty well.

Hermana Curtis is not in my mission, she's heading off to Malaga, there's only ten of us here. I had that song from Anastasia stuck in my head the whole time today and yesterday ¨Heart, don't fail me now, courage don't desert me...." and other words I don't know, but it's a great song to have stuck in your head at a time like this.

We did a bit of sight seeing in Barcelona, got stuff for our residency, and had interviews with President Pace. That guy has SUCH a big heart, he teared up a lot and kept shaking my hand and telling me how glad he was that I was here and that I chose to come. Then we split off with some other Barcelona missionaries (Hermana McWhorter) and did some street contacting and stayed in their apartment overnight.

We did some other residency stuff, more proselyting, and had a LONG meeting today, at the end of which we got our assignments and trainers.
I've been assigned to Valencia and my trainer is Hermana Manwill. A three hour train ride later, and here I am, sitting at a slightly sketchy computer place (Locotorio) writing this email. I'm excited to get started! But I feel a little conflicted because I'm pretty sure Hermana Manwill only has a few more weeks in the mission field. I don't know how that'll work into my training, but I have faith.

I love you all!!!

I might not be able to send pictures because the computer place is sketchy and last time they got viruses on their sd cards. Playing it safe for now.
Less than three!

Hermana Een
President Pace, an angel on my shoulder
New Spain Barcelona Missionaries December 2014

First Companion, Hermana Manwill

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Barcelona Attained

Dear Families of our new missionaries,

     We are pleased to inform you that your daughter has safely arrived in the Spain Barcelona Mission.  Hermana Pace and I, along with the two assistants, met her at the train station.  The group of missionaries we received is full of wonderful young men and women, ready to go to work. Their enthusiasm reflects their love for the Savior and we are grateful for the privilege of guiding them along as they serve the Lord.
     Every area in the Spain Barcelona Mission is unique and beautiful, rich in history and tradition.  More importantly, each city is full of children of our Heavenly Father, waiting to hear the glad news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
     Thank you for the trust you have put in us to shepherd your daughter.  Please know that we feel a great responsibility to guide and protect “our” missionaries.  We love your sons and daughters as if they were our own.  With the Lord’s help, we intend to make their mission experience in Barcelona the most memorable time of their lives.


President and Hermana Pace

Monday, December 8, 2014

Last Day in the CCM (MTC)

So apparently we get to write on the day we leave the MTC. Unfortunately, we only get 10 minutes on the computer.... so that's super stressful.

Only one other missionary from my district is going to Barcelona. Most of them are going to Malaga and some of them are staying here. It's muy triste, pero [very sad, but] we'll still be able to write.

I'll try and send a few pictures, but I can't promise they'll make it through.

I leave at 7 am tomorrow morning on a (highly expensive) high-speed train to Barcelona. I'm traveling in a compartment with several other missionaries, so that should be fun. Other than that, I know NOTHING. I am as Nephi, not knowing beforehand the things which I should do... nevertheless, I [go] forth in faith. (1Nephi 4:6)

Love you guys!!!

Hermana Een
Elder Braun, Elder Reading, Hermana Curtis, Hermana Een

A purple building, for Eliza

Hermana Een and Hermana Curtis in front of The Royal Palace in Madrid
Hermanas Curtis and Een

"On the steps of the Palace" in Madrid

The Royal Palace in Madrid, Spain

The Nativity on the grounds of the Madrid Temple

The highly portable Nativity we sent Alayna, lovingly colored by Eliza.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Rapunzel's Flight

I just realized why Spanish computers don't have apostrophes. Because you don't use them in the Spanish language. Basically, mind blown. (You have my companion to thank for that)

So the first week or two at the MTC, we all talked about feeling like Rapunzel: Trapped in a tower, away from the world, all that stuff. Now... it's almost time to step out. Yesterday we got our train tickets to Barcelona. We're leaving on Tuesday morning at 7am.
This is the last email I'll send from the MTC (CCM). In many ways, I'm ready to go... but unprepared to leave. Because that makes sense... ;)

I got the opportunity to talk to the MTC president about a list he asked be to make (my best qualities, what good I've done, the blessings I've seen). He said I'm "quirky in all the best ways" and that he's excited for be to get out in the field. Cool stuff.

Hermana Curtis and I sang ¨What Child is This¨ for a devotional last Sunday and pretty much rocked it. Basically, I sang the cello part that I remember playing a couple of years ago. Anyway, the guy who accompanied us loved it and said he'd love to accompany us again sometime, but since we only had one more week, we didn't think it would be likely. But surprise!!! Someone wrangled up a cello and wanted vocals for "If you could hie to Kolob" this Sunday so... yep.

Also, the Elders are preparing a secret musical number (that I found out about VERY early on) "God be with you 'till we meet again." Tears will be shed.

Everyone is making plans for later: We'll be roommates, we'll have an MTC reunion, we'll have a LOTR (extended version) marathon, and so on." It's a coping mechanism. We make plans we know we can't keep because it's better than admitting the the truth... that this is an ending.

But since I can't leave it on that thoroughly depressing note, I'll jump into my spiritual thought.
President Uchtdorf said in a semi-recent general conference: "There are no true endings. Only everlasting beginnings."
I'm so glad to be part of a Church that teaches eternity and for the perspective we gain through our knowledge of the Plan of Salvation.

Scripture: D & C 123:17
  17 Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed.

Summary: I am Rapunzel: I sing a lot, I'm in a tower, and I'm leaving soon.

Love always!
Hermana Een

Thanksgiving Dinner!

The Hermanas in our room: Ross, Staker, Een, Curtis, Brawn, Gallegos