Monday, June 29, 2015

One Month - WHAT?

June 25, 2015
Hola familia!

Can we just say how absolutely crazy insane it is that I have been gone for one month!  Crazy in two ways. One it feels like I have already gained a lifetime of knowledge. And I have only been here one day. So it's confusing I know but that is how it feels...

Really quick. Can I just say how much your responses to my questions have helped me. I love being able to lean on you guys for support and so much good information. I want to actually make a binder with all my questions and your responses so I can have it when I get home.

Also reading over my letters I don't want you to think that I am super sad and depressed all the time. I write about some of the hard times because that's when I feel the most growth. Seriously it is like as soon as I start getting down its just so that God can show me just how high he can take me.

So I know Mom and Dad know this but for everyone else, The brother of Jared is my main man! I love his story so much and every time I learn about it I get something new from it. For example, during a devotional by Elder Bednar,  he pointed out how perhaps the brother of Jared didn't see the finger of the Lord on the first try. His faith
developed as each stone lit up on its own. I was thinking that the brother of Jared was trying to make light for others on their way across the sea. Aka serving. And when we are selflessly serving that's when we can see the hand of the Lord behind the scenes making it happen. This story is also amazing for personal revelation. However I
also apply it to missionary work.

This week at the park I was determined to "brother of Jared the park" meaning make a plan. Tell God exactly what I was going to do where I would be promise to talk to everyone and trust him to put someone in my path. Of course if I felt prompted by the spirit this plan could have changed at any time. I was so excited! I was gonna go out there
and be the very best missionary and change lives. Does anyone else see how foolish I was? How self centered was I? How many times in that sentence did I talk about myself. I realized I wanted to go out and have the best day for myself. Not for the glory of God. And how merciful is he? Even though I went out there with completely the wrong attitude, He still allowed me to talk to some amazing people and really have a great day.

We watched a devotional by Elder Bednar all about the character of Christ and how we need to turn out from ourselves just like Christ did at all times. If you look through the New Testament at every occasion where you or I would have turned in and thought of only ourselves. Christ turned outward and served. I want to turn out more. Think less of myself and focus only on others. When we lose ourselves we win, but only if we aren't trying to win. Yeah, tricky I know.

I finally know why I was meant to come to Spain at the time that I did. Most of you know that I almost made it into the advanced class and would have left yesterday for Spain rather than one month ago. When I got here it became apparent that I was at the level of Spanish most people leave at. ( writing that makes me seem so proud but I really have been so blessed by God to learn all I have!) I have been pondering about why the specific timing (of when I had to leave). I didn't have to look far to find out the reason why. My amazing district. These four elders and Hermana Brown have changed my life. All this week we have been having the most amazing spiritual talks. Teaching each other from the scriptures and sharing conference addresses. I really have learned more than I can say from them. My favorite thing we do here is read the Book of Mormon together. Each of us brings such a new perspective to the same verse. It is incredible. Elder Turner said something the other day that really stuck with me "come what may I am happy to be here" he then talked about how that was something he didn't want to forget. That being here was such a blessing for him. And even when it gets hard he chose to be here and so he will remain happy about it. I want to keep that same attitude.

This Sunday, Elder Cramer sang a beautiful song called, I Heard Him Come. I LOVED IT! Seriously I was thinking about how Christ when he suffered on the cross had to do it ultimately alone. Something. I cannot fathom. And yet through our hardest times Christ beckons us forward and says come and never leave me. He will be with us through it all because he went through it alone. Also the Spanish hymns are absolutely amazing. Each on takes on a new and beautiful meaning that I love so much.

 Dad I hope my card came and your dads day was awesome. Love you.

This week we watched the Joseph Smith movie. Completely new meaning as a missionary (as with most things) one line really stuck out to me. When Emma questioned Joseph about why the persecution was so intense,he simply said "perhaps I am meant to swim in deep waters". Now water deprived Hermana Smalley thought a lot about this. A vessel equipped to handle deep water must be strong -  think of an open water swimmer or a large boat. When we stay in shallow water we will never get anywhere. There are no destinations in shallow water. I think that our divine potential cannot be found by wading in the kiddy pool. The thing is our loving Father is not simply going to throw us into the deep end. He will train us for this great swim. Training hurts. Sometimes you want to die and think you can't finish. Sometimes we even hate the coach who is only trying to better us. However the coach
knows our abilities and will not give us something we cannot handle. However, swimming in open water is precarious even with the best training. Isn't it amazing that we have a lifeguard who walks on water? So sometimes when we feel as if we are drowning in trials or simply sinking under the weight of our own expectations, Think! Yes, in deep water the waves are bigger, but the destinations are greater.

This week we made a district promise. Elder Turner was talking to all of us and promised that if any of us ever fell away from the church he would hunt us down. Then Elder Trantham ( who is an mma fighter) said he would come too. Then Elder Merrill ( and this isn't quite so funny for you, but you don't know elder Merrill. But he really is the most obedient devoted missionary here) doesn't even look of from his scriptures and says, oh I'll come after you like a dragon. So we all promised to show up if one of us falls away. Even if it's just to keep Elder Merrill at bay.

Time for a reel of Hermana Smalley failing on land. We were playing soccer this week and Elder Lewis and I both went to kick the ball super hard and hit each other right in the ankle. The ball was right between the two of us, but neither of us went for it. We both just doubled over and shouted because it hurt so bad. My medial malleoulus
is currently invisible due to swelling:) Yesterday we were playing Volleyball and I was already for a nice bump and just got smacked in the face. So yay! I'm bad at sports on land.

This week during church I got to translate for Hermana Eyring and we also got some new sisters that are Spanish speaking so I have kinda been a permanent translator for them:) I really love it.

We got to go shopping today:) I bought the girls their birthday present, so know that's on the way:)

Time here seems to fly.  I cannot believe in two weeks I'll be leaving this place I love so much. I will always love Madrid.

Lastly I have been reading Jesus the Christ and wish I had more time to tell you how amazing it is. But I don't:/ it's beautiful and inspired.

I love you all so much and think of you often. Dad congrats on Ragnar that's so cool!! As I am teaching my investigators about the gospel they always ask how it has blessed my family specifically. I generally throw my hands up and say that there is no aspect of my life and my family that has not been blessed! Thank you so much for your amazing examples. I love you all:)

Con amor,
Hermana Smalley

PS... question of the week I forgot in family email : I would love to hear all of your different perspectives on Lehi's dream. Everyone keeps saying its so cool. I haven't studied it as much as I should so that's what I'll be doing this week.
Sent from my iPad

Sunday, June 28, 2015

This work is amazing!

June 18,2015
Family of mine:)

I love you all so much I want you to know how many blessings are being sent your way from Spain. Not only from my own prayers but from those in my district and blessings I have received. But I'll talk about that more later. Just never forget how much I love you and how much strength the Lord is sending your way.

A few housekeeping items. Did you guys get my pictures? Can you please please send me the devotional talk by Mark Calister in an email ( not a link). Can I have the sheet music for the missionary medley. And also can you email me my lesson plan outlines from my computer? Man, I feel so needy but that's life I guess;)

Alright this week I want to tell you about my amazing teachers here in the CCM. All of them are converts to the church. Some more recent than others. Others are single converts to the church who sacrificed everything to serve missions even when their families did not support them. They are so faithful and their testimonies strengthen me daily. They put their whole heart into training us so that we can become better because they believe so much in missionary work. Also none of them speak English very well so it is so cute to hear them fumble with the language the same way we need to when speaking Spanish. We learn together here:)

Last week for p day we got to go the Real Madrid soccer stadium. I'm not a huge soccer fan but it was so so cool. I'll send some pictures of all that. It made me miss playing sports so much.

I need to rave about my district for a moment. We are a district of only 6 but I know now why I had to come to the ccm at this time and not later. It is because of these amazing elders and sisters. I learn so much from them every day. When we all come together and read the Book of Mormon or testify jointly of Christ there is nothing quite like it. Christ has been preparing these missionaries for a long time. I don't feel as if I am quite on their level yet. Not once in my life have I felt intimidated to share my testimony but here among these powerful missionaries I feel I could learn so much by just listening like that wise old owl dad always talked about.

Also I set up an Icloud account which lets me share photos with ya. Feel free to comment,ext. Talk to someone tech savvy to know how to join and such. Speaking of which. Can you guys send me some pictures of you and me and my life. I left my picture book at home and people keep asking for pictures and I have none.

This week at the park I was paired with 2 Russian sisters aka Hermana Smalley got to talk all alone:) but the first two people we talked to spoke English. It is actually quite embarrassing to be speaking in Spanish stop to translate for your companion and have them say I actually speak English. But I got to place a Book of Mormon and read Moroni's promise to a young man. I was hit with the power of this book. Mormon's life work composed and his son finishing it challenges each of us to simply read it. These amazing prophets wrote these words for us. And as we share it with others their words are brought to life. They are depending on us to share their testimonies with the world. Something I don't take lightly.

Also you will be happy to know the only conversation I have had with a Ukrainian elder here was "watch me fit this whole piece of broccoli in my mouth" -  then I did. He doesn't speak English but he looked impressed;)

Sunday's here in the CCM are amazing.  It is a day where we are allowed to study just for ourselves. And take the sacrament to receive strength  to be all God asks us to. My first time fasting here was so powerful. Please don't take Sunday's for granted. Allow it to be a day just for you and for God. I know you might think oh you should have all day every day to study for yourself, Erinn is on a mission. No we spend all day studying for others. So time spent reading for me is precious.

This week I sat down and talked with President about some questions I had. He is an amazing man. He helped me understand better the relationship between husband and wife and God as it talks about in the temple. If you have questions email me he gave me the answers:)

Also here we go through a jar of peanut butter and Nutella a meal. The cooks think we are all insane, but we just love it so much! The new elders and sisters have become close to us. Random I know but I thought I should say that:) they have made all the Spanish districts closer too.

Okay serious part here, this week has been a struggle. I can feel the adversary working on me and Hermana Brown so strong. Trying to pull us down. Yesterday that all came to a climax. Both of our investigators
just roasted us and really ate into us for not speaking the language and not knowing the gospel better. I was getting so discouraged because I felt I could never been the missionary that could be a Miracle missionary. Then I had the thought that I can do all things with God. When I give my heart to him he will help me. In D&C 4 it
lists all the qualities a missionary should have. I was so sad because I feel so far away from that. But after listing all of those qualities, God then says, Ask and you shall receive. He extends a wonderful promise that we will be. able to get those qualities if we rely on Him. McKay also sent me an amazing email reminding me what a privilege it is to be here taking part in this work. The elders in our distracted noticed how much we were struggling and offered to give us blessings so this morning Elder Merrel and Elder Turner gave me a
blessing where they told me exactly what I needed and blessed you guys as well:)  They reminded me that while I might not have known I was going to serve a mission a year ago God did. He helped me prepare before I even knew I was preparing. So much more goodness. Today we had an amazing lesson on the atonement. It really has just been a fantastic day.

I love you all so much. This work is amazing and this church is so true.

Question of the week : how can I better have an eye single to e glory of God? It's in D&C 4  -  please let me know what your thoughts are. I love you!

Love Hermana Smalley
Sent from my iPad

Saturday, June 6, 2015

seriously this is like Christmas!

June 4, 2015
Hello querida familia,

I really didn't think I was going to be this excited to write you guys, but seriously this is like Christmas!

Let me start of by saying I AM SO SORRY ABOUT THAT EMAIL [she typo'ed mom's email address on her 1st email from Spain]. My goodness I felt so bad when I got mom's email. But let's face it, that totally something I would do.

Also we have our iPads now and we are allowed to check email every day after five. So if you want to just send me a small one line sentence I will get it that day and will love it! I just cannot respond until Friday. So please whenever you guys have time:)

Also mom can you put my email and the ccm address online I told some people I would then forgot. Thank you so much for washing my dress and your email was the best thing in the world. Yeah, 1Direction. I laughed so hard at that story.

So first thing the Spain CCM is very different than the Provo one. There are only 23 of us here. Total. But it makes it so fun. We have an awesome mix of people from Russia and Europe and all over. It makes communicating slightly harder but always fun. There is a HUGE Russian Elder here who I always end up guarding during sports and we have never really spoken. But I think we are friends;)

I am in the Amulek district with 4 Elders and my companion Hermana Brown. I love my district. We are the ones who spoke a little more Spanish than the others. Hermana Brown is wonderful. We have a snack stash that we keep all sorts of food in for when we get hungry... Cuz you know it happens.

The food here is very different but really good all the time. First time I had eggs of French fries but you know. It's pretty tasty.

So every day we play an hour of sports and Hermana Brown and I switch between soccer and volleyball. McKay should be proud to know all his lessons did pay off ;) Soccer is another story! They are AMAZING here. Little kids come play with us all the time and show us up A TON. But I am really good at getting in the way and playing defense. Also I have a talent for kicking people in the shins. It's like a club to have a bruise from Hermana Smalley on your shin. But I did score yesterday!!!!! Yeah! Besides that, every time I block the ball with my hands everyone just yells water polo and laughs at me ;)

So I don't know about the Provo CCM but here we teach our teachers the lessons as progressing investigators. And we started that our second day here. It is so cool how the Spirit makes my broken Spanish come to life. I realized how blessed I am to have taken so much Spanish because the rest of my district is really struggling. I am too. I still sound like I am five, but I understand and can respond which has been amazing.

Hermana Rollins and I contacting in the park
Also here every Saturday we leave the CCM to go to the park. It is this beautiful place here always full of people and we go out and contact. Now that sounds like all fun and games but let me tell you it was terrifying! Generally you get put with a companion who has done it before but because my Spanish is good, they put me with another brand new sister and we went out with our copies of the Book of Mormon and started talking. And it went so well. We also gave out some pamphlets and copies of the Book of Mormon. I sat down with this amazing lady from Ecuador and we talked about Christ. And I could feel God's love for this good woman. She promised me she would read and took the missionaries phone number but wouldn't let us have her info. Anyway that happened and it was scary. But before we left Elder Merrill told me something that really helped. He said that Hermana Smalley might be scared, but Jesus Christ is not, and that's who I represent so go out with no fear. So I did and it went so well.

McKay should also know we had a devotional from Elder Holland where he called us all as "a" postles. And he was an "Apostle" but we both are witnesses for Christ. Which is exactly what McKay told me before I left.

I gave a talk on Sunday and it was the first time I spoke with a translator. This is how it went. I spoke in Spanish. Then someone translated it to English (which is funny because the person translating speaks Italian and he had to ask me sometimes how to say things in English) then his wounds are translated by other people into Russian, Portuguese and French. Kinda cool. Church here is great because the prayer is in Russian, let's say, and then the sacrament is blessing Portuguese. It's interesting singing because so many languages are being sung that no one is really sure of the lyrics;) I sang the completely wrong verse to a song and no one even noticed.

Dad mentioned how beautiful the Madrid temple is. I don't think I can properly express how amazing it is. It is the most beautiful place I have ever been inside. I love it. We literally are right next door to it. We live on temple grounds and get to be taught right by it. How cool!! There is a picture in the celestial room of Christ clothed in red at the second coming and I absolutely adore it.

As fun as it has been here, it also has been hard. It is so strange that I cannot express why it has been hard, but I have been brought to tears because I have been so discouraged with the language and with myself. A mission has a way of letting you see all your flaws with clarity and makes you question a testimony that you have had for your whole life. I want to share an experience with you.

I was writing my mission president letter and I started thinking. Why am I here? I looked out the window and saw a country I didn't know and a people I can't speak to and who don't understand the importance of what I am doing here. Why am I trying so hard. This task seems too impossible. Who am I to think some 19 year old Hermana can teach in a foreign language?

Then I had the thought. Didn't a fourteen year old boy change the world? Didn't 12 fisherman work miracles and change the dominant religion of the time? Didn't the young Christ sit in the temple and teach the priests. Christ would have needed to learn the same way I do, from his Father by the Spirit. So no matter how insignificant I feel, I won't underestimate what God can do through me. That's all;)

I know this church must be true because they told us 40% of converts know the church is true by just seeing the missionaries. When asked what they talked about they always said I have no idea. The missionaries couldn't speak our language and made no sense, but I could feel their words. I could see in them the God they believed in. Cool huh?

Question of the week: we talked yesterday about how the Book of Mormon is the most important thing for people to gain a testimony of. I struggled a little with this because isn't God most important? Maybe you guys could help me understand more why? And if it is so important to their testimony how can I introduce it with power? I would love to hear what you guys think.

Know I love you all so much and can't wait to hear from you. I am going to make you all proud;)

Much love, 
Hermana Smalley

Hello from Spain

May 26, 2015
Hello wonderful family! 

Know that I am safe, and besides some confusing turnarounds in the airport all went well. I am supposed to let you know that my next P day when I can write you is next Thursdayhey I get today. So to me it still feels like this morning that we said goodbye, but I guess it has been a whole day for each of you. 
 not this one... so that's kinda awful, but 

Weird how time works and stuff... where to begin, I met up with my lovely sisters at the gate and we kept each other from crying too much and then began the longest day of flying in the world. But can I say I was traveling with the most amazing people. Elder Merrill being one of them, was so awesome he already handed out a copy of the Book of Mormon! He reminded me that our entire purpose is to be bold, friendly and caring. Also, sister Eyring my roommate is the granddaughter of you know... President Erying nbd. 

Spain is awesome. Really.. very very hot, but I have been here at the CCM for like 10 min and have already been able to speak Spanish tons and translate for people. 

I am so glad that Clara is taking good care of killer [my gold fish] and I hope she loves him so much. I hope all is well with each of you, and I cannot wait to hear from you guys. I have realized I am so lucky to have a family that makes goodbye hard to say. 

It seems strange and hard to believe that I am really here and about to have this amazing experience. I really am going to give my all to this and make all of you proud. I am so sorry if I am being super rambeling right now. Let me see if I can remeber and stories from flying... Well the plane to Frankfurt was the biggest plane I have ever seen in my life. It was one of those double decker ones, and I am afraid we caused quite a commotion as we tried to figure out where we were going. Throughout the flight we all knew we should sleep but the 6 of us just went on walks together to try and not die. 

In Germany I got my passport stamped and there was this cranky old man who started giving me a hard time and Elder Merrill jumped right in and started talking to him - asking about him. Crazy how people soften up when they know you a little better, I will need to remember that one;) 

I am not sure what to expect for the next couple of days but I am so excited to be able to sleep in a BED. Airplanes are hard to sleep in. I just found out that Hermana Brown and I will be in classes together which makes me so excited because she is AWESOME. There are 6 of us in a room so it will just be a party. Not tonight because we are all going to die... Anyway Mom I hope you can make this sound better before you put it online because I know its a jumbled mess.. but I have not slept since I saw you last, so cut me some slack;) 

Mom I want you to know I love you so so much and I will miss you and everyone else a ton. But I know I am here for a good reason and I will learn all I can while I am here to serve God the best I can. I set my mission goals on the plane ride over here and I will do my best to live up to them. Anyway I am out of time.. 

Hermana Smalley