Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The rain in Spain, it stops everything!

April 11, 2016
Dear family,

Wow! How strange another week!  I don't believe it. Anyways it's been a good one here in San Fernando I'll tell you about it:)

So for p day last week it was raining all day. So we started the day watching the last session of conference which was incredible and then we ended up just ordering pizza and staying at the chapel to chill and talk. It was actually super fun.

Then we went out to work, we started by going by to teach Y. It was awesome!  We were teaching her about lesson 3 and she started asking us questions more about lesson one. So we took a step back and taught a little better the restoration. My wonderful companion was so bold in the perfect way telling Y that the authority of God is found only in our church. It was a pretty powerful experience. But because our lesson went a little bit over we ended up needing to run all the way, in the rain, to another cita. You need to know something about rain in Spain. It stops everything!

It's like snow in Alabama. No one goes outside, no one does anything until hours after the sun comes back out.  So we were out in the rain alone;) running to our next cita, and we got there almost an hour late. 

When we got there they asked why on earth we had come?  Didn't we know it was raining? Standing there dripping wet we assured them we did in fact know it was raining. We laughed and taught a awesome first lesson. I am so excited to keep teaching them.

Tuesday afternoon we had an amazing lesson with a new investigator.  First off, there are few parts of the gospel that impact me more than the Atonement of our Lord and Savior.  I have a very deep rooted and personal testimony of the reality of repentance and the truth of forgiveness.  And it is my favorite gospel subject to testify of.  We went to teach this cute young lady who has had an incredibly hard life,  and has had to pass through some very, very hard times. Most of her trials coming because of other people's horrible decisions. This cute mother told us how she feels so lost like she doesn't know where to go.  She wants to go somewhere she can feel safe and surrounded by good people.  But most of all she wants the guilt she feels to be swept away. After she explained all of that to us, we had the privilege of testifying to her of the reality of repentance and the fact that she would not be held responsible for the choices of others. We testified that all the pain she felt could be taken away and that she could find her path with the help of the Savior. It was incredible. I love being
a missionary!

Wednesday morning we got to meet with G. Oh G!  Last time, we met we explained the Book of Mormon to him and told him to read it to know if it was true. This time, he came back with 15 pages (Not kidding) of evidence of why the Book of Mormon was not true. He began reading them off and even though I felt the urge to jump in and give him the reasons for all of the doubts, we just let him keep going. (It was easier for us then our cute member -  she got pretty frustrated;)) I honestly think after a while he could tell just how silly all of it was and he stopped reading this list and told us to defend the book.  Which we actually didn't end up doing. We simply asked him why he was meeting with us. And he told us how as he has begun looking into different churches.  He has found nothing but confusion as to what could be the truth. As we talked, it became evident that behind the show, he really wanted to know if what we were saying was true or not. Then we asked him if he has actually read the Book of Mormon, or only read about the Book of Mormon. He admitted to not having read much of the book for himself. So we simply told him we would talk more when he read the book for himself. It really is something wonderful to have so much confidence in the promise of the Book of Mormon. Knowing that if they read and ask, they will know. Even though we left with major headaches, we know he felt the Spirit.

Then we taught English classes! I came again and gave us both sea shells. Man I love her!  J also brought parts of his test that he took recently so we could help him understand why he had gotten some questions wrong.  Man! That English test was hard! They laughed at us and told us they didn't feel so bad for failing it now. They also got a kick out the word sneaky, we couldn't find a translation for it! V gave us some, but I'm still deciding if I can trust it. Members think it is really funny to give missionaries weird words.

Then we went by to teach who we thought would be J and T. But we got there and poor T was there with her two kids running around trying to do about a billion things. The poor lady works all week and so only has one day a week to do the cooking for a family of 5. It became clear, the best message we could share would be one of love and service. So we started helping her fix the meals for the week.  I ended up peeling skin off raw chicken... And all sorts of adventures! But we got to serve her for just a little and tell her how loved she was.

Then we went to C’s house and found it filled with non member friends! Missionaries dream! So we went in and got to teach them. Turns out they live in Chiclana, but hey!  It was a great experience!

Thursday we taught Y again, but this time we brought M. Oh my!  Perfect.  M walks in and sits down to the lesson and shares the most powerful testimony of the restored gospel I have ever heard! It was like the Spirit smacked all of us in the face, in a gentle, loving Spirit like way.  It was a game changer. Seriously, members testimonies are so powerful when they are able to say, I remember what this was like. This was my answer.

Friday we had zone meeting! It was really good.  We talked about the importance of goals and how they help us make every single day count. On the way over to get food as a zone, Hermana Cole and I were ahead of everyone, Claro, Because food is important. We ran into G - he talked to us for a bit, and then kept walking. It was super funny to see his reaction as he ran into a wall of nearly 30 missionaries right behind us. I guess you can say it's kinda a cool sight to see all of us together.
We had correlation that night with M and D.  I love our missionary team!  As we were talking to D I realized just how much this area has grown in the past couple months. It is always nice to reflect on everything we have done and see that, in fact, we are doing something.

We also taught I that night! It was awesome! We reviewed lesson one trying to resolve any doubts she might have. We found none and when she came to church on Sunday, she started by telling D that she wanted him to be the one to baptize her! Yeah, it was pretty cool.

Saturday morning for workout we ran to the church and played basketball with the elders. We played horse because the ball was flat.  But we wanted to get a good workout so we started running ladders if we missed. Turns out as long as I can throw it like a water polo ball, I've got a pretty good aimI  So I didn't have to run too many ladders;)

Saturday we got to teach S again. Yay!  Then we went back to piso for medio dia and left early so we could open the chapel for a EFY or FSY meeting.  EFY here is huge!  They only get to do it once every other year so when it happens, it is a big deal.
Anyway Saturday night started and we were both drained and tired. We were trying to pass by people but no one was home and we were just done. So we sat down on a bench to re-evaluate our lives. We called our district leader for a 5 second pep talk. He reminded us of the people waiting for us to find them and then told us he would call back in 2 hours and expect to hear a miracle.  So here's what happened...
Miracle one  - We stood up off of that sad lonely bench and got to work.
Miracle two -  as we were walking I casually pointed out to Hermana Cole a home where an investigator lives. She shouted, Yay! Let's go! Grabbed my arm quite forcefully, and dove into the road. Problem -  She forgot to look both ways and didn't see the van who was also planning on using the road. Thankfully their brakes worked very well and we all walked away laughing.
Miracle three -  we both felt like we should go by and try and see R because she is almost never home. We had already tried earlier that morning and she wasn't there, but we decided to try again.  We managed to make it up the stairs and got to the door.  After what felt like ages, which probably translates to about 10 seconds,V throws open the door and welcomes us inside. Man was it nice to see someone happy to see us at their door! Sometimes on the mission there isn't too much of that!  Not only was R home, but also a friend
of V’s was there.  She is German and has been living in London and decided to come back with V for a little while and visit Spain. She is one of the happiest people I have ever met and made the whole experience really fun! We sat down and got to share a quick message, but we did it in English!  Wow!  That was hard. I found myself struggling for words and needing to pause a lot to really think about what I was saying.  But because I have a tendency to rush through everything, I think it was probably better that way. I felt the Spirit, so I know she did.  It was a little awkward at the end of the lesson because I could not for the life of me remember how to close a lesson in English!  I started, "that’s what we wanted to share with you and... And....!" So embarrassing!  V had to help me close. But everyone except me thought that it was pretty funny.

They asked us to stay for dinner, it was 9:45 PS so normal Spanish dinner time, but we were fasting so V gave us some snacks to keep in our bags. Someone served a mission and knows what's up. If you ever have the missionaries over, give them something to go. They are life savers!

On the way home a man saw our Book of Mormon that we literally always carry rain or shine and stopped us and asked if he could meet with us and learn more about it.  Let's just say Elder Mitchell our DL) got a list full
of miracles. Funny what God can do if you will just get up off the bench.

So Sunday. Wow! Okay. You should know we were planning on having 6 of our friends come to church.  3 of them were supposed to come walking and we were gonna go pick them up. Well then it rained.  Remember about rain in Spain? We were sitting in consejo [council meeting] and heard it start and I just put my face in my hands and wanted to die.  But P, who is one of my favorite humans, offered to bring his girlfriend and take us to all of our investigators and pick them up.  We passed by, and one excuse after another, none of them came. (Except I, who came with C, two of my other favorite humans) but Hermana Cole and I got to sacrament meeting late and sat down pretty discouraged.  D was sitting up on the stand and saw our faces and our lack of investigators and guess what had happened?  It was fast and testimony meeting and D stood up as soon as he could and started talking about missionary work.  Normal. Everyone here knows D loves missionary work.  But then he started talked about Hermana Cole and I, specifically telling the ward how much he loved working with us and all the work he sees us doing.  He looked right at us and told us we were incredible missionaries and that it was a privilege to work with us.  All during this time different members leaned over and started telling us similar things. My personal favorites where C leaning over and saying, "it's all lies, you aren't that cool" in a nice joking way, “I promise.” P turned back and shook his head and finger at us for laughing. Then M C leaned forward and whispered, " I completely agree with my son for the record."  Both Hermana Cole and I were so touched by that we forgot about the let downs from earlier. This is an incredible ward.

Sunday night we had Elder Mitchell and Yates and D come to our piso and re-dedicate it as a place of learning and where the Spirit could be. It was a really cool experience.  Also it made us clean the piso a ton during the week, so now it's like a whole new place that I love!

That night we met with J. Oh my!  J didn't come to church today and we ended up just getting real with him about his baptism. His mom told us she thought we should push it back again until May.  And I had a pounding headache and could feel myself getting angry.  So we stopped everything and said a prayer.  My headache disappeared and I explained to J that since I have been here, we have been doing that - pushing it back again and again.  And that frankly, I didn't think that was going to help him get his answer.  He needed to really commit personally to look for this answer.  We talked about a lot of different things but in the end, he agreed and we are going to push forward. I was so glad that we listened to the Spirit and that I didn't let my temper get the best of me.

Man the mission is flying by. And I love every second of it. Thanks for encouraging me to come and respecting that it needed to come from me.  I know that if I didn't know God wanted me here, I would have given up a long time ago. But here I am because it's true and the best work on the earth.

Love you,
Hermana Smalley

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