Sunday, February 28, 2016

We were super lucky, or protected, because it was ready to explode

February 22, 2016  
Hello wonderful family of mine,

I hope all is well and that you have seen the miracles in your lives this week. Because no matter what we are going through God is working miracles in our lives. I have been thinking a lot about something an investigator said. He asked if God was real and so powerful why doesn't he stop at least some of the suffering that is all around us and make it just a little softer on us. Besides all of the standard answers that the plan of salvation gives us, I thought: who's to say he doesn't? Who’s to say he is not already working in our lives, softening blows that we don't even see coming.
Well that's my random intro... Let's get down to it:)

Monday night we got to meet with our bishop and he told us about his own conversion. It was funny to hear that he had rejected the missionaries before, and even when they years later were teaching his family, he had left them out in the rain because he wanted to watch a futbol game. He laughed at himself and said how clever the adversary can sometimes be, to cloud our vision and let us miss what is really important. But he ended up baptized and is an incredible bishop.

Tuesday morning we went finding. Going to different parts of our area in search of new people. Talking to everyone in the world and doing all that we could to find, find, find. We have been studying chapter 9 of preach my gospel a lot looking for new ideas and trying to develop the faith to find. Then we went over to S’s house again to eat. I swear they were playing a game to see if they could fill us. Don't be alarmed. They couldn't ;) after a four course meal we managed to eat more that her husband who had to through in the towel and give up when desert came out. No, I'm not proud at all ;)

Tuesday night we saw an incredible miracle. We were going to our back-ups and passed by a family. She let us in to talk for just a little. Her little two year old boy, who is basically a Spanish Will [Nephew], but was adorably making tons of noise. She told us how when the missionaries had last come to see her she had been having problems with her husband and their family was falling apart. But as they listened together and read together things started working out. My jaw literally dropped as she continued to talk about the spirit the missionaries left in her home and how she knew what they said was true. How many times had we walked past this home? Through this neighborhood, with no idea what was already there. But God knew. It also made me reflect on my personal studies that morning, had I been working hard enough to bring that kind of spirit to her home. And I was happy to say that I had done all I needed to have the spirit there with us. That might sound over confident but I don't mean it that way, I know that I am nothing without the spirit. And God knows it too. So he gives us the time we need to search out the spirit. If we do our part He does His. We are so excited to keep teaching Angela and help her develop this testimony that she already has.

We then went to teach M & family. We taught lesson one. Again. It's an interesting situation because M is a recent convert but his wife and son are investigators. Who really aren't progressing, but we go back so M can receive the missionary lessons and do the best we can to help his family. It has been interesting to see how every time we teach a lesson they come away with a different part of it. I have faith that one day all of them will be members ;)

We finished the night with our dear C. Oh my. I love that little old lady so so much. Our bishop has asked us to keep an eye on her because she was recently a menos activo and is alone. But she is the most loving wonderful person ever. Walking into her home literally feels like a little safe haven.

Wednesday was also an amazing day. We met a new investigator at the church named A. She is amazing, we got to give her a tour and talk to her about all that we do here. She told us how it was the first church she has ever been in without the sad images of Christ or the virgin. She loved how simple and clean everything was. I didn't realize until then just how different our church really is form the cathedrals that surround us here. Ours are buildings full of light, with space to teach, and with paintings of the life of Christ. Some people might say that the cathedrals with all their intricacies are more beautiful. Yes they are incredible. But there is something so special about these small simple buildings of ours.

We also met with P and his family and heard their conversion story. P told me how the first time the missionaries knocked his door he grabbed them both by their shirt collars and escorted them out of the building. But he is now the secretary in the bishopric, and an amazing member.

We got to meet with M!
Por fin! I realized his last week that with M we had been incredibly selfish. Possibly wanting her to get baptized for the wrong reasons. She had told us she felt it would be better for her to wait until she is 18 because of her parents. While we disagree, I realized that it is ultimately her choice. Her family. And her father. How could I pretend to know the whole situation? I know she has a testimony and that she would get baptized today if she would talk with her parents. But she has told us if she tells them wrong they will say no for forever – not just until she is 18. So we taught her a lesson on Ester. It was a story she has never heard before and I honestly couldn't believe we hadn’t thought of it before. She loved it and we are going to fast this week and M told us this is what she would fast for: “To know what Heavenly Father wants me to do. If he wants me to tell them now, how? And if not now when?”

While I have been here in San Fernando I have learned so much about patience and trusting in God’s timing. It has been a huge humbling experience to me. When I got here I thought I knew everything and that I was such a “hot-shot”. But I now know how much I don't know, how much I still need to learn and how much our success really is a gift that we cannot earn. And even if God doesn't see fit to give me success in this area, I will go on working as hard as I can to leave this area better than when I found it. I know that God knows where the elect live in this area. He knows them by name and could lead me straight to their front door. But what good would that do me? Absolutely none. So I trust him. He can see the big picture.

Thursday we ate with another member family, cute Gema told us about how it was so weird to have us there because she remembers what it was like to be in member homes. Then she told us in a couple years we would be feeding the missionaries in our homes and not even know what to do with ourselves. Yeah. Weird.

We also got to teach U&J. Sigh … J, J, J. I am starting to come up short with ideas to help him. I know Heavenly Father has a plan for him, but maybe I won't be the missionary who gets to help him take the step of baptism.

Then the day of days. ZONE CONFERENCE!!! Yeah I was so excited. So Hermanas Brown and Briggs came and stayed with us. And it just happened to be the night before Hermana Brown’s birthday. So Hermana Cole and I woke up at midnight and sang happy birthday and made her blow out a candle. Yeah, we ran in their singing. They didn't even move. Like no reaction they were so dead asleep. So we turned on the lights and tried again with the desired reaction. Then we promptly went back to bed ;) we then got up at 5:30 and got on a train to Sevilla. It was so fun to see so many wonderful people again. When I first saw Hermana Peters, Elder Alexander was about to shake her hand but I didn't even care, I basically shoved pass him and gave her he biggest hug, we both might have cried a little. I love that woman.
The conference itself was incredible. I learned so so much. Elder Johnson talked about the gift of tongues and really applying ourselves to learn more of the Spanish language. He made a really bold claim that has really stuck with me this week. We were talking about the fear that keeps missionaries from talking. And he said, “Where does this fear come from?” Paused and then said, “Make no mistake, all fear in regard to missionary work comes straight from hell? It was a pretty bold statement that kinda felt like a slap in the face. But it is so true. Fear is the number one tool to kill missionaries. And it will never be the way God works. So we need to let go and just give it all we can and talk to as many people as we can.
Elder Martin asked for Hermana Cole and I to help him by roll-playing an example of a good contact. Instead (to have a little fun with it), we roll-payed an absolutely fatal contact. But everyone thought we were legitimately doing our best. So it was a little awkward when Elder Martin asked how we could improve because no one wanted to be rude ;) we laughed and had to tell them we purposefully did it badly. Hermana Anderson laughed and said even when I was trying to look discouraged and sad I couldn't manage it ;) then we did one with tons of animo and it was great :)
[Dad note: in this context, “animo” translates to: spirit, courage, valor and zest]
President Anderson’s birthday was also one Friday so we sang for him and gave him a cake :) we ate lots of food and had a grand old time. After, I talked with Elder Reid and Elder Johnson a little bit about finding and how I could help Hermana Cole have a good experience training even if we weren't teaching as much as we would like. They asked about how many news we had found and when I told them they just said, well don't get down on yourself, you know you need to do better. It was a simple thing, but it's true. I do know that, and we will:) they also pointed out it was obvious our companionship didn't lack the animo or diligence so sometimes we just need to keep giving our best and if the numbers don't follow shake it off and attack from a different angle.

Good stuff. After that, we had about four hours until our train left back for San Fernando. So we got to talk to Hermana Anderson for a while which is one of my favorite things. It was really hard to see some of the missionaries I know and love for the last time on Friday. They have been such great examples to me. And when they gave their last testimony I just couldn't even believe the amazing people they have become. It's always hardest to say goodbye to the people who are not from the US. Because I will probably never see them again. But I have learned so much from them and will always be grateful for the chance to know them.

Saturday morning was an adventure. Our whole piso started smelling like gas and while Hermana Cole was showering I went and checked the butane that heats our water. Well it was kinda leaking all over the place, but to be honest, didn't think much of it! (Weirder things had happened.) So I re-did the seal and got in the shower. Then during personal study our CO monitor started going off. So we raced around the apartment opening all the windows even though the wind here is still crazy and it was freezing! Then we called the office. Elder Red started asking me questions and I mentioned the butane problem and he was like, “Okay so besides the fact that your piso is ready to blow up and full of toxic gas how are you?” Haha, we laughed and then really quickly got someone there to fix the butane. Turns out we have been super lucky, or protected, because the thing was basically ready to explode. Not to alarm anyone. We are safe the piso is fine. It was just funny. Anyway ;)

Saturday night. No one wanted to talk to us. And it was a long night but we kept trying :)

Sunday was wonderful as usual with correlation and consejo before church. But, that afternoon I was pretty down, and didn't want to go out for another night and feel completely useless. So I got on my knees and said a really long prayer and then felt better. I picked myself up and we went out and worked. We felt impressed to knock some doors in a neighborhood, so we did. We found a lot of futures. Then we felt impressed to go elsewhere and we also found more futures. The whole time talking to everyone and casting away all fear, and you know what happened? Yet again, I became happy. Every time I forget who I am and why I am here all I need to do is contact someone and tell them. It always amazes me how it lifts my spirits.
When I was at BYU, Bishop Morley gave me a teeny Book of Mormon that now stays in my bag and when things get rough we open it and read one or two verses to give us some animo. These are the verses we read:

 Alma 15:13-14 13 And Alma established a church in the land of Sidom, and consecrated priests and teachers in the land, to baptize unto the Lord whosoever were desirous to be baptized.

14 And it came to pass that they were many; for they did flock in from all the region round about Sidom, and were baptized.

Talk about animo! Anyway we got to work and felt like we should swing by an investigator. Turns out her daughter was there and we got to teach them both and it was such an amazing experience. On the way home we contacted a man who we got to teach a lesson, and he told us he wanted to meet with is again and talk more. It was pretty awesome. Such an awesome night. So we knew why Satan tried so hard to keep us inside that day.

This week has been a really big leaning week for Hermana Smalley. I am so grateful for the mission and that I have this amazing chance to be here. I cannot believe that 9 months of this precious time has already slipped away. But there is a lot of comfort knowing that I have given everything I can up until now, and I don't plan to stop. Love you all so much. Remember that we are never alone and anything we have to face has been faced before. Christ knows and loves you personally. Draw near to him and he will draw near to you.

Love Hermana Smalley

Saturday, February 20, 2016

The miracle here is: I ate SNAILS and didn't die

February 15, 2016
Hello my wonderful family!

It has been such a wonderful week here in Spain, what they call winter is just starting to settle in here. Which means rain... And WIND! San Fernando seems like the place in the world where all the wind meets. Walking around in skirts all day can be very interesting but it is a grand adventure!

Our week was a series of miracles :)

Miracle 1: As preparation day ended last week, Hermana Cole and I went out to work. As we were walking, we fell in step with a man. Now let me just say that is like an easy, not a doubt in anyone's mind, contact. So we started talking to this man. Turns out he investigated the church 25 years ago but came away with the conclusion that he couldn't change sufficiently to be a member. We talked with him about it and he agreed to meet with us during the week and give it another try. How awesome!

Miracle 2: when we met T & S that night we started helping them out doing our normal service. First off I was so excited for Hermana Cole to meet them, because they are so different and funny! New missionary reactions are the best. She took it like a champ :) but I went to help pull out the food we would be eating and in the fridge was a whole bowl of sea snails. SNAILS! I knew we would be eating them and the miracle here is I ate them and didn't die. I almost did but I survived :) not my favorite but I can do all things ;)

Miracle 3: Tuesday morning we had a cita [appointment] with M and his family. They live in a part of San Fernando where all the buildings look the same. Seriously all of them are yellow and white.  And I wasn't super familiar with it and not exactly sure how to get there. But we did! When we got there they weren't there and I was sad that another cita was going to fall through but we waited a little longer while I looked at the map to get us to the next place. And around the corner they came. We got to teach a great lesson.

Miracle 4: we finally got in to teach a family that we have been trying to teach for ages! We had them as a backup plan and they ended up being home so we got to teach the mom and their two cute daughters. They are very religious and don't have tons of time but we will see what the Lord wants us to do and give it our best!

Miracle 5: we have been working with J since I got here. Right when I got here we gave him a baptismal date and started working towards it. But he never was super open with us. He actually hardly talked, but slowly he has started opening up to us. His baptismal date fell through a while back, but we went in and taught him and really asked him what he was thinking. He told us he knows he needs to start acting more if he is going to find out for himself. And he told us that he feels better now about baptism than at Christmas when we first talked about. It might not sound like much. But that's huge for him! We quickly pulled out e baptismal interview questions and asked him where his doubts were and now we have a plan :)

Miracle 6: our morning plans fell through on Wednesday, again, so we tried to keep our heads up and keep going. We passed by a menos active [less active member]  who we have been trying to see for ages! And she was home with her daughter who isn't a member. We had an awesome lesson and she told us how much she wants to come back to church. Funny how that visit wasn't in our plans. But Heavenly Father guided us to her in a moment right when she needed us.

Miracle 7: we passed by some of our investigators who we had lost contact with, and they were home! But not just them, their daughter who is 23 and studying law, and also David's future wife, he doesn't know it but we will get her baptized and it will be awesome, and got to teach her as well! So much excitement.

Miracle 8: the man from Miracle 1 gave us his phone number but turns out I wrote it down wrong, so I just assumed he had given us he wrong one. Well we had a cita at the chapel, but I was thinking “what's the point wasting the time going to the chapel to sit and wait for him to not come?”. I know such little faith. But we went. And guess who was there. Miracle 1! We got to teach a lesson and the stake president was in the chapel and actually came in and taught with us. So that's Miracle 9 right there.

Miracle 9 explanation: President Morales is probably the most amazing man I have ever met. I honestly can't say I've met anyone more Christ- like. He has such a love for everyone and makes you feel so special. He always takes time out of a crazy schedule to talk to you. All of our investigators who talk with him tell us that he has a light about him. Honestly it blows my mind that everyone he talks to doesn't asked to be baptized right then and there. He also has such a love for missionary work, he is a convert himself. He was telling our zone leaders how much he loves working with the Hermanas and how he wishes he had Hermanas in his ward. Oh my. He is incredible. He also has seen a lot of sorrow in his life. And is perfect example of how to overcome trials with grace, and that the best of us must be tested to become better. Anyway sorry for the rant. He is just known really throughout all of Spain as a man of God.

Miracle 10: members feeding us amazing food. Good talk

Miracle 11: we passed by some more back up plans and found some menos activos who are open to being taught and coming back to church! They are actually some of the first converts of the church here in San Fernando and for reasons of life, stopped coming. Sounds like we got work to do ;)

Miracle 12: we got to meet with Iris! She is just the cutest and when we were talking with her she told us how the JAS [young adults] have been texting her and inviting her to things, little does she know we asked them to ;). But it was so good to hear that it made a difference and that our JAS were doing it! And with her crazy schedule it really is a miracle when we get to meet with her.

Miracle 13:  ZONE MEETING! I'm pretty sure Hermana Cole thought I was crazy for how excited I got about zone meeting ;) but I can't help it. I love being with other missionaries and learning how to be better. Also Hermana Merrill (my SHE from Malaga) was transferred here. So I've been helping her with the “leaving Malaga blues”. It was such a fun reunion. And all of us Hermanas sat and talked together for a little bit. Man I love them. Hermana Brown and I are best of friends. Hermana Briggs is Hermana Brown’s trainee. Hermana Cole and Hermana Briggs are also best of friends. I just think it is so ironic and funny to see those two and remember the beginning of my mission. I was proud that when they saw each other they didn't cry like Hermana Brown and I did our first zone meeting. Those first weeks were a bit rough ;)

Miracle 14: after the traditional good burger run. Hermanas Merrill and Straddling had nowhere to go, so we brought them back to our Piso [apartment] for studies. And there we talked of missionary work and lovely things that both of us are super excited about. Hermana Straddling goes home this transfer. Which is so sad because I have wanted to be her companion so badly! She is such an amazing example to me.

Miracle 15: correlation was so good. David told Hermana Cole just how excited the ward was to have her here and how her excitement was just what we wanted. It was so good for her to hear that! He called her another one of our miracles this week! I am de acuerdo [I agree].

Miracle 16: Remember M who we taught last week? … The big guy who doesn't believe in God, covered in tattoos, who told us we should be more careful who we talk to? Yeah that one :) We were teaching him the plan of salvation this week, and he started laughing! And he said that we were just confusing ourselves. Well, being me, I didn't really like that so I stopped and told him that no, but we would explain again just to be more clear. In that moment I knew he was waiting for me to mess up and say something wrong, and I got sacred but then I remembered a missionary promise. That we wouldn't be confounded before men. So for the first time in my mission I let go and just completely trusted in that promise. And the spirit explained concepts to him in Spanish that I can't even explain well in English. What a Miracle.

Miracle 17: same lesson. M told us that all we said always went back to Jesus. And how he didn't care at all for Jesus and how he had never done anything for him and meant nothing to him. And for the first time in my mission I felt what Jeremiah explained in Jeremiah 20:9. Where my testimony of Christ burned inside of me and I couldn't keep from sharing it! I told him although Christ might not mean anything to him. He means everything to Christ. And although he might not think so, Christ did everything for him. I got to testify of the love of the Savior. When I finished he didn't say anything. But just stared at us, as we finished the lesson, and it was incredible.

Hermana Cole and I called it a celestial day :)

Miracle 19: we got to teach cute R! Her son gets home from a mission this week and we haven't been able to teach her too much. But she is so excited to have him home! We got to teach her about prayer and how God answers prayer. That was hard for her but step by step :)

Miracle 20: Ward activity Saturday night for Valentine's Day, we has a lot of investigators come and have a great time with the ward :) we ate good food and then they turned on music and Hermana Cole and I quickly had to leave because we both love dancing too much ;) we jammed out to Nashville tribute band later in piso ;)

Miracle 21: Church. Sacrament. All so so good.

We didn't have any investigators come :/  I was sitting in gospel doctrine with David and Manolo again and I realized how much I want to see some new faces in that class. I did a mental inventory of our investigators and felt really strongly that this week we need to go out and work in parts of our area that haven't been worked this week. We will see what happens.

Miracle 22: S, L & B had us over to eat. My companion got to talk with them in English. Which right at the beginning is the best, because you kinda feel super unintelligent because you forget you speak another language ;)

Miracle 23: One day, Hermana Smalley got a little down and before studies was praying begging for strength. Then I sat down and read D&C 75 which was the firm push I needed to step out of myself and keep going. God is so good.

Miracle 24: We didn't blow away! The wind has been so strong here sometimes we couldn't walk it was so strong! But it made for adventure!

Anyway sorry for the length but I hope you can see the mission is a miracle. Every moment. Every lesson really every second I get to serve here is a miracle. I will never be grateful enough for this amazing experience. He is shaping me and helping me be better in every moment. Love it.

I love you all so much!

Hermana Smalley

Saturday, February 13, 2016

I don't know why I am here tonight to talk to you, I never talk to people like you

February 8, 2016
Dear family!

Wow what a week. I don't even know where to start. Probably with Monday that would be good ;) we spent some time saying goodbye to people for Hermana Peters. So lots of running around. We got to meet with Ir Monday night and she gave Hermana Peters a cute bracelet and we got to teach her about testimonies. That night Hermana Brown and Stevens came to stay with us because Hermana Brown and I had to go to Malaga the next morning.
Next morning 4:30 am we were up and getting out the door to Malaga. I was too scared to sleep on the train, but we had a good talk with our zone leader Elder Alexander who was our chaperone the whole day, because he had to go for residency. Needless to say Hermana Brown and I are getting pro at this Malaga trip together. We finally made it there and walked to the chapel. So good to be back in Malaga again. Literally jumping out of my seat. Love that city.

Anyway we got to the chapel and I got to see Elder Gonzalez. My very first zone leader on his last day. It is so strange to me he is going home. But we walked in and knew that our trainees were just sitting in the other room, but we weren't quite ready to meet them, we had to be trained first. So we went into the room with all the other trainers. I can't even express what I felt when I saw who else was training. Elder Tenorio is training and opening an area for his last two transfers and many of the people who were training when I came into the mission are training again. I can honestly say it was an honor to sit down with them. The ayudantes (Assistants to the President) sat down and told us that they were confident that the best missionaries of the mission were there training. Honestly looking around I felt really under qualified to be there. I mean I was sitting there with some of my HEROES of the Spain Malaga mission.

But after the meeting Elder Johnson stopped me, made fun of me of course, but then shared quickly the experience of picking trainers and that they had all felt strongly that I was ready and needed to train this transfer. So even though I felt a little out of my depth I know the Lord trusts me and that president knows I can do this.

Anyway during the meeting we talked about the things that the other missionaries had done during their times training before and just got to learn and grow from their wisdom. Then they asked us to name our trainers and something they taught us. When they got to me Elder Johnson just yelled SKIP! Because my training was just too crazy :) but I had amazing trainers who taught me so much! When talking about their trainers it surprised me how emotional people became. I really hope I can become that kind of trainer who really can help Hermana Cole that much!

Then the moment came! We went into the room and met all of the trainees. I honestly could have loved training all of them because they are all perfect but my new companion is cute Hermana Cole. She is from New Hampshire and yeah, a Boston fan. We had a nice chat about it.  ;) jk, she is incredible and I adore her!

 When the ayudantes were telling us about our new companions they said that there was one Hermana who got off the train and shook their hands so enthusiastically they thought she was gonna convert them again. Well ladies and gents, that's my companion. She is seriously the sweetest thing and so determined to work hard. After meeting her I felt so honored that president trusted me to train her. 

Right after we met our trainees we headed straight to Fuengirola to do residency. Which was an adventure and a half. Then off we went back to San Fernando. We got home at 9:30 and met the Elders and Hermana Peters and Stevens. It was a party. We ended up trying to sleep 6 in our piso which was a bad idea because we didn't have room. I slept on the baby couch. And well not much sleeping happened. But no worries! 

The next morning Hermana Peters and I did our last workout together and then we had to say goodbye. That was rough. But we survived. Then Hermana Cole and I just got to attack San Fernando. I won't pretend like this week was super easy. It wasn't, and poor Hermana Cole knows nothing else about missionary work. But I am really excited to see who she becomes just because this first week was so rough on us. But that didn't keep us from trying! We had correlation and she got to meet the bishop. 

We had an awesome weekly planning and slowly started catching up on sleep. But apparently I am a stress looser. Not of weight but of things. I lost my agenda and so many other things is week because I have been a little bit stressed. But miracle! Someone picked up my agenda on the street and gave it to a member because they thought she would know who it belonged to! So cool! Anyway Sunday was kinda crazy and I sat down to do numbers with our district leader and I think the week just kinda hit us both like a steam roller. We both were beat and discouraged. But we had a talk and we both decided that the best thing we could do would be to just keep moving forward so we attacked that night with double the energy and saw so many miracles!

 I called a random future that we had. A big scary man covered in tattoos. And he just happened to be able to meet with us that night so we met in a park. He came over and said. I don't know why I gave you my phone number I don't believe in God and I never talk to people like you. And I don't know why I am here tonight to talk to you for the same reasons but here I am. We had an awesome talk and a good first lesson. The whole time I just kept thinking what an amazing member he will be ;) so turns out he is gonna be watching our backs now in San Fernando. Sometimes you make friends with good people. 

We finished the night in a noche de Hogar (Family Home Evening) with the JAS (Young Adults) that was super fun. We played spoons and just had a blast. Heavenly Father blessed us so much!

I have learned on the mission that the times that I have been the saddest or the most discouraged are when I haven't felt like I am giving my all. Or when I felt like I wasn't doing enough. I have found that as hard as it can be to contact someone or wake up 5 min early so we can start workout on time, I always feel better when I do it. Because when I don't I will always be harder on myself than it would have been to just do it. I think that applies in life as well. As hard as it might be to push and give that last little bit. It is always worth it because you come out better than before. Or you can just spend the time regretting not doing it.

Anyway I love you all so much. I'm learning so much out here. It's insane. 
Hermana Smalley 

Saturday, February 6, 2016

It meant the world, to have her finally open up

Feb 1, 2016
Dearest family,

Well I guess I better just start with the big news. After an 8 week transfer the whole mission has just kinda been holding its breath for what it coming next. And for good reason. Every single companionship on this side of the mission is changing. I'm not sure about Alicante but it has been crazy! So yeah I guess that gives it away. I don't get to keep cute Hermana Peters anymore. She is headed off to a Pueblo to be with someone in their last transfer. As sad as I am to see her go I know she will do amazing things!

Oh yeah so that leaves me here. I'm training. For real this time because Hermana Peters doesn't really count ;) but yeah I'll be headed back to Malaga tomorrow to pick up my new companion. No idea who it will be and I'm pretty scared. But I also know the Lord qualifies those that he calls. It's funny how the Lord works isn't it? When I was in Malaga I felt like I had a really good grasp on missionary work. I knew my area, I knew the people, I knew the ward. And when I was there I thought about training there and I was confident that I could do it. But now that I am here in an area that I don't know as well and a place I am not as comfortable the Lord asks me to train. Amazing how he pushes us and always asks us to stand a little taller and go beyond what we think we can do.

All that aside I really am excited, with new missionaries comes miracles. And I know she will be able to teach me so much and that we will learn and grow together and really help San Fernando flourish.

Alright big news out of the way. Let's see what happened this week for me and Hermana Peters! On Monday we got to meet with our cute ward missionary Mayka, and practice teaching a lesson 1 together. She shared her testimony about praying for the first time about Joseph Smith. It brought tears to my eyes it was so beautiful. This week I want to ask her permission to tell you all her incredible story!

Tuesday was kinda insane but we loved it! We left for
Cadiz during the morning hours for district meeting. We learned a lot together about how to help our friends come to church and how to work with the members. It was honestly really good. It was funny, I was talking to the district about how I was scared I might be training because I know how much my trainers taught me and I didn't know if I could do that for another missionary. And Elder Mitchell told me to not worry, training a new missionary is the best time to really learn to be the best missionary you can. And how I have the potential to really become an incredible missionary during the next 12 weeks. As I have thought about that more these past couple days it has helped me realize what a privilege I have  :) Also he made Hermana Peters and I brownies because we made our goal of 20 contacts a day. What a smart district leader motivation through food.

Anyway so after district meeting we hopped on the train - not back to San Fernando, but to
Jerez de la Frontera. The mission has changed how we are doing intercambios. Now both companions go to the leaders area. It was sad because we missed a whole day of work in our own area. But we learned a lot!

When we got there Hermana Rowlley and Garcia made us the most wonderful food, and we all talked in British accents and laughed a lot. They thought Hermana Peters and I were basically a match made in heaven. We agreed. Anyway then it was time to head out to work. I went with Hermana Rowlley to the outskirts of their area.  They have the biggest area I have ever seen! It is huge. And the bus system there doesn't run well so hey walk everywhere. It took us an hour to get there. I mean we were contacting everyone, but still. Crazy. That night it was kinda a Rough night. We blew through the plans. And basically contacted for 6 hours. But I learned so much about how to make better contacts and better use the resources available. But that night we taught an amazing lesson to one of their investigators with the bishop’s wife, that made all the rest completely worth it! But after the lesson we waited with the bishop’s wife for him to come pick her up. We were about 5 min from home and had about 20 min until we had to be inside. So we figured we were safe. Then the bishop pulls up and says Hermanas. I need you to come with me. Turns out he needed us to help him find a member’s home. And he expected us to come in and teach a lesson with him and then he would take us home. We quickly explained at we had 10 min to be home and couldn't come in. At this time we were about 20 min away from piso. So we made a dead sprint back to piso. But we were on time, so worth it. We got there completely dead and Hermana Peters and Garcia were waiting with the heater on, music and orange juice. It was a pretty funny contrast between the two nights we had. But we had a big sleep over and it was so much fun but the party ended exactly at 11 - don't you worry.

The next morning we woke up and did some of our favorite p 90x moves to this amazing music Hermana Rowlley has. Don't mind this slight product placement. But Nashville tribute band came out with a CD that is called “Redeemer”. That is songs all from the perspective of other people all throughout Christ’s life. It is amazing. Mom, you must look it up. My favorite is called “Apostles”. But the second favorite is “When He Comes Again”. So yeah :)

Anyway, I spent the morning working with Hermana Garcia in the same far away area. We contacted a lot as well. I really learned a lot about listening. We contacted this one lady who told us right alway she didn't want to change but she also really REALLY liked to talk. I tend to get a little frustrated with people like that and just try to get away ASAP. But Hermana Garcia listened intently and then bore her testimony. Listened and bore testimony - for a good long while. After that the lady completely changed. She started listening and admitting that maybe she needed more. It was incredible to watch. I really want to apply it and become more patient with others. Intercambios were so fun I really love them because it is such an opportunity to learn and be better.

Anyway it was a little colder than I anticipated in Jerez. So I actually got sick while I was there, and then the most random thing happened. My voice just completely left me. I couldn't contact on the street because I had no voice! In lessons poor Hermana Peters had to teach because every time I tried the words didn't come out! It was actually really saddening but it allowed me to practice some of the counsel we got in the world-wide broadcast. About listening for the spirit when you aren't talking and praying for your companion. We also have had some pretty funny moments with my voice, including singing in the morning (fatal), experiments with random mixes of lemon honey and milk, and Elder Johnson accusing me of lying because it sounded like I was sleeping. But this voice of thunder better get ready to proclaim the gospel pretty soon! Anyway even though I got sick Hermana Peters and I didn't want to miss any more work days in our area so we just kept working. And got to meet a lot of new people.

We taught M's mom Friday morning. And she asked us if M had been baptized! We laughed and told her no, but she should talk to her daughter about how she feels about the church. We taught her mother about the plan of salvation and it was actually an awesome lesson.

Saturday night we got to teach M herself, the lesson didn't go how we had hoped it would, but it completely changed Sunday night when we went to the chapel so the Elders could give her a blessing of health. After the blessing the spirit was so strong and Elder Kroff told her that he felt very strongly the Lord and a big purpose waiting for her. And I asked probably the boldest question of my mission. I turned to her and said, "M, you know this is true, why haven't you been baptized yet?" And she finally was honest with us. She told us the real situation, and we helped her make plans to talk with her parents and we are really hopeful that this will help her. It was such a spiritual moment and it meant the world, to have her finally open up.

We also had correlation with David where he told me all his horror stories of training. So that was helpful. Really excited to bring a new Hermana here and watch this area grow.

Anyway sorry for the length yet again. I am so grateful to my Heavenly Father for this new opportunity. I feel as if he is really helping me not lose my energy or drive in the work by asking me to train. Because even though I am tired there is no way I'm going to teach another missionary anything - but the best way I know how to do this work. What a blessing because as I teach I will find an even better way :) Love you all!

Hermana Smalley