Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Returning home: a letter from the Mission President

Death of a Missionary: The Pending Return of Alayna Een (Hermana no more)

Apparently missionaries refer to the time when they leave their mission to return home as dying and it's a thing to stage a death.  It seems rather morbid, but here is a picture she took for the occasion.  She hasn't sent an email this week, she warned us that might happen.  I figure when you die someone writes an obituary, so I did.  She'll resurrect to a new life tomorrow as she returns home.  This is the 100th post on her missionary blog.


Hermana Alayna Een, Age 546 days in the Spain Barcelona mission passed away April 27, 2016 at her mission home in Barcelona, Spain.  She was born in the Mission October 28, 2014 at the Madrid MTC (CCM) as part of the Amulek District with Hermana Ashley Curtis [Alternatively, December 10th, with Hermana Vanessa Manwill in Valencia]. She was received and prepared to spend her new live in ‘Zion’ by President Kenneth D. Lovell.  She was delivered to President and Sister Pace to begin the work of El Faro.

As a newborn Hermana Een moved to Valencia, Spain and lived with her proud Mama, Hermana Vanessa Manwill, together they were ManwillEen.  They were joined by Hermana Stilson, proving that they were StilWilEen.  After the untimely death of Hermana Manwill and the transfer of Hermana Stilson, Hermana Een became a mother (teen mom) herself to a bouncing baby girl, Hermana Manotas, a native of Spain.  She later adopted (step-mom)  Hermana Ruth Terraza, with whom she completed her undergraduate education (12-week training program).  While in Valencia the area celebrated her successes with the Fallas Festival.

Hermana Een moved to Barcelona for the graduate school of Sister Training Leader with continued studies at monthly intensive training at concilio that would continue throughout her life there.  While in Barcelona, Hermana Een studied with Hermana Megan Wiseman.  Hermana Een moved to (whitewashed in) Bilbao, the capital of the Basque region to continue her studies with Hermana Amanda Randall and the city celebrated their arrival with a festival that lasted more than a week.  

Hermana Een then moved to Lleida, Spain for some advanced studies with Hermana Shania Ingram and Gutoff and most recently was in Vic (enjoying Semana Santa), Spain with Hermana Natalie Arauco.  

Hermana Een enjoyed life to its fullest in El Faro and pursued many hobbies and interests, including intercambios, citas, fechas, and especially enjoyed standing at the water’s edge and watching people she loves dress in white.  She loved reading and kept up her education with study that included ‘The Book of Mormon’ and ‘Preach My Gospel’.  She enjoyed writing and regularly contributed to the blog, “ShesBarcelonaBound.blogspot.com”.

Hermana Een was preceded in death by Hermana Manwill, Hermana Curtis, President and Sister Lovell, President and Sister Mark Pace, and Hermana Terrazas.

Hermana Een is survived by President and Sister Dayton, Hermana Manotas, Hermana Wiseman, Hermana Randall, Hermana Ingram, Hermana Gutoff, Hermana Arauco, and many others whom she loved.

Burial will be held at the Las Vegas Nevada Stake offices located at 6100 West Alta Drive, at the intersection of Alta and Jones, presided over by President Gutierrez.  A memorial service will be held at the Evergreen Ward building at 221 S. Lorenzi Blvd at 1 PM on Sunday, May 15, 2016.  Visitation will be at the Een home.  Family will be pleased to greet friends and relatives.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial donations made to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints missionary fund.  Condolences may be left on Hermana Een’s facebook page.

Yesterday we received a letter in the mail from Alayna's mission president, Merril T. Dayton.   Here are some excerpts:

"Congratulations on the consecrated missionary service of your daughter, Hermana Alayna Een.  Having been faithful and obedient, she has successfully and honorably completed her term of missionary service in the Spain Barcelona Mission."

"Hermana Een has served with distinction as a Junior Companion, Senior Companion, and Sister Training Leader.  All who have labored with her are appreciative of her devotion to the work of the Lord.  She has brought much joy and happiness into the lives of the people that she has taught and loved."

"We have loved serving with her.  We trust that your daughter's adjustment to life at home will come quickly, and that she may always be found on the Lord's side, building and strengthening His kingdom."

"May the Lord continue to bless your and your family."

We certainly are blessed!

Monday, April 18, 2016

Lo que el señor me ha enseñado

El Señor: the Lord
Enseñado: taught
T-10: a card used for ten trips in the metro. Could also say 'T minus ten' which would be about how many days I have left.

So I guess this is it then. It's been quite the journey. Thanks for those of you who joined me through email correspondence, who've watched along with the adventures, seen the growth, and heard the stories. Thanks to all of my incredible companions (you all are, you know?), and many thanks for the friendships I've made that will last for the eternities.

When I first stepped foot in the mission home (a place I've been in MANY times since) President Pace shared the words Oliver Cowdery wrote about his time as a scribe of the prophet. "These were days never to be forgotten." Looking back, I can only gratefully say the same.  Truly, "These were days never to be forgotten." All 500 and something of them.  I love my companion. She loves me too. She's making this a lot easier than I think it might otherwise have been, and I think I'm just starting to realize how much I've helped her as well. It's been a mutually beneficial transfer that we're both sad to see the end of.  Know that we've seen little miracles (recent converts taking seriously the role of a member missionary, and the friend of an old contact finding us and showing great interest to name a few).

We're gearing up for a busy week: District Meeting and crunch-time intercambio on Tuesday, all Thursday in our favorite pueblo with some promising news lined up, and the activity of San Jordi (Catalan festival of give a book and a rose? BOOK OF MORMON!) followed by a giant Noche de Talentos...which was moved just so I could be there, last Sunday (guess who's giving a talk), Monday exit interview and visits in Barcelona, Tuesday mission meeting (I think), and Wednesday... I'm going home.

I always knew that leaving the mission would be hard, and I've been hit a few times this last month with just HOW hard it is. But this last week and a half, I've been blessed with an increase of peace. Of all the feelings that could overwhelm me right now, the greatest of them all is gratitude.  And I'm determined to go with grace. After all, "Death is but the next great adventure."

There's a tradition in the mission for dying missionaries to give a short speech, share a message, not of what they learned, but what the Lord has taught them. I promised to share it with you all eventually, and since I don't know if I'll email again, I'd like to leave it with you now. I find it to be a fitting epitaph.

Lo que el Señor ME ha enseñado.
God loves your companion, and he loves you. He put you together for a reason. The trick is finding out why, learning and teaching what you can, and 'leveling up' in the game of becoming better.
Two different people can live together in harmony when their focus and purpose is the same- other people.
You can only teach the teachable, but you can testify to everyone.
God hears our prayers, every single one of them. And in his own time, he answers them.
When we work diligently with exact obedience, we are blessed to BE the answer to another's prayer. Sometimes we're just another missionary passport stamp on that person's path to salvation.
Rejoice in the daily good you do.
I learned what it means to be and bring the light. John 8:12
I learned to believe in 10 minute miracles: eternity changers that happen from one contact, one question, a single well-spent moment. Don't waste the Lord's time.
In turns, I was taught humility, consecration, diligence, and the great importance of keeping the commandments. I was repeatedly taught patience and learned to love on a level I didn't even know existed.
Obedience is the first law of Heaven, and love is the greatest. They work hand in hand.
I know how incredibly perfect and personal the plan of salvation is. I know that repentance is real, that we can all change for the better because I know that I have.

And I know that missionary work is worth it. Its worth it because it's true. The book, the church... all of it. It's worth it because of the seeds you plant and the testimony you write on your heart every time you bear it. It's worth it because of Christ, and the honor I have to bear his name.  It's worth a year and a half. And someday when out of habit my hands move to do that "chapa [nametag] check" and don't find that physical manifestation, I can find comfort in the knowledge that it's still there, written on the "fleshy tables" of my heart. Because missionary work is worth a lifetime.

Alma 26:5 "Behold, the field was ripe, and blessed are ye, for ye did thrust in the sickle, and did reap with your might, yea, all the day long did ye labor; and behold the number of your sheaves! And they shall be gathered into the garners, that they are not wasted."
I know what kind of servant I want to be. "Thanks for your service," and off you go? No.
Oh, prove faithful! be obedient! Fear not man more than God, and work to be worthy of the welcome, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant."
And that's all I ever wanted.
This is what the Lord taught me, and what I know to be true, and I close this grateful testimony in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Hermana Alayna Een
Last intercambio with Hermana Francisco
Placentero nos es trabajar- a hymn that's not in English. It's a mission farewell. And here's the direct (not all that lyrical, sorry) translation.
1. It's a pleasure for us to work in the Lord's vineyard, it's an honor for us to preach His law and His love to his people. For His light, for his light, it's a pleasure for us to work. For his light, for his light, we'll die in Him without sorrow (regret)
2. listen to the word of God with diligence, loyalty, and strength to always remember his purity, truth, and love. With love, with love, listen to the word of God. With love, with love, wave his flag.
3. Oh brethren goodbye, goodbye! The moment to go has come. If we keep our faith in the great God, we'll see each other later on/over there.  Over there, over there, oh brethren goodbye, well, goodbye. Later on, later on, we'll dwell with God in love.

Companion fact: in constant need of hand lotion. Loves Hermana Een, and is geared to continue doing great things.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Candy, confessions and el fin

Candy: a sweet food made by sugar or syrup and combined with chocolate, fruit, or nuts. Hermana Een hoards it, 72 hour kit style. You never know when you'll need it and you always want a good supply.
Confession: a formal statement admitting that one is guilty of a crime
Fin: in Spanish, "the end."

Francis and his family including "Panchito"
Intercambio and a million street contacts. I went on an intercambio with Hermana Tamayo in Granollers. She's a four-foot-something happy Ecuadorian so we made quite the pair. She's a little afraid of contacting and wanted to work on that so when all of the citas fallad [appointments failed] we took it as a "go ahead" from God and went from work. We talked to SO MANY people and walked all of Granollers.

Kamal (que mal, means "how bad" in Spanish. Funny little coincidence.) was not baptized this week. He's been hard to meet with and still has to gain a testimony on some important things before he takes that step. That, and he is convinced that he has to have a serious girlfriend before he can be baptized so that he can have someone to support him. An interesting theory.

We had a couple very humbling "Badly done, Emma" moments this week (British literature, my friends). We had done some good things and are always, always trying to keep everything together and not leave anyone behind or let anyone down. But in two cases we really failed. It's hard to take that in stride.

It's starting to really sink in that I'll be going home soon. We're planning to extend those faithful "two week" fechas... Inviting them to a service I won't be in. So that's a little strange. A famous/favorite gospel principle is "perseverar hasta el fin" (endure to the end). I'm "perseverando hasta el EEN." (Agenda pic... Next week)
Open market, every Tuesday and Saturday. As seen from our window.
This week I've been doing an "English fast." It's something I've always wanted to do and now seemed like the best time. So for seven days (ending tomorrow) I've been in a 24/7 Spanish mode. (Only speaking in English when necessary, like to the Africans we teach.)  My mom sent me a package with American Easter candy, and as motivation to stay strong with my "fast" every time I slip and say an English word, I put a piece of that treasured Easter candy into a box. At the end of my fast, I will give that box to the Elders. It's been an interesting experience. At the end of the day I dutifully drop the treasured candy -more or less, chocolate or jellybean, depending on the gravity of the transgression- into the box. And there it sits, a physical manifestation of all my mistakes. Some of them were pure accidents -a small English word in an unguarded moment, a full phrase when I'd just forgotten- some (the bigger ones) were conscious decisions- fully aware of the consequence from when I just needed to express myself and communicate with my companion, and English was the only way to do it.  I don't like looking at it. And although it's "good candy".... I'm excited to give it away, to get rid of the reminder of my mistakes and remember instead the success of speaking only Spanish for a full week.

And that's what Christ is like. He takes our box of sins. We don't have to be burdened by or reminded of them. And though they're hard to give up sometimes, we have the promise that the Lord will "remember them no more."
Sinning is part of learning. But you know something else I discovered?
Every day I got better, remembered more, and "sinned" less. That's the process of becoming perfect. As Bednar said, "increasingly spotless."
And all that is possible through Jesus Christ.

Mathew 11:28
28 Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light

D&C 58:42
42 Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more.
43 By this ye may know if a man repenteth of his sins--behold, he will confess them and forsake them.

Companion fact: says she can't sing, but rocks the one-handed piano for church every week.
Terrified of pigeons.
Doesn't like eating breakfast

Monday, April 4, 2016

Conferencia genial; a spiritual charge

Conferencia: a semi-annual spiritual feast
genial: great, brilliant, witty. The Spanish equivalent of 'awesome.'
A new missionary mistake, trying to say 'general.'
Spiritual charge: high point, electricity, empowerment, being filled with the spirit.

I thought that my opener was clever. So clever in fact, that I'm almost certain that I used it last conference. But since I didn't save the note and don't have access to emails I sent six months ago, I'll just take the chance and go with the possible repeat. That's kind of what conference is like anyway, right? It's not the message that changes, it's us.

On Wednesday we had a great meeting of the Badalona zone where Hermana Larsen and I reviewed the teachings of President Dayton in Concilio.  Since he was there sitting in, I asked if he wanted to teach it himself but he respectfully declined. ;) worth the shot. We talked about perfectionism, set inspired goals, learned what that we "FEAR NO MAN" and heard the words of dying missionaries (me again).

We met a miracle named Helen. She was standing on the corner with three bags of groceries and soon became the second person in my entire mission who has ever said "yes" when I've asked them if I could help with groceries. She is the definition of positivity and mentioned that when she recently sprained her knee her first action was to thank God in prayer that it wasn't broken. We can learn a lot from her. She asked all the questions, loves the way we pray, and we'll be seeing her soon!

April first was a hard day. Conference sessions come on eternal timing. And we learned a lot! Little one-line lessons from all the speakers will be included below for those of you who would like to peruse them. Hearing my former mission president called as an Area Seventy (President Pace! So VERY in favor!) and the announcement of new temples only added to the sweetness of the meeting.

But now I would like to speak with you for a moment about "spiritual charge." Anyone who goes to conference with an open heart will be edified. Our friend Kamal entered a little late to the session, sat down, grabbed a marker, and started taking notes without us explaining much other than "these are prophets and apostles. They speak to us."
At the end of the session he stood and said, "I feel good. I like this. I will come back tomorrow." Feeling it in the moment and even a few hours after is easy because the charge is fresh, the spirit lingers, and you just feel invigorated.  But how long can you hold the charge? President Holland talked about spiritual peaks and the necessary descent back into the world. I've found that spiritual experiences alone have a rather short shelf-life.  Are we like the dead cars my Dad works with, needing two jumper cables from a stronger neighbor and even then, barely making it back home?  where every outing is an accident waiting to happen? After a conference, after the mission, after any of these peak experiences, it's our responsibility to keep the car running and in good repair with daily adventures in the scriptures, consistent personal prayer, and active participation in church meetings. And if we fall and forget and are stranded without charge in our journey, we know that rescue is possible and there will always be others to rely on... But that's not really the point. Our point is progress.  I got some much needed peace and was reminded that the gospel isn't just something you do on the mission. It's an essential part of life and eternity.

Review your conference notes this week and make that "action list."
Keep your battery in good repair.
Love you all!
Hermana Een
(If this was a repeat well then, I guess it was worth saying twice.)

Have you come hungry for the word of God?
We do more than listen to prayers, we add to the petition.
Kick off the weight of the world.
'Child of God' should be our primary identity.
Where are the keys? (Not that funny, we've be been locked out of piso twice in a week!). There is no 'X-Ray paper cheat here, no way around it, you need the priesthood keys.
If we win/lose/live with grace, then we will receive it at the end of this life.
Remember on whom you rely, and pray to him with gratitude.
How do you receive God's greatest gift? Don't distance yourself.
Tears shed in pure testimony as a righteous choir praises their God, 'prone to wander.'
See through the window of service and be His hands (that includes carrying groceries).
What shall we do? We all need a place to belong, we are builders in his kingdom.
I was a stranger, she hath wrought a great work.
Go and serve. You do not go alone. Because I have been given much...
We sustain inspired leaders, do we really listen to their counsel? No one goes his way alone.
God loves his children, knowing someone's name makes a difference.
Don't delay the rescue.
Ask your questions, receive your answer.
Initial, continued, and retained cleansing from our sins through the three ordinances.
Though we share DNA, we see things differently.
If we chose Christ, we chose right.
Knowledge and belief, bring it from your head into your heart.
Challenges are sometimes a signal of the Lord's trust in you.
Make any changes necessary to 'see yourself' in the temple.
Obedience is not a popular word, but it is a powerful principle. We carry within us the substance of divinity.
It's simple, the Holy Ghost.
He knows us and all our faults, and love us still.
Our response to the needs of refugees will help define US.
Some things can only be learned by faith.
We need the temple more than anything else.
Someday I will be healed, someday I will be whole.
Sanctify yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord God will do wonders among you.

Hermana Een