Tuesday, July 28, 2015

En Medio: Nine Months

Medio: middle.
9 months: let's be honest, everyone's first thought is "pregnant" but it's also significant because it marks the half-way point in a Sister Missionary's service. Or as my family apparently would say (quoting the words of Bon Jovi) "You're half way there, whoa, living on a prayer" which is surprisingly accurate in this occasion.

This week has been a beast. We ran everywhere and taught un montòn [a lot]. The ayudantes (assistants to the President, a very important calling) decided that all of concilio (leadership council) should hit the pautas (mission goals). So we did. But the problem with pautas is that my companion and I were constantly frustrated with the way it made us think. It's a delicate balance, something meant to push you but sometimes it gets you going a little bit in the wrong direction, focusing more on the number of lessons and investigators than the quality of visits and seeing returning members. It's hard to keep your heart in the right place. But it is possible. And looking back on the week, I can see the good that we've done. And that helps.

This week I had the great opportunity to go on an intercambio with Hermana Cragun, fresh from the Provo MTC with only a month as a missionary. I've decided to start taking intercambio selfies with an "I got hopelessly lost with Hermana Een!" sign. It was great to work with her. The energy of new missionaries makes you realize that maybe... you've lost it. But it gives you a little re-charge and helps you go on.

Our companionship is going great, Hermana Wiseman is doing better at recognizing my Disney movie references (which is gratifying) and made a really funny joke yesterday, so I'm rubbing off on her. ;)

I guess the miracle this week would be Alejandro. We contacted him on a bench almost three weeks ago but because of his late work schedule, haven't been able to meet with him again. But the Daytons gave an incredible fireside this past Sunday, we invited him, and he came! He has a lot to change in his life, but he's on the search for truth, peace, and meaning, and we're excited to help him find it.

Willy came to church and is on the precipice of membership. He's so beyond prepared... we just need to help him realize it. The Daytons also came to our sacrament meeting and I know that speaking with them helped.

Edit is an incredible new investigator that just sort-of fell into our laps this week. He wandered into the church during sacrament meeting 2 Sunday's ago, came to English classes on Wednesday, came to the sports activity on Saturday morning, we gave him a church tour after, invited him to a baptism that night and then (why not) we invited HIM to be baptized the end of August. He said yes, and already loves the church, and met the Daytons.

These three men couldn't be more different. But the gospel will help, and has already helped, all of them.

Concilio was yesterday (hence, a Tuesday letter) and it was different from the one with the Paces, but just as good in different ways. Hermana Jimenez is leaving this transfer and it was weird saying goodbye. It's impossible to catch-up completely with the other missionaries you know in such a short time. So much happens in a month.

It's strange to consider how far I've come; thousands of miles from my home, a foot or two of spiritual growth, and several inches in my hair. But there's so much that I still want to do better. I want to work on listening to and recognizing the spiritual promptings and serving more completely my calling.

Moroni 7:2 And now I, Mormon, speak unto you, my beloved brethren; and it is by the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, and his holy will, because of the gift of his calling unto me, that I am permitted to speak unto you at this time.

This calling to serve as a missionary really is a gift, one that I want to understand better and use to its full potential.

Love and prayers,
Hermana Een

Monday, July 20, 2015

Sudando in Summer

I read over last week’s email, trying to find out where to begin this one. I still haven't decided, but I guess I'll just dive right in.

Sudando- sweating.

Summer. (I'm also in the summer of my mission. Almost the half-way point)

Summer has always been an enjoyable time for me. It means swimming and family reunions, drive-in movies, shave-ice, marathons, staying up late, and vacations. As I grew up it also meant work and responsibility. Summer has always been fun, but there are always challenges as well. Some of them are summer-reading challenges at the local library (free books!) and some of them are making the work schedules align like the stars so that we can all go to the week-long family reunion in Utah, AND Girls Camp, AND EFY.

Summer on the mission is a whole different challenge.

Hermana Wiseman described it perfectly, but to paraphrase, "summer in Barcelona is when everyone who lives here leaves, everyone who IS here is a tourist, and everyone here is either at the beach, or sleeping, or old."

And that's the Gospel Truth.

We've gotten some closure with Eduardo. His family knows, his sister is taking care of his affairs, and we got photos printed to give to everyone who helped along the way. We're at peace again.
The beginning of this week was tough, but someone who has helped me through it (though he actually doesn't know about Eduardo yet) is Willy, our only progressing investigator.

I don't think I've ever talked about him in letters before, which is a crying shame, because he's incredible.

Hermana Wiseman is like Eduardo. Bright and cheery, accepts things easily, participates, and truly commits.

Willy is different. A deep thinker, a more of a listener than a speaker, and he wants to be REALLY sure before choosing a path. But once that choice is made, he'll never waiver.
Willy is like me.

How do I help the investigator-version of myself?

It's something I've asked a lot lately, and still don't quite have an answer to. But I'll keep working for it.

All of my mission, I've wanted to work better with members. Now that the heat has made street-contacting and door knocking effectively useless, it's become a necessity. So at the later part of the week, we start focusing on it more and holy cow, it's already made a huge difference.
Hermanas Een and Wiseman with Norma, the greatest member-missionary.

Sometimes you need a big change to teach you how to work differently, and better.

Jacob 6:12 O be wise; what can I say more? #lazyscripture

So that's the sweetened, condensed, Reader's Digest version of my week.

Love and prayers,
-Hermana Een

Monday, July 13, 2015

Project Life Journaling Cards received July 2015

Project Life Journaling Cards
“Extra fasting is NOT an approved weight-loss technique.”  --Elder Davis

Who:  Talia and her husband, Hermana Wiseman and I.
What:  A surprise eating cita. :/  She had asked us to come by at 7, so we did.  She gave us a bowl of soup and we were full.  She pulled out a giant plate and we almost died.  Quick-thinking Hna. Wiseman kept talking to stall and then asked for Tupperware.
Where:  Barcelona, member’s house.

Who:  Sofia, Hna Wiseman, and I, a member & her RM friend.
What:  The BEST plan of Salvation lesson I’ve ever experienced.  She got it, we testified, the members shared, and she committed to come to church.
When:  on my birthday 
Where:  Barcelona

So it turns out . . .  I’m very susceptible to the speech patterns of others, and adopt the phrases and intonations of others almost without realizing it.  Elder Bean—“hmm”; Hna Stilson—“Pero Bueno”; Hna. Wiseman—“Can we just talk about . . ."  Elder Maurer:  “Follow The Spirit.”

Who:  The crazy Catalunians, a motorcycle brigade.
What:  A half-hour long parade of Catalan pride down the main street of our area.  Everyone had flags, held up 4 fingers, and honked like crazy!
When:  Saturday 27/6/15 ~8 PM
Where:  C/Meridiana metro stop Sagrella, Barcelona

After 8 months on the mission, I’ve gained a great shoe tan.  But for the first time in forever . . . I don’t have a swimsuit tan anymore.

Time and Season

1. To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:  A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again. (Ecclesiastes 3:1,2,20. Yes, apparently it is possible to find something good in the Old Testment. ;) )

Time- just like a missionary's bank account at the end of the month, you never know how much you have. Sometimes it drags on, sometimes it flashes by. You savor the precious moments and somehow forget the bad ones. It's a blessing

Seasons- well, it's summer here in Barcelona, which means that our faces aren't just shining with the spirit, it's with sweat, too.

I'll explain the slightly morbid start más adelante [later], so buckle up.

This past Tuesday we had the fantastic opportunity to take out two new sister missionaries on their FIRST night. Perks of living in Barce. I went out with a sweet Peruvian girl (Hermana Zavala), and Hermana Wiseman went out with Hermana Eyring (yes, the granddaughter of the First Counselor of the First Presidency, no pressure). It was fun to capture the spirit of the newbies and show them what mission life is like. We taught a couple of lessons, went to a ward party, and got home a little late, but happy.

The piso [apartment] was full of people; two new girls (Hermanas Eyring and Zavala), me and my companion, and two hermanas (Lee and Stott) who will be training this transfer. It was just so much FUN, talking and getting to know each other and joy in the excitement of this great work.

And then we got a phone call. Hermana Wiseman ran to answer it and a few minutes later appeared in the doorway again, sobbing. She called my name, and we went into another room.

A woman named Florentina called.

Eduardo is dead.

She found him that morning. It was a heart attack.

3 days after his baptism.

We read a scripture, and I held her as she cried. When we went back out, the whole room seemed to change temperature.The six of us missionaries sat together in silence, listening to Vocal Point's "Danny Boy" and then offered a group prayer.  That's a memorable first night on the mission... and we were supposed to meet with him that next morning.

To say that this week has been hard would be an understatement. I've walked the streets of Barcelona with an ache in my heart for all the plans we had that now... can never be. We didn't want to tell ANYONE.

We had to tell EVERYONE.

I've also learned SO much.

I learned that God's timing is PERFECT, and that baptism is SO important, he waited for that final saving ordinance before bringing Eduardo home.

I learned that I can be strong. I have a testimony of the plan of salvation, I have the support of my companion and my Savior, and I can get through this.

It's amazing that someone I've only known for a month (two weeks, really) could change me so deeply, could have such an impact on this Ward and the people here. But Eduardo did.

My companion and I received blessings of comfort, and I was told that God was happy with the work that I have done in my mission and with Eduardo, and that he wants ME to be happy.
So I will be. In time.

We had interviews with the new President (Dayton), and he said that I have the reputation of being a strong missionary. I told him the story of Eduardo. He said that I was blessed to be a part of this great miracle. And I know I am.

But this great miracle came with a price. I'm so grateful for Hermana Wiseman. I don't think I could have made it through this week with anyone else. She needed me, and I needed her.
God knows best. He really is the Lord of the Harvest, and I can trust in his timing.

So that was this week.

Right now, I'm ok. Tomorrow, I'll be good again. And soon after that, I'll be better because of it.

Alma 40:11 Now, concerning the state of the soul between death and the resurrection—Behold, it has been made known unto me by an angel, that the spirits of all men, as soon as they are departed from this mortal body, yea, the spirits of all men, whether they be good or evil, are taken home to that God who gave them life.
 12 And then shall it come to pass, that the spirits of those who are righteous are received into a state of happiness, which is called paradise, a state of rest, a state of peace, where they shall rest from all their troubles and from all care, and sorrow.

 "So if you've died and crossed the stream before us, we pray that angels met you on the shore, and you'll look down and gently you'll implore us to live, so we may see your smiling face once more."
[from “Danny Boy” 3rd verse.]

-Hermana Een
Las "tres angelitas"
Hermana Alayna Een, Eduardo, Hermana Schmidt, Hermana Megan Wiseman, Sunday, July 5, 2015; the day after his baptism and 2 days before his "graduation" from earth.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Ostras, Eduardo: Red WHITE and blue.

Ostras: a Spanish exclamation Hermana Manotas said a LOT. In a Spanish grammar book, we found out that it the literal translation is "oysters." We asked a member later that day and she explained that both were true. Just like finding a pearl in an oyster is a welcome surprise, you say "ostras" when you surprisingly find something good. It's the Spanish equivalent of "eureka."

Red, WHITE, and Blue: a Fourth of July baptism.

And so another transfer passes, and we're still here! (Not too much of a surprise but, good news!)
There's a BIG group of Elders coming in so things are being shaken up a bit, and we're about to become a really YOUNG district. It'll be exciting. I had the opportunity to go on an intercambio with Hermana Schmidt. She's very sweet and REALLY talks to EVERYONE. She's a great missionary and will enjoy her new area.

I feel like I should put in a little disclaimer and practice a little humility, so here it goes. Last week I mentioned that we were finally getting to see the fruits of our labor, how everything was great, etc. etc, right? Turns out pride comes before a fall (as the scriptures could have warned me) and- to stick with the "fruits" metaphor- our bumper crop failed, the fruit we were ready to pick rotted and dropped from the tree (and dropped us). In more literal terms, we were dropped by 5 investigators in 2 days this week. And it has been a little disheartening. But we've grown and learned and moved on and really, everything is ok because....Eduardo was baptized.

Eduardo's story
Eduardo was born in Cuba, raised in Germany, and lives here in Spain. He has fought in an African war, was asked to be a preacher, and read the ENTIRE Book of Mormon before we ever met with him. He had a friend in Germany who was a member of our church but was never put in contact with the missionaries. He was contacted by an Elder almost a year ago and somehow sort-of crashed a ward BBQ a few months ago. He's had SO many little opportunities and moments, and I know that the Lord has been preparing him to receive the gospel for a LONG time. We just so happened to be the lucky Hermanas that helped put the pieces together.
We contacted him in his elevator a few weeks ago, and it's only gone up from there (I crack myself up). We ran into him again in an open-air café, and then finally when my companion and another Hermana were passing by an antiguo investigador (who just so happens to rent a room in his piso) we finally got going. Since then I feel like HE's the one that's been teaching US. He read the Book of Mormon again in just two weeks, and has an unshakable testimony of it's truthfulness. On July fourth he was baptized by a worthy priesthood holder who just so happened to be the man with whom he spoke at the BBQ months ago. He was confirmed this Sunday and bore a beautiful testimony. He knows that the church he joined is true, and loves being a part of it. He became our ward grandfather, has befriended the bishop and his councilors, and I'm constantly amazed by him.

I know that the Lord is preparing people, and that if we follow the Spirit and stay focused in doing His work in His way, we can find them. Eduardo said he learned more about God this month than in his 71 years of life outside of the church. The knowledge we have is so precious. We need to share it.

I know that Eduardo was our oyster. I know that God is in the details, and is the true Lord of the harvest. The work we do here matters, even if we don't always directly see the outcomes of it. But when we CAN see the outcome... there's nothing quite like it.
So that's my update this week.
And sadly, we didn't end up eating those hot dogs.
Love you all!
-Hermana Een
I can count on one hand the number of Doctor Who "things" I've seen on my mission (it's 3.) and it makes me a little sad, but when I DO see one.... It's a big deal.
So we were putting together a present for Eduardo's baptism (he wanted the D&C because he's just TOO PERFECT) and Hermana Wiseman found this bag in the piso.
Cute, right? And THEN...
It was really hard to give to him, but the photos help.