Monday, June 29, 2015

Five and Flying

Five- the number of weeks that I've been here in Barcelona, even though it seems much much shorter than that. Also, the number of steps in the Gospel of Christ. If you didn't understand that reference, ask the missionaries! They can help you. ;)

Flying- what time is known to do. Also, when you're on a spiritual and emotional high, and nothing can quite bring you down. That happens sometimes in the mission, too.

This week really has been great. Even considering the fact that I currently can't breathe through my nose and have been a little under the weather for a couple days, there's just a good feeling here.  This week I finally had the opportunity to teach Eduardo (I've been on intercambios for his other lessons), our 71year-old Cuban-born German friend who is getting baptized this Fourth of July (are we going to wear red, white, and blue? YES. Yes we will). He's incredible, and so beyond prepared that I'm pretty sure he started teaching us.  More with his story next week.

I went on another intercambio this week with Hermana Mendez, this time in my area. Turns out, going on a mission doesn't mean you magically grow a sense of direction (though my internal moral compass still points due North). I missed Hermana Wiseman for that, but we still had a pretty good day and taught some pretty good lessons.

We also said goodbye to one of our favorite members, who is going back to Peru to be with his wife. It was a real bitter-sweet moment (but mostly sweet, because he bought doughnuts), and he's been such a great help to the work here, and such a great friend to the missionaries.

Our mission President and his wife are leaving. We meet the new ones this week. I also just hit my 8 month mark. Sometimes things drag on. Other times, it feels like you blink and everything is changing. But I guess that just a part of life as well.

Our friend Willy came to church this week, and it's been a long time coming. I just feel like we're finally seeing the fruits of our labor, and I just feel so incredibly blessed.

Mosiah 2:21-24 21 I say unto you that if ye should serve him who has created you from the beginning, and is preserving you from day to day, by lending you breath, that ye may live and move and do according to your own will, and even supporting you from one moment to another—I say, if ye should serve him with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants.

 22 And behold, all that he requires of you is to keep his commandments; and he has promised you that if ye would keep his commandments ye should prosper in the land; and he never doth vary from that which he hath said; therefore, if ye do keep his commandments he doth bless you and prosper you.

 23 And now, in the first place, he hath created you, and granted unto you your lives, for which ye are indebted unto him.

 24 And secondly, he doth require that ye should do as he hath commanded you; for which if ye do, he doth immediately bless you; and therefore he hath paid you. And ye are still indebted unto him, and are, and will be, forever and ever; therefore, of what have ye to boast?

and 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.
because I like it SO much.

I'm still not in love with the iPads. Mostly because I can't figure out how to send my email in the group... Sorry if someone gets left out.
We're supposed to be embracing new technology, but right now I'm just giving my iPad an awkward one-armed side-hug.
Pero bueno.  [But good.]
Sigue intentando.  [Keep trying.]

Lots of love to you all!
 Hermana Een

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Double Decades, Disney Princess, Despedida

Double Decades: Turning twenty. It's kind-of a big deal.
Disney Princess: Somehow we decided to sing "Let it Go" for the ward's "Noche de Talentos." My companion was Elsa, I was Ana.
Despedida [farewell, goodbye]: We said goodbye to President and Hermana Pace in their last concilio (group leadership meeting) yesterday. I didn't think I would cry. I bawled.

I feel like this week hasn't been that long, like it hasn't dragged uncomfortably or anything, but SO much has happened, that I don't know how to fit it into a letter. But I'll try.

This week I went on my first intercambio [exchange] as a Sister Training Leader. I worked with Hermana Stott, she has a year in the mission, and is one of the sweetest, humblest, and most spiritual people I've had the pleasure of knowing. Although she said it was a good experience, I feel like I definitely learned more from her than she could possibly have learned from me. Just to add to the fun of it, our phone ran out of saldo (i.e, we couldn't call ANYONE), the next refill wasn't for another 2 days, and my companion was left to run the area without a phone. I told her to find a miracle, and she did. Someone we met in an elevator a few weeks ago now wants to be baptized. I think it's funny the more technology we get (iPads, my friends) the more God has to prove to us that we can do His work without it. (Without even the basics of a telephone.)

This week I turned 20. And it was also the day our saldo cycle started over, which was a nice gift. I got letters, emails, a package, the Elders bought chocolate and ice-cream, the Hermanas made French toast, and I had the opportunity to teach the best Plan of Salvation lesson I've ever taught to one of the most prepared people on the planet. Her name is Sofia, and her son of 18 months has leukemia.  And she's incredible. It was a great day and I just felt so incredibly loved all around. Thanks to everyone who contributed to that.

Saturday was the ward activity, a talent show. The missionaries are expected to put on two numbers, and they are expected to be the best. (No pressure, no pressure.) The Elders put together a comical synchro routine and well... we sang. It was like cheap Halloween, trying to put together costumes from stuff around piso [apartment], but it was an appreciated effort. People asked to take photos with us, we sang well, and now the ward loves us. (But seriously, though.) Plus, childhood dream fulfilled? All in a day´s work. ;)

Sunday we had a surprise baptism because someone’s records were lost and... needed to be rebaptized como YA in order to go to a family temple trip. Muy divertido [very funny].

This week we went to Concilio. I saw good friends and was able to hear about the work that goes on in Valencia, my old area. We were all mesmerized by the easiness of sharing photos through the magic of air-drop. We took lots of selfies and even more notes. We counseled together, and then at the end bore testimony and it was just such a sweet experience. We sang and then President ended the meeting with a prayer, and I don't think there was a dry eye. I love President Pace with all my heart. It'll be different from here on out, but as he said, you're here to serve the Lord, not your mission President, so nothing really is changing.

I'd like to end with a Spiritual thought shared by Hermana Stott:
A lot of people try to justify their disobedience and sin by saying that "God understands." I think we should worry less about God understanding US, and try a little bit harder to understand HIM. To trust Him and know that his commandments are for our eternal welfare.

I love you all!
Until next week!
-Hermana Een

Monday, June 15, 2015

Biking in Barcelona

iPads can be frustrating. I don't have much time to write this email so here's some amusing bullet points as a summary of my week (neither cute nor clever, but it's all I have time for.)

- I asked two Jehovah’s Witnesses (testigos) to donate blood. #insensitive

- we went on a mission to give a hug to a mother in a hospital.

- we suddenly have 3 Peruvian investigators with sons who have leukemia.

- I couldn't quite manage to be mad at Abraham (even though he's been kind-of lame lately).

-I taught and played prelude in zone conference. I did a decent job.

We’re to say goodbye to the Paces... Even though I'll see them for at least one more concilio.

Favorite scripture, Mosiah 2:41 (it works for EVERYTHING).   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.

(Oh, and we went biking)

Lots of love to all of you, enjoy your summers, and see you next week!
Also, since I don't believe I mentioned it, I went on an intercambio with Hermana Schmidt. The reader ate my T-joven and other "Only on intercambio" adventures.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Compartiendo Calories: The Day We Were Hermanas

Compartiendo- English translation is "sharing," and as we all know, "sharing is caring."

Calories- Those pesky little numbers in all the best foods that add up and make you fat (I'm sure my dietitian-mother could add onto that definition if needed).

It is a truth universally acknowledged that Hermana missionaries are known for their brownies. Chocolate-chips aren't really a thing here, so cookies are out, and our secret brownie recipe is just so easy, that we just do it all the time.

One day this week (Sunday) we set out with one goal in mind: To scatter sunshine, to "compartir calories", to visit as many people as we could, and make them feel LOVED.
They were... surprised. And we saw little miracles along the way.

This week we both saw a bit of sickness, ie, we're making "I barfed in Barcelona T-shirts" (just kidding. But it's a fun idea). It's hard to do missionary work when you feel sick. After a rough day, Hermana Wiseman asked for a blessing from the Elders in our District and although it was short and simple, I was struck by a phrase that said (mas o menos [more or less]) that feeling this weakness or this fatigue will give us greater power to understand and succor others in similar circumstances. And I just really loved that.

We've had trouble meeting with and maintaining contact with some of our most promising investigators, which is always rather frustrating, but this week we've also seen Kevin (an average street contact) follow through on his own. He even came to church with nothing more than a reminder text (which when you're church starts at 10:30 am the night after a major Barcelona soccer game.... is a big deal).

And today, today we hiked a mountain.
And it was the HARDEST, most physically taxing and situationally dramatic thing I've ever done. But it was fun, and surprisingly... I'm not dead-tired or anything. So that's nice. It's an experience I'll never forget, and the Monastery at the top of the mountain was INCREDIBLY beautiful.

This has been a fairly scattered email, ( I guess we all have days like that) but to close, I want to extend a spiritual challenge (a little bit more of a commitment than a spiritual thought).
I shared my testimony in church for the first time in ... well, it feels like a while. As missionaries, we share and bear testimony FREQUENTLY throughout the day, and it becomes almost second nature.
I would like to challenge each of you (within the next month, the rest of June and first part of July) to share a sincere testimony.
In church, on Facebook, with a good friend, to your family, or to your Father in prayer.
I know that when a sincere testimony is borne, all participants benefit.
And if you could just send me a quick email about your experiences, I think that would be something truly terrific.
(That and -guilt trip-- it would make a great birthday present.)
So... Yep. That's my week! On to another great one!
-Hermana Een

In other email responses:
As iPad missionaries we are able to access and read emails as if they were letters (snailmail) so don't be shy about emailing earlier. I'm still not totally.... sure how much I will use that privilege, but I've at least thought that I might look them over on Sunday night. Still a growing process.

We're doing gifts for President and Hermana Pace and it makes it a whole lot more real that they're LEAVING. I'll be doing my first intercambio [exchange] as a Sister Training Leader this week (maybe two, actually) so wish me luck!

Other things I've forgotten: in another email you mentioned a fireside from the woman who helped write "Daughters in my Kingdom." Did you know that that book is now on the approved missionary library? (aka, we can read it) YES. They use it a lot in Spain. This past RS lesson was basically reading a chapter from it. 

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Leadership and Looking Up

Leadership- A quality highly favored in today's society, but difficult to define (I wish I had access to an English dictionary...)
Looking up- Fixing your sights skyward, more than just an "upward glance" (cue "I won't give up" from Jason Mraz and "I hope you dance" from... whoever sings that [Lee Ann Womack])

Well, here I am in Barce (which is apparently what the everyone calls the city, but still not a nick-name I'm used to yet), and I'm writing on a Tuesday again because of a leadership conference we call concilio and the fact that we got iPads.

I have a new companion, Hermana Wiseman. She's a little more than one transfer behind me, is from California, and LOVES talking to people. It's her strength, and something we've already seen MIRACLES from. We work together well, have got a pretty good handle on the language between the two of us, and we're ready to work. I love her.

Can I just say what a joy it is to be here? I thought it would be hard to leave Valencia and everything I know and "start over" for the first time in the mission. But it turns out it really isn't that hard. There are many things that never change, and I'm pleasantly surprised to find people I know and respect here in Barcelona. Elder Day from my MTC group is an office Elder here, Elder Smiley and Elder Buttars from Valencia are still in my zone, and Hermana Worthington (also from my MTC group) is one of the Sisters I'll be working with.

This week we've had some fun miracles, such as with Abraham and Lucas.

We were walking to a pass-by (though we didn't know exactly where the street was) and my companion said that she wanted to talk to this man on a bench but felt a little awkward because he had headphones, was our age, etc. I suggested that we could ask him where the street was and go from there. So we did. I've never had a conversation flow so easily into a gospel discussion. He brought up the church, and HE asked "what makes your church different from the rest" (which just so happens to be my favorite question to answer). So we sat down and taught the first lesson RIGHT THERE. It was incredible. We've met with him twice since then and now he has a fecha [baptismal date].

I know we're never "lost" when we FIND people.

We were walking to do some OTHER pass bys and I heard something from behind me. I didn't really pay any mind until the third call of "Hermanas!" So we stopped and talked with Lucas. Lucas had been in Barcelona for exactly 3 days (same amount as I had, as it happens) and he said he'd been looking for a church there, but found nothing he liked. When he saw two "hermanas" walking down the street in long, modest skirts he knew he had to stop and talk with them.  So he did.
Something fun about this week: Someone had an activity planned in the church and asked the missionaries to come and help out. I have now seen mature Flamenco dancing and let me tell you, it's a treat when you can watch groups of 6 year-olds, teenagers, and then octogenerians dance in traditional Spanish style.

So concilio. I can barely SPELL it, so it's safe to say that I didn't quite know what to expect. It was so good to see some Valencia Hermanas and other leaders and friends and to speak with President Pace again. I have such great respect for that man, and to hear him teach and brainstorm with him about how to improve the mission was a real treat.
Valencia Sister Training Leaders & my good friends

At one point President Pace pulled me aside and said that he was just so glad to have me "finally here" and that "It was always in the plans" to bring me down here and be Sister Training Leader, and they would have done it last transfer but thought that Hermana Terrazas still needed me in Valencia (that, and I wasn't ready to leave). And something about that really struck a chord with me. It was "always in the plans."

We don't always know the plans. But God, as the architect of our future, DOES. And they're magnificent. And they're revealed to us on an "as needed" basis.

I live in the shadow of the Sagrada Familia (those of you with Google- who aren't iPad missionaries,  stay obedient - look it up). It's an ancient, modern, and continuing wonder.  It's been under construction for decades (almost a century or maybe more) and they're still following the grand design and vision of the Master Architect.  I'm blessed to live a in a place where people are ALWAYS looking up.

We lead when we lift to a higher plane.

We need to look to and trust the "Man with the plans."

Doctrine and Covenants 6:36 "Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not"

I love you all and hope you have a fantastic and inspired week.

Hermana Een