Monday, June 27, 2016


Once you find one excuse not to go to the singles ward, suddenly there's an excuse for almost every week. (it's Father's day, my Sister/cousin is performing in church, we're out of town for a homecoming/farewell, etc.) They probably think I'm inactive. Anyway, We went to the home ward sacrament meeting and then back to the YSA Sunday school/RS. As we got in there I realized the topic was Alma 5 and couldn't wipe the grin off my face. My sister says that I love Alma more than ANYONE other than possibly his wife and Amulek, and I think there could be some truth in that. ALMA 5:26 "...If you have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask CAN YOU FEEL SO NOW?" I just want to ask everyone, shout it from the rooftops, put it on a billboard, paint it on a wall, EVERYTHING. It needs to be read, said, and repeated.

I watched a "chick-flick" in theaters for the first time in forever with my sister and a couple other girls. It was a guaranteed "tear-jerker" but I left the theater with dry eyes. So I'm still heartless, and I blame my knowledge of the Plan of Salvation for my complete disregard for the supposed sadness of death. I'm part of the fearless tearless
...until someone reads a "Chicken soup for the soul" or sings a song about worth and value of a soul or bears their testimony, then I'm a gonner. The mission makes you weird(er).
I also donated blood and compared missions to a high school friend who just got back.

I've been going to the temple every week (such a blessing!) Unfortunately, I've see the sort-of unfolding of a favorite Doctor Who quote "Make all of time and space your backyard, and what've you got? A backyard." Basically, because I was used to doing it, I slipped up and forgot how special it was, started zoning out a bit... until I caught myself falling asleep and snapped out of it. I had to do something, so I started looking at it a different way, reading in between the lines and gestures interpreting old, familiar things in a new and exciting way. And after the session we had a gospel geek session in the celestial room for 15 minutes. It was the most exciting and energizing and spiritual time I've had since the first time I went through. And I learned a lot: What is old and commonplace can be new again if we look through different eyes; God knows our hearts; there is always ALWAYS more to learn of what you know.

At some point we'll all have to face it: you all are in the final steps of this wonderful journey. These miraculous and life-changing experiences have been your metaphorical "backyard" for a long time now. Don't let that make you miss SEEING them.
I had a friend over who served a mission around the same time as I did. We talked of this and that, one thing leading to another and I brought up one of my "Hermana Een Theories" about "versions of Heaven." [Basically how we all say 'it wouldn't be heaven without so-and-so' and we build up our own groups of who we would like to hang around with for eternity. Unfortunately we're not perfect so there's always someone who -whether we admit it or not- we'd rather not have in our "version of heaven." The take-away point is that there is NO ONE who doesn't fit into GOD's "version of heaven."] Well, the conversation died down and she had to go home, but a few minutes later, my brother who I thought was completely absorbed in his computer game, turned to me and said "I like your theory." I smiled and asked, "Which one?" he thought for a moment and then said, "All of them."
I know that I gained a unique perspective of a LOT of things on the mission. It really IS 10 years of experience and knowledge crammed into 18-24 months! Don't forget to share it when you can. Don't loose it. They truly are treasures. You will come home a different/better person, don't forget that appropriately sharing what you did, what you learned, and what it meant to you can CHANGE the lives of others. You are a living testimony that the gospel is true and the work is so very WORTH it.

A vencer, amigas!
I'm praying for you all, so keep up the good work!
-Hermana Alayna Een

*Facebook posts you might want to know*
A vencer, amigas!
I'm praying for you all, so keep up the good work!
-Hermana Alayna Een

Monday, June 20, 2016

Risky Behavior

Risky: Full possibility of danger, failure, or loss
Behavior: the way in which one acts or conducts oneself.
21: the age of a "real adult" in which such risky behaviors are legalized. At 21 you can drink. And you  can also (if you have 3 years of driving experience) be the "adult supervision" for a person with a driving permit. And with my brother behind the wheel, I don't know which one is more dangerous. ;)

Well, this has been a... week. I turned 21 (which I don't expect any of you to remember because you don't have Facebook to remind you, but it's worth mentioning.) My dear friend and recent convert, Manuela from Bilbao, tried on 5 separate occasions to call and wish me happy birthday, but I was never home/ didn't have my cellphone. But no one does dedication like Manuela. So at 4:48am on June 18th, I got my first birthday wishes. Bless her.

I've been working a lot more: teaching lots of kids how to swim, running out of things to do and say and feeling super awkward spending most of the day in a swimsuit. In one of my classes I raced a 9 year-old girl... and it was a close tie. (She has swum 2hrs a day her whole life and I didn't even touch a pool for a year and a half, so my pride is injured but still intact.)
Because my records were first moved to my home ward and then to a Singles ward... I had two sets of visiting teachers. And just how things turned out... they both visited me on Thursday. (Doesn't happen to everyone!) Just a heads up, your future visiting teachers will be afraid to teach you, since RMs are supposed to know everything and be on a spiritual high. Help them out! I shared with them how as a 6-month missionary, I was sent to be the Sister Training Leader on an intercambio with someone who had a year on the mission. I felt much like they did, teaching me. Don't approach it as "I'm here to teach you something." but as, "I'll lift thee, and thee lift me, and we'll ascend together."

On the funny side: I've decided to start the Book of Mormon over again, paying attention to the author- what they said and how they say it and what THAT says about THEM, what the intent is, what they thought was important and why... it sounds a bit silly but every day I find it exciting and new even though the words ("I, Nephi") are ones I've heard hundreds of times. ANYWAY, I was reading in 1Nephi 4 (Nephi kills Laban, gets the plates, finds an unlikely friend in Zoram.) Zoram is originally (understandably) a little freaked out about going with them to the Promised land but agrees within a couple verses and then off they go. But get this! In verse 36 they say, "Now we were desirous that he [Zoram] should tarry with us for this cause, that the Jews might not know concerning our flight into the wilderness, lest they should pursue and destroy us."
It really is a sticky situation. Zoram has to leave EVERYTHING he knows and go into the wilderness with strangers, or Nephi would have to kill him or something because he COULDN'T have gone back to the castle because then he would have been questioned and forced to tell the whereabouts of Nephi and his brothers. Playing dumb wouldn't have worked either. But ALSO...
CSI Jerusalem finds decapitated Laban in a hallway with his sword and clothes AND the brass plates missing and suddenly his servant Zoram is nowhere to be found? If Zoram had stayed in Jerusalem he would have either led the Jews to Lehi's family or been convicted for Laban's murder.
CSI Jerusalem. ;) So Zoram's addition to the group really WAS inspired and even though his decedents kind-of plague the Nephites for the rest of forever... it was part of God's plan.
Serious side:1 Nephi 10:17 has this beautiful definition, "Holy Ghost, which is the gift of God unto all those who diligently seek him..." The Holy Ghost isn't some VIP membership benefit. ALL those who DILIGENTLY seek him... can feel his presence. You don't have to be perfect, but you should be good, and constant, and constantly good. ;) You have to ask for and invite him, but not much more than that. 'Tis a simple "gift."

 I went to Deseret Book for the first time since I went to buy mission things. My heart ached with longing looking at the missionary section- seeing the same bag I carried EVERY DAY of my mission, new and ready for sale. Tears sprung up as I soaked in the small Spanish section of the store. I felt the spirit so strongly as I looked into the eyes of the many depictions of the Savior in the art department, each sending a message to my soul. It was a bitter-sweet experience, a reminder of an ending. Two years ago today, I opened my mission call to the Spain, Barcelona mission. I couldn't begin to enumerate or explain the many ways my life has changed since that day, because every minute since then has been influenced by that simple decision to serve. In the simplest words of a Hymn, "I Stand All Amazed." And I know you will, too. I would love to be in your shoes, but I can't wait for you all to have my vantage point: to see the spiritual and overall growth in yourself and sneak just a peak at all the GOOD you've done.

Happy American Father's Day! Take care, dear friends, and give your best in the Lord's service.
... And send me a line if you have the time (at least forward your group email.)
Les quiero!
-Hermana Alayna Een.

Father's Day (With the favorite girls...)
My new favorite picture of christ with the title "Well Done." Couldn't be more fitting.

Monday, June 13, 2016

A Wonderful Week and Willy

This week had a national friendship day thrown in somewhere (not international, but I love you all anyway. ;) ) and that was actually kind of the theme of my week. Work started, but they didn't give me ANY hours (to speak of) so I "disfrutared" and had a "hanging out with friends" marathon. I enjoyed catching up with my "seven year friends" the ones that have been there for so long (at least 7 years) that even when you go long times without seeing or speaking to each other, you start right where you left off. It's magical. (And since the mission is like 10 years of experience crowded into 18 months, we've got a head-start on that 7-year thing. ;) )
Someone was moving on Friday and I got all giddy and ridiculously excited to help them. We (my sister and I) were the only non-priesthood holders there besides the Relief Society President. Turns out that even in the REAL world, Hermanas don't do "service" like that. Turns out I still have that stubborn determination to defy that mindset. And in doing that service -seeking that opportunity- I felt like I did as a missionary.

I went to the Temple with a a friend.... and got us hopelessly lost. Turns out you can go to the same place every week and STILL not know how to get there.

I went out with the Sister Missionaries for the first time since I've been home (they don't ask me often and when they do it's last-minute and I'm at work). Their cita fallad (we all know how that feels) but we had a really good talk on the ride there and back (far away+driving mission). I mentally reminded myself that I was NOT their Sister Training Leader... and then continued to act like I was (asking questions, listening, giving advice, testifying with experiences...) old habits die hard.

But the clear, obvious, and winning highlight of the week was this morning. When Willy, a man that I worked with in Barcelona (after almost a full YEAR investigating) was finally ready to be baptized. And thanks to iPads, willing missionaries, and the miracle of modern technology, I was able to BE there! (Facetime) It was a sweet and tender moment, as the current sister missionaries sat in the front row of the baptismal room with the Hermanas who first contacted and taught him (Hermana Wiseman and I) on the iPads in their laps, and together we watched a dear friend take the first covenant on the path back to his Heavenly Father. This was a moment that "defied all description." In this work of harvesting, sometimes we plant good seeds. I was lucky enough to see this one in it's long growth. Every little effort counts.

I was looking at that picture of the Savior knocking at the door during Sunday School today. It's something we've all seen a million times, but this time I saw it and thought of all the times we spent in similar situations. We're out there knocking doors... and we're in good company. I also went to a fireside tonight and something the speaker said really impressed me and made me think of the importance of the work you are doing.
It was these simple questions: "If not YOU, who? If not NOW, when?" When we get shy or embarrassed and let someone pass by or if the fear of rejection stops you from pushing farther or extending a commitment, I want you to think of these two questions. Be determined, be brave, be bold. Know that you're backed by the BEST and the Spirit won't let you down.

I love you girls and hope you have a FANTASTIC week of miracles. If you aren't already forwarding me your emails, DO it, or drop me a line, I want to know how you're doing!
Alayna Een

some of the best people in Barcelona.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Another Week

I'll try to give an update without boring you too much. (That, and I've already re-started the habit of staying up too late. Don't do that! ;) )
-This week I re-started my old job as a lifeguard/Water Saftey Instructor. I was looking for something a LITTLE more grown up (little miss soon-to-be-legal-adult) but hey, it's easy and it pays well. It's weird to re-enter a familiar world only to realize how much YOU'VE changed... and that they haven't really.
-I taught my mom's YW kids a dry-land synchro routine for their girls camp skit (my mom owes me BIG time) and showed them the Noche de Talentos video when us missionaries did it in Barcelona for an example. Good times. It was impressive stuff!
-Went to the temple. I've tried to make a weekly trip. So far, so good! Now if we could stop cutting it so CLOSE and almost missing the sessions!
- Had a choir performance on Sunday after church for a group my mom roped us into. She basically wants to show off her talented kids (my sister and brother). Who can blame her? Anyway, it was also FAST SUNDAY and I was trying to be good so I didn't eat and... almost passed out on stage. Saved by a timely intermission. Lesson: Don't fast during performances, drink water, don't buckle your knees, and ditch the heels (even the little ones can be deadly!)
- Singles Ward stuff. You re-run into people from long ago. They're familiar so you can talk to them, but you also have NO idea what has been going on in each other's lives for the past 2ish years, so it's a bit awkward. One kid asked "Didn't someone have their mission call? When do you leave?" To which I answered "18 months ago." Turns out he mistook me for one of the other girls in the room who is leaving for Missouri in a month. I'd switch places with her in a heartbeat. (even though we all know Spain is better).
-I've gotten some friend requests from veteran missionaries. Signifying the start of a new transfer. Make it a good 6 weeks.
I remember in one of my last District meetings, we talked about how many of us knew people who said they wanted to "do the mission over again." Sure it's a great sentiment... but in what context do they wish it? Do they want to do it again because it was a wonderful experience- a time in which they were fully consecrated servants of the Lord and were able to feel the spirit and witness miracles? Or do they wish it because of regret- they realize too late that they slacked off, fell short, or missed the point?
Know that the decisions you make now determine your destiny, and decide to give it your all. The miracles you see in this transfer, this week, TODAY can be greater than any you've seen in your mission so far! If you prove to the Lord that you trust him. If you give your all, and if you let Him lead His work.
Today in Sacrament meeting a missionary stood and said "Our level of obedience reflects our level of conversion." Exact obedience is a result of deep and honest conversion. (And when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren. That's where our example comes in.)
Ok, I'm done preaching.
I love you all and pray for you often.
Have a great week!
-Alayna Een

bonus: family photos we finally got. (Does the shirt look familiar? It's the one I used to say goodbye on every transfer Sunday.)