Three: Three Hermanas working together for three weeks in the third largest city in Spain.
Spain sure has a lot of holidays. And since holidays are the only times we can eat with other missionary companionships for dinners, we've had a lot of fun. This week I had real seafood for the first time in my life and let me tell you, shrimp are a LOT harder to eat when their bulging black eyes are staring you down and you have to rip their heads off while smiling gratefully at the member who made them for you. I also discovered that missionaries have their own version of a "food fight." It's someone telling a member that another missionary needs more food (because the other missionary can't be rude and refuse) and retaliating by scooping a heaping spoonful of rice onto the plate of the Elder across from you when he's not paying attention.
New Years eve was a little weird since we were in bed by 11:30pm, but we were slightly rebellious and ran out to our balcony at midnight, banging pots and pans shouting Feliz año to the three people that were out there. We didn't do the 12 grape thing. Shame.
Basically, it's still Christmas here. There are more parties and lights because of Día de los Reyes (which is tomorrow) and they still play (AMERICAN) Christmas songs in all the stores. The holidays are hard for missionary work because everyone is partying, with family, or out of town and nobody wants to keep appointments. The glass recycling bins on every street corner are chuck full of bottles and the streets are empty until 5 when everyone decides to wake up again. So it´s hard. But we try our darndest.
We're in a tripanionship (a word I made up because it sounds way more awesome than trio), so it's Hermana Manwill (my trainer who's leaving on January 20th), Hermana Stilson (a second transfer missionary who is ALMOST out of training and who's trainer had to leave a little early to start school), and I (of course). Which means two 3 hour church meetings, two correlation meetings, two district meetings, and two areas to cover. Throw in the fact that Hermana Manwill is currently the only Sister Training Leader and has to leave us for meetings and intercambios... let's just say we're busy, and sometimes it's just Hermana Stilson and I trying to get by.
A Jewish musician named Eduardo met with us and asked a million and a half questions about the Church. He plays the clarinet and double bass but has enough violins in his house to outfit a middle school orchestra. I mentioned that I play the cello and he said I'd have to play sometime, amended his statement and said, "Actually, right now." So... well, it wasn't pretty, but it was fun. He's such an interesting soul.
We had the opportunity to meet with a man named Carlos. He's blind because of a car accident 10 years ago, but I've never met someone with so much faith, strength, and selflessness. It was just Hermana Stilson and I, and we were going to keep it simple (talking about church attendance and the importance of baptism) when he said the three words no first-transfer missionary wants to hear: "Tengo una problema." He launched into a story about a car accident, a broken window, people that think it's his fault, and a court decision after the holidays that could send him to prison or fine him more than he'd ever be able to pay. The fact that I was able to understand that much was nothing short of a miracle. I wanted to help him, and knew what I wanted to say. I don't know a lot, but I knew enough -- a word I learned from my CCM companion, words borrowed from our memorized missionary purpose, and others pieced together into something that helped. There's a lot that I lack in this language and as a missionary in general, but it was enough to help someone who needed it. We shared scriptures of faith and comfort and parted ways both having learned something uplifting.
I have always been a goal oriented person, and a mission is a GREAT place for that. We have monthly goals, weekly goals, daily goals, yearly goals, goals for transfers, goals for the mission, companionship goals, personal goals, and district goals. It gets a little overwhelming! This year, we've been trying to motivate people to be better, to come closer to Christ. New year, NEW YOU! One thing I'd like to focus on is in the scripture Mathew 19:20, the story of a righteous man with many riches who asks the Savior how he can gain salvation and earn heaven. Christ tells him to keep the commandments. He says "All these things I have kept from my youth. What lack I yet?"
What lack I yet.
I love that thought. I hold all of you in high esteem. I see your names in the letters as I address them and I can personally testify that you are great people. Precious souls. Beloved children of God. You are all SO GREAT. And I want to challenge you to be even better.
Ask, "What lack I yet?"
Be brave enough to ask,
Humble enough to listen,
Strong enough to act.
I wish you luck on all of your New Years Resolutions, and hope you'll take this spiritual challenge. Try and write a missionary this month, ok? We love hearing from you guys, and there sure are a lot of us out here (88,000). You'll make someone's day.
-Hermana Alayna Een
Summary: Read the whole letter. It´s a good one. I´ll summarize the next one. ;)
P.S I hope you enjoyed my Doctor Who and Spiderman references in the beginning.
Bonus: I have both a really funny story and something to repent of (sometimes they are inseparable). I'm part of a new trio (tripanionship is my preferred term, it sounds WAY cooler) which means two church meetings and a whole lot of other responsibilities we're still trying to work out. Sweet Hermana Gillette used to play the piano in her ward, and I was wondering who they were going to have play the piano this time around when lo and behold the bishop announced that I was going to... over the pulpit... for the opening hymn... and I only know 4 songs. So I convinced them to change it to one I knew, and it went fairly well. But I don't know any sacrament hymns and there was no time to try and play through any of them so I just sight read and hoped for the best. Within the first line someone in the congregation started singing loudly and suddenly we were singing the words of 109 to the tune of 128, and I had to try my best to accompany the congregation while poor Hermana Stilson didn't know what beat to lead to. It was a disaster, but a funny one. It didn't leave the best feeling for the start of a sacred meeting such as the sacrament and I wasn't in the right mind set. (Remember, it´s in the Spanish Hymnal.)
Note: I looked it up, #109 is the tune of "We'll Sing All Hail to Jesus' Name" in 3/4 time and #128 is "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear" in 6/8 time. Visualizing that in my mind makes funnier. The beginning 2 notes of both hymns are the same . . . still Christmas celebrations going on in Spain . . I get it.
|The StilWillEen Tripanionship|
|Hermanas Een, Stilston, Manwill|