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

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