Monday, October 26, 2015

First Impressions

Impressions- in Spanish, you call them susurros or spiritual promptings. Having the distinct idea or thought to DO something specific. Learning to recognize and heed them is key to successful missionary work. "First Impressions" is also the original title of the book we know and love as "Pride and Prejudice."

This has been a good week. I actually don't have a ton of time and I'm in a Locotorio [public computer] again (out of necessity) so please forgive the spelling errors (and mom, please correct them before posting to the blog. Love you.) So let’s just go over a couple of updates.
Hermanas Jorgenson, Schmidt, Een, Randall

Palacio de la Magdalena, Santander

And the lighthouse!

Intercambios [exchanges]. We did two back-to-back. It gets complicated. It gets fun. One was with Hermana Jorgenson (started her mission with me in Valencia, one transfer behind, went home for medical reasons, and recently returned. Glad to have her back!) and she wanted to work on Spanish so I made a conscious effort to talk less. It grew her confidence, we taught better, and I think it's something I need to have in mind better for MY companionship as well. She's super sweet, we got lost a little bit, extended two baptismal invitations (just go for it) and ran home.

Hermana Villeta is a true Shiblon -like soul. Bless her. We mostly contacted (I almost burned myself out) but we saw a lot of miracles and found some good news and potentials that will really help out her area. She was so humble and just wanted to learn and grow. Another great intercambio.
Halloween treats in Bilbao

On Sunday we had another cita [appointment] with Manuela. Normally after teaching the Resoration we would go into the second lesson but we decided to clarify the Godhead and teach her how to pray. And it was inspired. It was exactly what she needed. One thing led easily to another and I know that although we did our best, it was the Spirit, working with our willing hearts, guiding that lesson.

Three other occasions this week I've had distinct impressions (that I recognized as such) to talk to people. One was across the street and she was on the phone (almost didn't do that one... but we gave her a card), one on the last contact of the night (a sweet spiritual experience) and again with a lady who wasn't very interested outside of a bar. But after the prayer, she teared up and asked if she could give us a beso [kiss/greeting].
Funny how on the mission, that's an amazing thing.
Autumn leaves in Bilbao, Spain
There's an EFY song I want to close with.

I feel something inside me, like I finally found my way.
I know  . . My savior loves me, and I wanna show him I feel the same.
So I’ll go wherever he may lead, be the person that I wanna be,
 and try to never let him down again.
I wanna be someone, someone he can count on.  
I wanna be someone who can take on anything.
I wanna stand up, be what I was made for.
I wanna make it so it’s easy to see that he can count on someone like me.
I’m changed.  My heart is growing, and I’m becoming more like him.
I can’t think of anything more sweet than to follow where the spirit leads, 
Be the answer to someone else’s prayer.
I wanna be someone, someone he can count on.
I wanna be someone who can take on anything.
I wanna stand up, be what I was made for.
I wanna make it so it’s easy to see that he can count on someone like me.
He will give me strength when I need it, so I can be what he wants me to be.
Someone, someone he can count on.
I wanna be someone who can take on anything.

I love you all. Have a great week.
The two lighthouses.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Filled with Mercy (oncoming storm)

Mercy: compassion or forgiveness shown to someone whom it is within ones power to punish or harm (don't argue with the dictionary)
Oncoming storm: a Doctor Who reference I might have already made... So I used the other title just in case. ;)

On Tuesday we had interviews with President, which means it's been about 3 months since our last ones, which takes me to a trip down memory lane, how our interviews were 2 days after we found out that Eduardo died. Going into that interview I was calm and collected. I told his story, and I didn't cry. A lot can change in three months. Walking into the chapel, there was a letter from Edy (who I taught in Barcelona and was baptized the next weekend). It was pure and beautiful, maybe the best letter I've ever received. And boy, it sure tipped my emotional scale and I just cried right on through the interview. My time here in Bilbao sure is a stark contrast to what I saw in Barce. I received comfort and counsel and the challenge to find joy in every day (which until that moment, I hadn't quite realized that I hadn't been doing). That night we had a cita [appointment] to rescue a recent convert [Darwin], and ran home (adrenaline boosting into a great week).

Wednesday: A great English class (I learned I really love teaching it, and tying everything together in a neat little bow, making the spiritual thought connect to the vocab we learn.... Nothing better.) we went out on a limb and ended up giving out 3 Book of Mormons. (Insert 'Best Two Years' debate) Thursday: Rediscovering the importance of member presents [at lessons]. We've been struggling since we got here, because I've been trying to do it my way, thinking I was strong enough on my own. I learned the hard way that this is His work, and it must be done His way, and that is through the members. Yuliberth and Yulieth dragged us around our area. We gave out two more BOMs and found a new part member family to teach.

There comes a point in every area where everything makes sense. The names from the area book and the faces of the members and the stories you've heard all start to blend and weave together, and you finally start to understand. Part of what made this week so great is that I feel like we reached that point.

There's an investigator named Manuela. And she's wonderful. She loves us, and has a real desire to understand and learn for herself. She loves God and knows that the has helped her much throughout her life. She calls us her Angels, and cried when we gave her a Book of Mormon with a little dedication in the front. And she helps make everything seem worth it.

I got the quilt block with the whales in the mail--actually a little before--the picture of her with it.
To be honest, I may have spent too much time "soaking in the hot tub of self-pity" in my time here. (Thank Hna. Randall for that imagery) and now that I've stepped out a bit, things are looking a lot brighter. I've been watching the darkening clouds and dreading the oncoming storm.

There is a Mormon message that quotes a hymn. I was sure it wasn't in our hymn book because the words were unfamiliar. But it turns out that it is.
The tune leaves room for improvement, so I guess it isn't sung much, but it's been on constant repeat in my heart since the day I discovered it. (For the music-minded folk, you can also put the words to the tunes of other well-loved hymns for better usability.)

hymn number 285
God moves in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform;
He plants his footsteps in the sea, And rides upon the storm.
Ye fearful Saints, fresh courage take; The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break In blessings on your head.
His purposes will ripen fast, Unfolding ev’ry hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste, But sweet will be the flower.
Blind unbelief is sure to err, And scan his works in vain;
God is his own interpreter, And he will make it plain.

Have a great week. You are in my thoughts and prayers (but not all that often, because I'm not trunkie yet. ;) )
Hermana Een

Monday, October 12, 2015

The Little, Small Things

Yes, we went in
Little/small: of a size that is somewhat less than usual, diminutive (way to go dictionary, defining an easy word with a big hard one), etc. In the case of the subject line, a somewhat obscure Nanny McPhee quote.

You know what is little and small? Eggs, nits, and lice bugs. They've made their reappearance, helped on slightly (I predict) by a sweet girl in our Ward who LOVES to hug Hermana Randall, though it's hard to say for sure and doesn't help that we're in a culture where besos (putting your heads together and making a kissing sound... also a great way to spread the little buggers) is THE greeting.
Here's a cute except from my companion's email.

“Spanish word of the week: piojos . . . Translated to "lice" in English. I found out this week that I had lice . . . again. Woot!  Woot! Party in my hair . . . And my companion's hair . . . And all our blankets and sheets and towels and clothes. I never had it before the mission, but I've now had it 3 times - all in the last 3 months with my last 3 companions. Hermana Een (who now calls me "Itchy Head") has had a lot of patience and little fear as she combed out a whole bunch of the little suckers and nits and eggs. With that and washing all our stuff multiple times and using special shampoo, it should be all good soon :)
I was trying to think of how I could be all "clever" and tie lice into the Gospel somehow . . . But nothing related to little bugs showed up when I searched . . . But here we go :) I feel like there are a lot of little things in our lives that aren't immediately spiritually life-threatening, but that don't belong. We can't ignore the "cockroach in the ice cream" and justify our actions (such as watching inappropriate T.V. show/movies because they aren't "that bad', only have a few bad parts, or because we know other members are doing worse things.) Our spirits are very sensitive to things that drive out the Holy Ghost - and Satan wants us to be unworthy of this Guide so that we will fall easier, faster, and further. The longer we go without cleaning up the little "eggs" or big "lice" in our lives, the faster the consequences spread. It affects other people and the way we view ourselves. Change takes time, but as you "try a little harder to be a little better," you will be cleaner and happier :)”

The Milka bar bet for transfers!  Your buy a Milka bar, and the companion who leaves gets it.  If you stay, you share it.
(I started it with Hermana Terrazas)

Bilbao is just as beautiful as ever and the weather (even with a somewhat reliable weather app) is unpredictable. The day you wear boots it's sunny and bright, forget your umbrella and it will be cold and rainy. ;)
This is what the sidewalks in Bilbao look like.
Things here haven't changed all that much, but I'm starting to see the little differences our time here has made, specifically in the life of a menos [less] active (Carlos) and his girlfriend (Manuela) who have really opened up to us. So that helps.
Lately I feel like I could write a book entitled "Being tall and falling short." Feeling ridiculously inadequate for my calling as a Sister Training Leader, as a missionary... everything. And then I remember the testimonies of the three new apostles, how feeling inadequate for the call was central to at least two of them. So if I'm feeling humbled, at least I'm in good company, and I'm sure it's a good thing when you apply it right, which I will try to do.

And we did have a little ray of sunshine with an area book find who accepted a baptismal date, making our first fecha in the area! Looking forward to moving the work forward, but for now I'll do my part with conducting the music for baptismal services (the Elders had two back to back and the only musical preparation was to make sure we came. I'm grateful for a companion who can play all the hymns and then some.) We've met with the Relief Society president and talked about who we could visit with and it has turned into a wonderful, mutually beneficial relationship I'm so grateful for.
Our tortilla de patata

The infamous kebab

I'm also learning patience, as I comb through Hermana Randall's hair and wash the sheets and towels again, and we even tried the mayo treatment which really just made our hair really oily. Pero bueno. [But good.]  On we go.

Alma 37:
6 Now ye may suppose that this is foolishness in me; but behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise.
7 And the Lord God doth work by means to bring about his great and eternal purposes; and by very small means the Lord doth confound the wise and bringeth about the salvation of many souls.

Love you all. Have a great week.
Hermana Een

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Conference, Concilio, and Carrying On

Conference: our twice-yearly opportunity to hear the prophet and apostles speak. We say our church is founded on revelation, and this is our way to prove it. Also where we sustain new and current church leaders (we were all voting President Pace to the 70... We'll see. ;))

Concilio- leadership council which was pushed back a day so that we could see all of conference (hence the late email).
October Concilio in Barcelona

Carrying on- an issue of mind over matter. When you can't change the circumstances, change your mindset, and it's amazing what you can accomplish.

Lice has been tamed, walking is easy again, and we are carrying on.  I love general conference. Before the mission the only things that made me tear up were Pixar shorts and Mormon Messages, but now you set me down in front of an Apostle of the Lord bearing a heartfelt testimony of the Savior and I get all misty-eyed. Conference is great and I repeat the challenge President Monson usually gives and invite you to review the talks, ponder the doctrines, and apply the principles. I know I will.

We had a District meeting, and my old companion (Hermana Wiseman) is opening San Sebasti├ín (arguably the most beautiful part of Spain) and training! It's good to have her closer and be able to catch up.  Having a new area open up is a great thing! And then I found out that I am in charge of doing intercambios with those Hermanas as well, making a total of 7 intercambios within is 6 week transfer (take out the first and last, and that would be averaging 2 a week). So that's been weighing on my mind like a metric ton (because we're in Europe).  But I received a lot of peace through conference and mentioned it to President and we'll see what can be done.  Concilio was good.
Elders Bledsoe, Loaiza, Batis, Stapleton, Dunn, and Tonks. Hermanas Roggiero, Wiseman, Randall, Een
District Meeting

We were able to meet with a man who took lessons from the missionaries 7 years ago. He still has the Book of Mormon and has a desire to learn more. We're just grateful to have someone who can progress.  It's getting colder again, and we think it's here to stay.

Love you all, and hoping you'll have a great week!
 -Hermana Een

To Dad:  Someone is moving into a new piso... Which is hard here, since you have to use to windows for the big stuff and there are 4-12 floors in the average building so...
The precarious nature of the foundation reminded me fondly of your frequent building projects...
:) love ya!

 "Chillin like a Villain" in the "Frozen" church freezer

Close up of Ana and Hans

Saturday, October 3, 2015

October-September Project Life Cards

2nd Transfer, Barcelona :)
Fun memory—Barce Buffet.  We had a tradition to go after District meeting.  The lady gave us group discounts and LOVED Elder Maurer.  We laughed, joked, and role-played the creative team of a Carlie Ray Jepson song (I really, really, really really, really, really like you”).  Can we repeat “really” 8 x’s?  No.  Cut it down to 6 and repeat the chorus 2x.  That’ll do it.

3rd time’s the charm . . .
I told Hna. Randall about how I had been separated from my companion on 2 different occasions on the metro.  I also mentioned the jinx of telling the story—means I’ll lose you next—A week passed and nothing happened.  Somehow the subject was brought up again and the next day Hna. Randall didn’t quite make it on before the doors closed.  I signaled for her to go to the next stop and waited for her there.  It was only a few minutes, and we were re-united without a problem.  Still funny, though.  The curse continues. :)

Remember This
Right time, right place.
   Sunday nights are hard here in Bilbao.  We just haven’t had a lot of direction/people to visit.
After a good recent-convert lesson in the church with Jennifer, we made a couple of calls and then . . . Decided to do pass-bys of members.  I thought maybe we should go to Sestao (somewhere sort-of far we hadn’t been to yet) but Uribarri is just so much closer . . . .but we said a prayer and I started thinking ‘maybe we’ll go to Densto’ but Hna Randall said Sestao so we headed off to the metro.
   After a couple of stops, I caught someone’s eye on the station.  She waved and I waved back, but I didn’t recognize her.  We decided she was probably just a member who saw our chapas and decided to say ‘hi’.  I fingered my chapa as we talked and after a few moments the lady next to us looked over and asked if we were Mormons.
   Her name is Carmen, she’s been here for 5 years and despite diligent efforts, hasn’t been able to find the church here.  She lost her Book of Mormon and said she feels the loss in her life.  She desperately wants to read and come to church.  I gave her a BoM (since I always have one in hand) and we gave her the address and our numbers.  She just seemed so grateful!
   And I realized that if we had decided to go to Duesto, we still would have been on that train & met her.  We are always guided, Even when it doesn’t seem so.

Fun Spanish Mistakes
We were washing dishes in the church after a ward activity.  Jennifer comes up behind me and said—“I thought she said—“Dame un abrazo”[“give me a hug”, however when double-checking with google translate I missed an “r”, which then means “give me a spleen”  the Spanish mistake just got even funnier.].  So I gave her a hug.  It was nice.  After a moment she said “gracias, Hermana, “Pero dije una vaso.” [“But I say a glass.”]  So with a laugh I handed her a cup.

Top 5 Metro Moments:
1.  Someone bringing on a 6 ft tree, spreading dirt around until he got off 3 stops later.
2.  Trekkies on a Train—2 fully-dressed cosplayers (red-shirted woman and Capt. Kirk) get on.  I regret not contacting them.
3.  Fallas band—the doors were shutting and they pushed them open to let the last trumpeter on.
4.  A woman had a cat in a carrying bag.  She didn’t let the cat out of the bag. :)
5.  The boy popping a zit in the mirror of a metro station.

Onward Ever Onward
Bug bites here have increased at an alarming rate (hence the list on the other side).
Top 5 WORST Places to have a bug bite
1.  Face—the humiliation factor.  Not only does it itch, it looks like acne, adding insult to injury.
2.  Back of the knee (Your knee-pit)—Especially as a missionary where kneeling prayers are a 4+ daily occurrence.
3.  Sock line/legs—a bug bite at the sock-line is set up for constant irritation and will take longer to heal.
4.  Hands/thumb and palm—Every time you wash your hands—which you do a lot—it gets re-irritated.  Thicker skin on your palms = :(
5.  Elbow—Resting on your elbow is no incomfortable [should be a ‘u’ not an ‘I’ . . . blame it on infrequent usage of English recently] and impossible.

“There is NO ONE I would rather lose EVERYTHING with.”  --Hermana Randall  about our 1st day

Scripture find—1 Corinthians 3:10  LEGO MOVIE REFERENCE. (10 According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.)