Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The week they didn't let us sleep

April 18, 2016
Dear family,

Wow!  Where do I even start with this week... It's crazy how quickly things are passing. Seriously it seems the more I don't want time to go so quickly, the quicker it passes.

Tuesday morning we woke up early, you will see that this is a pattern, and met the elders at the chapel to play some football.
So I can officially say that water polo has payed off for me! I finally was able to nail the perfect spiral something that before water polo was a joke. But hey, life goals. After that we headed to Cadiz again for district meeting I gave a taller (lesson) on how to use the lessons to help prepare people for baptism.  Seems obvious right? But sometimes we get so caught up in just teaching the lessons that we forget there is a purpose behind it. Then we went to Jerez for intercambios [campanion exchanges]. I realized that is why the week went by so quickly. intercambios steal all the time from the week.

So we got there starving, and the cute Hermanas gave us some food. But Hermana Cole and I looked at each other and laughed because we were still starving.  After eating the poor Hermanas out of house and home we were finally full. I had a super fun night working with Hermana Merrill. She has been my SHE for the majority of my mission, so I love her to pieces. We got back to piso before the other Hermanas and the other Hermanas had the keys.  Well, we had 3 doors in the way of us and bed. I managed to get us past the first 2 doors, but the actual piso door was credit card proof.  So there we were standing outside the door and I turned to Hermana Merrill and asked her if she had been on the roof. She hadn't, so up 12 floors we went. We get there and the doors are locked, but there was a window open. Out we climbed. And we had a party in the rain on the roof. I love Hermana Merrill.

The next morning we got up really early, to go to play soccer with the elders. It was pretty fun but we were all kinda
half asleep. Then I worked the morning with Hermana Watson. I love Hermana Watson, even though I don't know her that well, I was able to just talk to her and tell her how I've been feeling. I honestly recently have just hit a wall, a huge burnout wall.  I honestly don't think I have ever felt this tired mentally, emotionally, and physically. I was expressing my concerns to her and she just pointed out how my love for the work hadn't changed.  The efforts I was giving hadn’t either, it was just my attitude. It has been hard on me just because my whole mission I have never really lacked animo. But I'm coming up a little dry recently. But I will keep going because frankly, it's not about me. Nothing about this mission is about me.

This week I had a pretty interesting experience with one of our investigators. We have been working with him to be baptized at the end of this month and it has been a journey, but things are looking up. We were teaching him again on the importance of real sincere prayer. He is looking for more purpose and direction in his life, and we have testified again and again how the gospel can bring that. But this particular night, we were teaching how prayer can do that. I was explaining to him that there is no better way to start the day than telling your Heavenly Father what you hope to accomplish that day and then at the end, asking His help to accomplish it. Then I told him that at the end of the day there is no better way to end the day than to tell God, ‘well, this is what actually happened today, this is how I saw your hand, and thank you for your help. I will be better tomorrow’. That that is how we can find purpose in every day, that is how we can from a relationship with Him.  The most interesting experience  was the Spirit prompted me to share that with him.  I felt the gentle reprimand come into my heart that was coming from my own lips!  I realized that I had been panicking because the days seemed to be slipping away, and feeling as if I was
losing direction.  And because of that I pulled more into myself, relying on what I know to do. And my own prayers had been slipping.  I know that through prayer we can make every day count, every hour of this precious time can matter if we include Him because it is His work after all.

I am so grateful for a Father who is willing to correct me and help me be better, and at the same time,help these people whom I love progress and move forward.

Wednesday I sat down with our American friend S. He helped me finally figure out this whole nightmare that has been customs fighting. He helped me work it all out and then we headed downstairs for a noche de Hogar. All the JAS came and we played basketball.  Alright, here is the sad part. Basketball in Spain is.... Sad. No such thing as traveling or bringing it back out when playing half court. It was actually so so fun though, all of us just went crazy. Hermana Cole almost killed V, and C kept giving me the ball for outside water polo shots. Most importantly our investigator J had a really good time.

Thursday we woke up early and played basketball again with the elders then had a pretty great weekly planning session. That night we had a noche de Hogar with another member.  We went with the message, but turned out she had the message planned, so we got to just be there and be with them and love them.  After we finally got to teach M again!  He basically told us that his life is going nowhere and that if we told him he needed Jesus, he would believe us. So we told him he needed Jesus.

Then we went to the train station to pick up the Hermanas from Cadiz and they stayed with us that night. Hermana Anderson had to get on the morning train, so we got up at 5 and walked her there. And we got to keep cute Hermana Sanchez with us all day.  
We met with G again in the morning. He had kept all his commitments and told us he was feeling a lot of peace about it. Our bishop was there with us in that lesson. Compared to the last lesson, he has changed completely. At the end of the lesson Bishop told me he was going to call president and tell him not to transfer me because he needed me here.  It made me feel pretty good.  Also made me want to die, because everyone knows that I'm leaving.  I hope not.  
Anyway, that night was super interesting. So we were supposed to put Hermana Sanchez on a train back to Cadiz and when we got to the train station the machine ate her card!  So she missed the train. We made a phone call to D. He told us not to worry that he would be there asap with a car. He was already in Cadiz at institute, but he dropped everything and showed up with some other JAS and brought us to the train station to pick up the other Hermanas then brought them to their apartment. Everyone was settled then D and friends looked in the back seat and saw us sitting there and said, “What do we do with them?”  Answer,  At 11 pm you had two very lost Hermanas sitting in the chapel in Cadiz for a quick car change and D gave us dinner then drove us home. Shout out to the best ward mission leader ever!   It was the very first time that Hermana Cole had been late getting home, but we both collapsed dead in bed.

Saturday, the elders wanted to wake up early, but we shut that down pretty quickly.   We had a lesson with Iris at the chapel.  We had E come with us and it was a really powerful lesson.  But during the lesson we see a bunch of our JAS walk past the window laughing and making faces at us and then V walked by with D cradled in his arms. They walked past again and distracted E, and I, twice from what I was saying.  I called D later and yelled at him, just a little, about it and he said, “Hermana, wait, wait, wait!  I sprained my ankle and couldn't walk.”  I felt pretty sheepish later.  Poor D, can't walk for a week.  Anyway, we finally got to teach R again without V being there, and really just have a heart to heart.  It was nice - she is such an incredible lady! I really could talk to her all day.

Sunday taking the sacrament, as always, was a highlight. Sunday night, literally no one was home. Or on the street. I think they were all having a party together somewhere and we just weren't invited, but we
kept going and working and made it through the night. We love this work and somehow, we kept smiles on our faces the whole night.

This morning we woke up early to pick up Hermana Merrill from the train station. She came with us and we played soccer in Cadiz. It was super fun!

I love you all so much :)

Love Hermana Smalley

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