Sunday, April 10, 2016

After feeling for so long we were not making any difference, God gave us miracles

April 4, 2016

Dearest family,

What an incredible week it has been to be a servant of the Lord here in Spain. What a blessing, it will never stop amazing me.

With all the craziness from Semana Santa, Easter was really different. The last day of Semana Santa is Easter, and celebrates the resurrection so we celebrated Christ's resurrection without the bunny and all that jazz. It was way better.

Monday night we received a text 10 min before lights out. Hermana Cole and I were already in bed ready to sleep. So with my sass, I grabbed the phone and said it better be someone important! It was President Anderson … humbled! He asked if we could switch our interview times so we could open the church. So Tuesday morning we headed to the church and did our interviews. I had the chance to talk with Hermana Anderson before my interview with President which is always a special time for me. Then I got to talk to President.

Wow it was exactly what I needed. Although the details of this interview are not something I feel should be shared there are a few topics I would like to share with all of you. We began by talking about my training with Hermana Cole. I expressed to him my concern that in my excitement to teach I sometimes forget to create opportunities for my new companion to speak and feel how powerful and important her witness is. I have a habit of dominating lessons, which I have tried to subdue almost my whole mission. President Anderson said something to me that changed my perspective. He said "Hermana I'm going to share with you something my mission president shared with me: It is easier to reign back an over eager horse than to deal with a horse who won't move no matter how hard you whip it, isn't it funny Hermana that your biggest problem seems to be loving to much, or being too good at what you do. We can work with that". It made me realize over again that as long as we give God our energy - all our “animo” and love he can work with our imperfect results. But there will never be an excuse for just laying back and doing nothing. God can't work with us unless we give him something to work with.

Also because time did not allow I didn't have time to bring up something that was weighing on my heart. As I opened my mouth to bring it up president stopped me and said, "To finish Hermana Smalley, I feel impressed to share something with you." He then told me that he has prayed to be able to see each of us through the eyes of our Savior and our Father in Heaven”. He told me that to see me and my work here brings nothing short of a smile to both of their faces and that they love me and are here to work with me. That all of my actions, even with my inadequacy and failures are sufficient for them. Tears came to my eyes as what was in my heart melted away and I was filled with the spirit. He also told me that in order to see the love God has for others, we must see and know the love he feels for us. I realized how often with the pretense of humility we shove away the thoughts Heavenly Father sends affirming our own beauty and worth in his eyes. Doing it is just a manifestation of our own pride. How clever of the adversary to stoke our pride by making us think we are humble. I testify that the ministering of angels is real, and that in His love and mercy God allows us at times to be His hands and ease the fears and pain of others. Hermana Cole taught me this week, that any time we have comforted or helped another, we ease the pain Christ felt in the garden. How incredible that power each of us have.

It was also one of the most amazing experiences to sit down with my mission president and hear him pray specifically for me, and all of you. I felt the spirit come into the room in ways I had only felt in the temple. We are all so loved!

Later we hopped on a train and headed to Cadiz for district meeting. As always, it was wonderful. We took some crazy pictures and actually got to get to know the members of our district a little. Because the rest of the district are all in the same ward, and we are in a different city, we sometimes feel a little bit the outsiders. But hey we like it ;)

That afternoon we met up with David and taught J. When we got to their building the whole front

wall was missing. We all stood out there wondering what to do. Then U popped her head out and told us to come in. As we sat down and started lesson, construction started and made it impossible to hear a word being said. We all moved into a smaller room and managed to teach a lesson that was super good and we are trying so so hard to keep J’s spirits up about his baptism. Then we ran across town to meet with MA & E to teach English to them. Turns out they had been so impressed with us last time they began looking things up about the church and were full of questions when we got there. It was awesome! Then we finished the day talking with our bishop about our investigators and making some plans.

Wednesday morning we came to the church and opened it for interviews again and did studies in the chapel. We then met with Yolanda who taught us about the family history center so we can use it better in missionary work. Spaniards have a deep love for their families that extends generations. It is really going to be such a powerful tool for us. Man I love the people here.

Then we went and taught M and his cute family again. We talked to them about eternal families. We told them of the sealing ordinance and that this was the reason we were such pests about baptism for the whole family. His wife told us she could never get there because she was trapped in her addiction to smoking and drinking.  It saddened me to see that despite our best efforts to help her she refused to believe she could change to be with her family forever. In the end she agreed to try with us.

Wednesday night we had English class and the Elders taught about the words needed to build a home. They said, "Okay we have a family and they want to build a house, what do they need to do?" J raised his hand and said "get married"! That brought a chorus of cheers form Hermana Cole and I! Then we had a Noche de Hogar with the JAS [young single adults] after that was super fun. We taught about the Book of Mormon. Then we played pictionary and charades. Which Hermana Cole and I are both rubbish at in Spanish but it was super fun and our investigators had a great time!

Friday we ate with P&A again. I had never had so much food given to me in my life. But S&L came so it became a competition between me and S. So one heaping bowl of pallea, a huge plate of baked potatoes with tomatoes and peppers and a brownie later I won, then proceeded to cry on the way home it hurt so bad!

That night we were supposed to teach J again but he wasn't there, so we went with David to teach M (different one) and we had a really good lesson. When J wasn't there David yelled at the building, "rubbish! This is rubbish!" Super funny then as we were walking we started talking about transfers and stuff. Truth be told I'm probably in my last weeks here in San Fernando. I desperately hope not but probably. On the way out of the lesson David got super excited about missionary work and started ringing random doorbells as we walked away. It was an adventure.

Now the miracles. As we were walking to our morning plan, a member called wanting us pick up her son’s girlfriend and teach her. So we did and brought her to conference! She is super cute and we are so excited to continue teaching her. But as soon as we got off that call, another member called us. She told us that her friend is at her house and we should come now and teach her. So we did. She is incredible. We are so excited to teach her! 

Then Sunday Morning they had priesthood session and of course we don't go to that. Our leaders told us we could do what we want. We decided we wanted to work. We made plans but that morning, we didn't feel good about our plans. Before leaving we prayed and asked that if our plans weren't right, that we would know what to do. Well our plans did fall through. As we walked away, another member called. A friend of hers had taken the lessons some time ago. The friend’s daughter was baptized but not her friend. Her friend had just called her telling her she wanted to learn more about the church. The member gave us her number and we called right away. This lady said we could come over that moment, and  we did. She sat down and said that she wanted to know if all of this was true. She wanted to be baptized and she wanted us to help her.

After so long here in San Fernando, working so hard, feeling as if we were just beating our heads against a wall not making any difference, God comes in and gives us a miracle. I almost broke down crying. God is preparing people. We just need to be worthy and ready. Those words were the most beautiful I have ever heard. We asked her what baptism would mean for her and she said, “a new start. Being free from this burden that I have inside of me and being filled with the love of God.”

Odds are she will not be baptized while I am here. But what does that matter. What a miracle. Seeing this area change and grow under my care (well not mine at all), under the Father’s care has been one of the biggest miracles of my mission.

Conference was incredible. I am so happy we had the chance to feel of the love of the brethren. President Uchtdorf’s talk was incredible. I have such a love for obedience. I truly feel that when we embrace obedience as the best way to do things rather than restrictions we are made free.

I love you all so much. You are such a strength to me!

Hermana Smalley

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