Monday, March 30, 2015

Super Human (space is optional)

Super- above average, great force or strength
Human- as in the excuse, "I´m only human," often associated with weakness, inability.

This week I had my first real intercambio [exchange](as in, the Sister Training Leader and I) and got to go to Cataroja! It's a pueblo (little city) just like many others in Valencia (we have many in our area as well) except for some reason (one very fuerte [strong] member) the church is super strong there. On the 15 minute train ride over, all of her planned citas [appointments] failed. So we prayed, made some quick plans, and headed out. We ended up having 5 member present lessons (knocking doors), finding two news. We also passed by a 12 year old menos active [less active] who usually scares off the Sisters... but we got along really well. (In case anyone was wondering, yes. I can sass in Spanish.) Just goes to show that when everything fails, you go forth in faith and the Lord fills in your schedule. Hermana Boyer is great, like really great. We contacted EVERYONE in the street, which doesn't seem possible but somehow worked out. She's going home this next transfer and everyone's going to miss her.

I've figured out that Hermana Terrazas and I work in wildly productive bursts of time. One day after 30 minutes of language study on a bench we went out (using Cataroja-style contacting), had 4 lessons, found two new investigators, and ran into the Bea's boyfriend (who we haven't seen since she came to church that one time. So we took down his number and will try to contact her through him). All of that in one hour before a cita with Genoveva. We call it our miracle hour.

We've been teaching Genoveva a little bit every night, and are constantly surprised by how prepared she is. She had no problems with the Law of Chastity, likes the idea of tithing and fasting, and decided to quit cold-turkey when she found out coffee was against the Word of Wisdom.
Baptisms are stressful. She was late(ish), the pianist didn't show up until half-way through (just in time for the musical number), the person baptizing her didn't bring clothes/decided to disappear for half an hour, and she slipped coming out of the fount hitting her head (a good-sized goose egg) and elbow. But when she came back, dressed in normal clothes again, she whispered "Dios esta" [God is here] to my companion. And I guess that's the most important. We sang "Families can be together forever" and she bore a beautiful half prayer- half testimony at the end. And everything was perfect.

Now that we've had our first baptism (our first baptism together and my first to contact, teach, and baptize) we realize that... there's still so much to do! There are still people to help, work, and pray for. Still so much left to do. Sometimes people call you an angel and you feel like superhuman. Other times things are hard. You try so hard but you can't succeed. You get what you wanted, but not what you need. And you feel super human. And that's the life of a missionary.

Spiritual Thought: Doctrine and Covenants 6:32 to the end. [32 Verily, verily, I say unto you, as I said unto my disciples, where two or three are gathered together in my name, as touching one thing, behold, there will I be in the midst of them—even so am I in the midst of you.

 33 Fear not to do good, my sons, for whatsoever ye sow, that shall ye also reap; therefore, if ye sow good ye shall also reap good for your reward.

 34 Therefore, fear not, little flock; do good; let earth and hell combine against you, for if ye are built upon my rock, they cannot prevail.

 35 Behold, I do not condemn you; go your ways and sin no more; perform with soberness the work which I have commanded you.

 36 Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not.

 37 Behold the wounds which pierced my side, and also the prints of the nails in my hands and feet; be faithful, keep my commandments, and ye shall inherit the kingdom of heaven. Amen.]

So whether you feel superhuman or super human, we're all part of a little flock. You're under the watchful eye of a loving shepherd, and there's no need to fear the future, present, or past.

Love you guys!
Hermana Een

Monday, March 23, 2015

Earth, Wind and Fallas (Fire)

Earth- Actually, there's nothing this week that has anything to do with Earth, I just wanted to reference a 70's band in my title. A more accurate title would have been WATER wind and fire because we had a TON of rain this week.

Wind- Wizard-of-Oz worthy at some points, sometimes combined with rain to make a rather special type of storm and other times just enough to re-animate abandoned confetti around the empty streets.

Falla (Fire)- The beginning and end of a 5 day festival that's been a month in the making. They made the Ninots (that´s the Valencian word for the statue things) and displayed them throughout the month... and then on Thursday night we burned them.

This was a week of extremes. The metros were either sardine-style full or almost empty. The streets were either packed with kids in costume and parading falleras (traditionally dressed men and women complete with family crest and their own marching bands! A good week to be a band nerd) or post-apocalyptic-style deserted. The echoing boom of fireworks for days on end and then days of silence. The weather was either really nice or BAD. No "happy medium." But, as always, we found happiness in the extremes.

On Thursday night the fallas burned, the little ones at ten and the bigger ones close to midnight. And there were two right in front of our piso... so we got to see them. It starts with fireworks, moves on to a steady burn, black smoke and heat and before you know it- it's gone.  We woke up Friday morning and the buses were running normally and it was business as usual. As if the "fallas" were just a strange and passing dream. It was a great experience... but I'm sort-of glad it's over and we can move on.

My companion had an intercambio  [exchange] with the Sister Training Leader this week and I ran the area with her companion, Sister Reid (happens to be a step-cousin of sorts). I learned a lot about Hermana Reid and about the work, but also a lot about myself. Funny how that works out.

Genoveva (an investigator I'm casi seguro [almost certain] I've talked about before) came back from her brother's funeral in Africa and we went to see her right away. Our reunion was... dark. Not in the "poorly-lit piso [apartment] late at night" sense, more like the "My step-sister killed my brother with voodoo and I´ll never forgive her" sense. Dark is the only word for it. But once again in my mission, we were there to bring light and comfort. We talked about eternal families, about the resurrection, and promised to visit her every day.

So the next day we went (after another rather fantastic cita [appointment] with Allison). We were an hour late and soaked (wet puppy dogs) but we were there. And we finally taught the Plan of Salvation in its entirety. And it was wonderful. We challenged her to get baptized this Saturday (28th). She said yes.

Hermana Terrazas and I decided to hit poutas this week (a mission-wide number goal of Member-present lessons, people in church, and the like). And although we really decided on Friday and only had three days to do what seemed like the impossible... we went forth in faith, tried our best, saw miracles, and made our goals.
It´s been a great week.

Here´s the scripture I shared with Genoveva.
Mosiah 16:8-9
8 But there is a resurrection, therefore the grave hath no victory, and the sting of death is swallowed up in Christ.
 9 He is the light and the life of the world; yea, a light that is endless, that can never be darkened; yea, and also a life which is endless, that there can be no more death.

This life is short, we have joy and sorrow, and it is NOT the end. Death is just one part of an eternal plan and it has no victory nor lasting sting. I know that this is true, and I love teaching it.

More great things ahead!
Hermana Een

Summary- Fallas are finally over, and it seems like a passing dream. Genoveva's back and although shess passing through dark times we're helping her see the light. Miracles happen when you plan for them and goals are only possible when you try with faith.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Bad Days, Black Cats, Bull Fights, and Brownies

Bad Days: Everybody has them. You take it one down, you sing a sad song just to turn it around...
Black Cats: Typically a sign of misfortune, especially when one crosses your path. At night. On Friday the 13th.
Bull Fights: Well, it is SPAIN, after all. There was one scheduled for this Preparation day and I had an internal moral conflict about whether to go or not but the fact that it was super expensive and hard to get tickets sort-of settled that deal. And I think I'm glad.
Brownies: The magical substance "dulces de mi pais" [sweets of my country] that missionaries (Hermanas, anyway) make for special people. They summon miracles and we have a super-secret recipe that is criminally simple.
[1 cup sugar
1cup flour
1 cup cola cao
3/4 cup oil
splash of milk, pinch of salt]

My week: in no chronological order
This week (Wednesday) we had the pleasure of getting a mission conference from a visiting area 70 (Olssen). A bunch of missionaries from surrounding areas came in for the conference and I got to see Hermana Fenn (a friend from the MTC) again, which was a pleasure. That, and it's SUPER nice to hug someone taller than I am (she´s 6 foot 2).
Conference with Elder and Sister Olssen

We had a crazy, accidental miracle. I was trying to call MA [menos activos] (a short-hand way of saying less-active) Pamela in our phone and accidentally ended up calling MA Patti... someone I've never met. But I invited her to come to church, our quick conversation ended, and we went on with the day. I would have totally forgotten about it, but she actually CAME to church... AND brought a friend. So we set up a visit with her friend for this Friday.
Funny how things work out.

Friday the 13th! Yes, a black cat did cross our path at 9 at night... but luck was on our side, because we had an EXCELLENT lesson with Allison, and she agreed to be baptized. It was almost too easy. The next day we had a lesson with her mom which also went incredibly well.

Saturday was PI day. 3/14/15 (if you do it the American way.) And although they don't really have pie here, we did our best with pudding, crushed Maria cookies, and a pre-made cheesecake. #nerdforthewin.

The Fallas [a festival unique to Valencia] are in FULL SWING around here, and I'm understanding them a little better because of a Wikipedia article my mom sent me through snail mail (thanks for that). There are giant "Ninots" [“dolls” in Catalan, a dialect in Spain] on almost every street corner... including the one right outside our piso [apartment] (so we can watch it burn from our front window... which is insanely cool). We went to the Mascleta (firework/soundcannon show) today... along with everyone else in Spain. It's quite the unique experience. I enjoy it... but I'm also ready for things to get back to almost-normal next week.

Tuesday we had our cita with Silvia. We sang a song, shared testimony, talked and smiled. We had a member there who shared her own testimony and conversion story and did everything right. But her mind was made, and this was "goodbye." So I wrote an inscription in her Book of Mormon (trying to pour out my soul in words without triggering tears), we ate the brownies we had made, and left. We bought chocolate bars and decided to pass by names on the ward list (to clear out those who don't live there anymore... which was pretty much everyone). Every time the person we were looking for didn't live there, didn't answer, or we got rejected, we ate a little square of the chocolate bar... and almost finished it. All in all, it was a day with all the potential to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. But miraculously, it wasn't. Somehow we managed to be... well, happy. Because we decided to be, and we kept each other up. And sometimes that really is all it takes.
The scripture I want to share this week is Mosiah 2:41 (in the Book of Mormon).
 Mosiah 2:41 And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness. O remember, remember that these things are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it.
It's a scripture I've come to love through my mission, not only because it's the perfect scripture to share on eating citas with members but because it's always applicable to my own life as well. We CAN have happiness, we CAN have joy. Living the commandments -being good- isn't insurance against the hard times, but it gives you the promise of strength to be happy in spite of them.

Pursuit of Happiness... it really is that easy, and that difficult, and that important.

-Hermana Een

Summary: Fallas  are in full swing, lots of cultural stuff. Silvia dropped us and we had a bad day that ended up being ok anyway. Still a nerd, for pi day. Little daily miracles/mistakes abound.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Lyrically Fluent

Fluent- The ability to communicate, to understand and be understood.
Song lyrics- mostly what I'm fluent in. (; Can connect perfectly to a moment in time.

On Wednesday I went to the missionary training meeting for the 3rd time in a row and really enjoyed it (I could probably conduct the next one, I'm so familiar with the subjects and Hermana Pace's "skrift" story). There are three people from my MTC group training new missionaries. Hermana O'Neill and I are training 6 weekers and Elder Stratton is training a new missionary. This meeting marked the end of my semi-awkward old/new companion tripanionship, and I sent Hermana Manotas off to Bilbao and I couldn't get these words out of my head "Only know you've been high when you're feeling low. Only hate the road when you're missing home, only know you love her when you let her go." Guys, I've gone soft.

Thursday was the first "real" day I had with my lovely new companion, Hermana Terrazas. Her name is Spanish... but she's not native. As the day went on I taught lessons with her, I carried on conversations in the bus, and gave a somewhat complicated testimony and... for the first time in my life, I felt like I could speak this language. I didn't have to pause awkwardly to think of a word or nod in a conversation and pretend to understand because for the first time (in forever) I could understand and be understood. And it was glorious.

This week we were late to a lot of things (lots of roads are closed and buses are re-routed because of fallas) but the things that DID happen were good. I talked about Bea last time, right? Well when we called her on Thursday to see how she was doing she said that she got kicked out of the apartment and was now living in a nearby catholic nunnery. (Get thee to a nunnery!... wait, people actually DO that?) I didn't know quite what to say to that, but she said she'd come to church.
And she did.

The bishop gave us the number of a menos [less] active/recent convert, and we called her and set up a visit for Sunday night. We had a nice visit and asked her how we could help her come back. She said she just needed a little "animo" ( feel excited) to get to church and asked if she could come with us on visits and to lessons. Which is GREAT. It'll help us a lot and it'll help her too.

Silvia called us this week and said that she doesn't want to keep choosing between us and her church and asked us to stop visiting her. I convinced her to let us have one more cita [appointment], and we're going to bring a member who is PERFECT for her (Used to be Evangelico, has a son about her same age, and is a recent convert.) I'm praying that everything will go well. We've been working with Silvia for as long as I've been in Valencia. I love her and don't want to lose her. (Cue "I won´t give up" from Jason Mraz.)
[I don't wanna be someone who walks away so easily
I'm here to stay and make the difference that I can make
Our differences they do a lot to teach us how to use
The tools and gifts we got, yeah, we got a lot at stake
And in the end, you're still my friend at least we did intend
For us to work we didn't break, we didn't burn
We had to learn how to bend without the world caving in
I had to learn what I've got, and what I'm not, and who I am

I won't give up on us
Even if the skies get rough
I'm giving you all my love
I'm still looking up, I'm still looking up.]

I haven't had a "normal" Sunday in a long time: last week we had 8 investigators in church and EVERYONE wanted a photo with Hermana Manotas, this week was ward conference, we sang, and a lot of new people came. So it's been a little crazy, but I wouldn't change it for the world. Let's just say that it's very smart to have Preparation Day on Monday so that we can rest from our "Día de Reposo." [Day of Rest]

Hermana Terraza's favorite Scripture to share is Mosiah 24: 13-14, so that´ll be my spiritual thought for now.
[Mosiah 24: 13 And it came to pass that the voice of the Lord came to them in their afflictions, saying: Lift up your heads and be of good comfort, for I know of the covenant which ye have made unto me; and I will covenant with my people and deliver them out of bondage.
 14 And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions.]
Sometimes at the end of the day, I have the words to the song "Have I done any good in the world today" run through my mind. And I can honestly say, "yes." And I think that's the definition of true happiness (or a good one, anyway).
I love you guys.
Hasta luego.
-Hermana Een

Summary: Our investigators are all awesome... but some of them are struggling. I had an aha "I-can-speak-this-language" moment and it was glorious.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

MY NERDIEST MOMENTS—a geek update and other SnailMail included

-At least every other day we take the bus to get to one area or another.  As you get on, scan your card, and head to the seats, the driver starts going again and it feels like you’re walking ‘warp speed”.  I LOVE it.  Only none of my companions have seen Star Trek, so they don’t get it.

-One day I saw someone rolling an R2D2 carry-on and just about died (too bad they’re probably not mission appropriate, otherwise I would be sorely tempted).

-The metro (subway) stop for the church is called “Aragon” as in LOTR, which always makes me smile.  (Another reason I’m always glad to go to church.)

-I have legitimately contacted people just because of the book they were reading.  One—my most awkward-contact ever was a girl with a Mockingjay necklace reading “The Hunger Games”.  I said “Este libro . . . me gusta.”  Stopped awkwardly, dropped a pass-along card in her gook, and got off at the next metro stop.  Another was reading “El Juego de Ender” and we had a nice chat about the book, the movie, and the differences between them.

-On the way back to Valencia from getting my residency I spent an entire 3 hour train ride passionately geeking out with Hermana O’Neill.  I explained the Weeping Angels, the Doctor-River plotline, the differences between the old series and the new series and how it’s gone on for 50 years.  She mentioned “Once Upon A Time” and I explained how and why I’d only watched the first season.  I raged about “Agents of SHIELD” and correctly guessed her other favorite “Nerd” show
—“Merlin”.  We commiserated over the ending.  It was a total geek fest.  And I loved it.

-There was a little stand (Comic-con style) of Geek Stuff in the mall and I found it physically difficult not to go in.  There was a Harry Potter T-shirt at Primark that made me supremely happy (I would have gotten it if it had been for Ravenclaw instead of Gryffindor)

-Pretty much every spare moment with Hna. Stilson was a geek fest.  She loves Harry Potter more than I do (a near-impossible feat) and we spent hours contacting/doing a deep character analysis of Snape, Neville, and Sirius.

          These are my most recent nerdy moments, though I’m sure there will be more.  I’m still a nerd.
After all this time?
Okay?    Okay.
<3 Hermana Een

The not-at-all annual Alayna health Update!                                     23/2/15 (European Style)
(I know you’re excited)
            At the close of another transfer, you guys should know that I’m still alive and kicking.  I no longer go running in the mornings (that was a rare tripanionship--speared by New Years resolutions and a dying missionary’s desires to not be fat—that has gone the way of most New Years Resolutions at this point).  Hermana Lamerouax—the Sister Training Leader here, and our piso-mate AND she just happens to be IN the picture from the Deseret News Article you sent (so that’s funny)—loves running and was on her college track team so although I went with her once, I don’t have the stamina to make that a frequent occurrence.
            My current exercise regime is to turn on “The Best Two Years” soundtrack (Thank you Elder Matheson) and do sit ups for the first song, bicycles for the second, planking/push-ups for the third, wall sit/read a Spanish dictionary, awkward dog kicks, and then collapse and enjoy the other 3 songs I like on the sound track.  But hey, it’s better than nothing.
            I’m eating well-ish.  There’s still that never-ending chocolate hunger which is just part of being a sister missionary.  The members feed us well and when they remember to pass around the list our days are FULL.  There was a week (full of member eating citas) where the only “grocery shopping” I did was to buy milk, yogurt, and cookies.  (I have my priorities straight.)
            I found out that Valencia is famous in the mission for two reasons.  1) BAPTISMS, AWESOME members and miracles, and I can testify to all three of those.  2) For making missionaries gain weight L.
            I haven’t stepped on a scale for a while (both because we don’t have one, and I don’t WANT to) but I can feel a little “Mother Gothel”  “Plus, I admit you’re getting kind-of chubby.”  But we also found out that the metro stops are a lot closer than we thought so we’ll be walking a lot more.  If I stay.
            I’ve only cried . . . 5 times on the mission. And most of that is more “tearing up” then actual crying, but this past week especially has been emotionally difficult for me.  But I’ve also had a lot of things bring me joy.  So we come out even.  I don’t think I’m a very good trainer and Hermana Manotas is much better in some ways and still struggling in others.  Although I sincerely want to stay here and it makes sense that I will, I’m trying to be prepared for any eventuality.

4/3/15 (European date)

And one more for good measure . . .
Transfer calls have come and gone, I spent one very potentially awkward evening being a tripanionship (a word that’s catching on in the mission) with Hermana Manotas and Hermana Terrazas.  We left the piso and met up with two Elders in our district (half of which were different because of transfers) to give a blessing of comfort to Genoveva (who’s brother died on Sunday).  ELDER KEEN IS IN MY DISTRICT NOW!  This is cool for many reasons:  1) He’s a 24-year-old sarcastic British male and a 1-year convert to boot.  I can’t help but enjoy his company 2) He was in my same MTC group so although no one is in my “same boat” (training with only 6 weeks in the mission kind-of isolates you that way), he’s pretty darn close.  And that’s downright comforting (especially since I’m losing Hermana O’Neill to Lleida).  3) Our names are strikingly similar, which is just fun.
            This morning we went to the training meeting and HERMANA STILSON WAS THERE!  She’s going to train a girl from Tennessee (Hetrmana Ingram) which is perfect because she loves faking southern accents.  It was just SO good to see her again, reminisce on good old times in the tripanionship.  Man, I need to email her more.
            The training meeting is exactly the same as it was last time.  And the time before that.  Hermana Manotas is going to Bilboa with Hermana Vance—a seasoned missionary whose Spanish is very good, who was also “Born” in Valencia, and who has received council from President on what specifically Hna. Manotas needs and struggles with.  I had expected to feel like a little bit of a failure if we were separated in this transfer (even though I sort-of suggested it in my letter to President) but I honestly feel like it’s all for the best.  And, seeing how I’m still training, I know that it’s no fault of mine.
            Hermana Terrazas is 20, the 8th of 8 children, and very sweet.  From the little comments she‘s made about her mission experience so far I can tell that her trainer let her down in many aspects.  In his response to my letter President said “Hna. Terrazas has great desires to do the work and needs your help and guidance.  Once again, you are the answer.”—not like that’s intimidating or anything.
            And it hit me who she reminds me of.  Eliza, she’s the SPITTING IMAGE of Harriet Smith from “Emma Approved”.  It’s a perfect comparison in all aspects.  And I’m her Emma.  (Hopefully with a bit more wisdom).

<3Hermana Alayna Emma Een

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Fallas and Forget-me-nots

Fallas*: A Valencian tradition that takes place in March, almost the whole month from what I can tell. Activities include a daily firework show in the Center at Mediodía [noon], muñecas (Spanish women who dress in elaborate antiguo [old] garb and intricately woven braids that put Princess Leia's side-buns to shame), and the actual fallas are where they build giant, beautiful, and expensive statues... and then set them on fire.
Forget-me-nots: A little blue flower, often overlooked, and the title of a fantastic Uchtdorf talk that you should look up (and maybe my mom will put in a link for the blog.)

This week has been great. It's also been really hard in some ways. Funny how those things always seem to work together.

I'd like to talk about this week but, to be honest, everything worth talking about started on Saturday, so I'll just say that we had some good days and some bad days. The bad- Souad (our candle-lit miracle Muslim) was progressing to baptism (fecha [date], lessons, heck, we even found a dress) and then one day she stopped answering our phone calls, won't answer the door, and called Mama Africa to tell her that she's moving to France and doesn't want anything more to do with the Church or with us. So. That was fun.
The good- Genoveva´s progressing well, and loves our visits.

When Saturday came around it was a little hard. We finished the first half of the 12 week training program including the "stress test".... and she got red. (Green is good, yellow is ok, orange is bad, red is "call the president immediately, because you need help." Just to give you some perspective). Hermana Manotas hates the metro (which we use a LOT, and will use more, now that the fallas cause daily complications to the streets), and keeps running into family members and friends here which... complicates things. I had a candy-bar bet with her that IF one of us left (that's a big if, capital letters and all), it would be me. But we were surprised once again on Saturday night when President Pace called (which is starting to seem almost normal for me) at 10 en punto [on the dot] to tell us that Hermana Manotas is being transferred to Bilbao to finish her training with Hermana Vance (a MUCH more experienced missionary) and that I will be finishing the training of a 6-week non-native missionary, Hermana Terraza.) How crazy is that?

The next few days were chuck-full of miracles, with surprises at every turn. This week (last two days especially) has been so chuck-full of miracles that I don't know where one ends and another begins or how to choose just one to talk about. We were able to see not only almost ALL of our progressing investigators and menos activos [less active], but kept re-running into old contacts in the street and were able to set citas [appointments] with many of them for later in the week. Probably my favorite miracle was with Bea. On Sunday morning we were planning to pass by some of our menos activos that were really struggling, and somehow decided to pass by Manuel first (we've always visited him at night because of his work schedule, but we decided to give it a try anyway). When we rang the timbre [bell] a woman answered and we were a little confused at first (I'm notorious for forgetting which puerta [door] people live in) but she said that yes, Manuel lived there, no, he wasn't there at the moment (sleeping), but that we could still come in if we wanted. It was a little strange, but we went up and as the door opened Hermana Manotas gasped and said, "I KNOW you!" It turns out that she (Bea) was an investigator in Hermana Manotas's home ward 3 years ago. She moved here a month ago and is renting a room in Manuel´s piso [apartment]. And that whole morning she was feeling lost and alone, praying for someone to come to her and comfort her... and then two sister missionaries knock on her door. I don't know that I particularly felt GUIDED by the spirit in this occasion, we were just doing our best and following our plans, and were there to be an answer to prayer.

And as it turns out we got to have one last preparation day together... so we went to the Fallas at Mediodía. Basically, we were crowded shoulder-to-shoulder while patriotic Valenciana music blasted from speakers until the fireworks started. The booming of fireworks shook the ground, echoed in my chest cavity and off the surrounding buildings in a never-ceasing torrent of sound as the streets filled with smoke. It was awesome. And slightly scary.
And then we also went to a tower, climbed a LOT of steps, took a LOT of pictures, and really enjoyed this last extra day together.

The Valencia Girls, Hermanas Lamoreaux, Birch, Een, Manotas, Jimenez, and Walker

Other surprises?
I'm going to the training meeting.... AGAIN (That´s 3 for 3, my friends. A record, for sure). Also, I just picked up my new companion from the train station, and we're going to be a trio tonight and then we'll all go to the meeting tomorrow. (I sure love 3 hour train rides...)

These last few days have been some of our best together, Hermana Manotas and I. But I know that this transfer is just what she needs.
(Spiritual thought/tie-in, is coming up!)

Hermana Manotas loves flowers. Every time we pass a chino (like... a dollar store?) she points them out.
She asked me not to forget her, and I never will.

And neither will our Savior forget us.
"Neither will I forget you, for I have engraved you in the palms of my hands"   Isaiah 49:15–16
“Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee.
“Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me.”
1 Nephi 21: 13. Sing , O heavens; and be joyful, O earth; for the feet of those who are in the east shall be established; and break forth into singing, O mountains; for they shall be smitten no more; for the Lord hath comforted his people, and will have mercy upon his afflicted .
14. But, behold, Zion hath said: The Lord hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me—but he will show that he hath not.
15. For can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may forget , yet will I not forget thee, O house of Israel.
16. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me.

I'm Hermana Een. I'm starting my fourth transfer on the mission with my 5th companion. I've trained and been trained (sometimes at the same time). I've seen many, many miracles, and I know there's more in store.

Summary: Still here in Valencia, still training... but it´s a different sister. Lots of miracles, lots of cool Spanish traditions, and lots of work still to do.

*Fallas is a Valencian celebration of the feast of St Joseph.  In the week of 19 March (the feast of San José), Valencia honors its patron saint with a spectacular fiesta called las Fallas. Fallas is the name given to the huge papier-mâché, cardboard and wooden sculptures depicting politicians and other well-known public figures which, amidst a deafening display of fireworks, are put on bonfires and set alight by members of competing groups, or falleros, who will have spent the previous year creating and building them. Only the sculpture which is voted best escapes the flames.  More about it at:  What an exciting month to be in Valencia!