Tuesday, October 11, 2016

We stormed the castle...

October 10, 2016
Dearest family,

What an incredible week it has been here yet again in Spain. I'm so privileged for every minute I get to spend in this beautiful country! Last week we adventured in Ronda, our car got stuck, but with some prayer and a lot of pushing, we managed to get out and back to Malaga safe and sound for proselyting time. Hermana Clark and I got to visit R. She is a cute recent convert, I was actually here at her baptism one year ago, I had to run home and grab my white clothes for her. It was fun to see her and catch up a little. Later that night we got a call from the office to inform us that here were two Hermanas waiting for us to pick them up and take them to our house. SURPRISE! So we went and got Hermana Gibson and Hermana Thielke and we had a party. 

Tuesday morning we had to go to the chapel first thing and clean up a little bit before the new missionaries came in. We got to go to Vialia and pick them all up. It brought back so many memories watching these new missionaries come in. Some of them looking so scared and others looking so excited. I just remember how I felt when I came in, I was terrified and had no idea what to expect! Their faith is incredible and I am so excited for them and this wonderful adventure that they have started. It was strange because they all started asking how long I had been out, it about killed me when I told them 17 months. Their faces were priceless. 

We brought them back to the chapel and started the orientation. I got to talk about companionship unity and I shared with them something Hermana Rocha told me on my. first day.  We were reading in the manual missional and she looked up and said, " if you fall I fall, and I won't fall."  That has stuck with me my whole mission. Remembering that my companion is first priority and I need to do all I can be to be the best for them. I also shared with them something McKay shared with me before I left, about the positive influence they can have on their trainers - that all of their excitement and energy is just what we all need. 

After the trainers came and we got to watch all of the companionships meet for the first time.  It was incredible to know what I know about the trainers, and after having met the new missionaries, realizing how inspired each companionship was. I think Elder Garcia and I might have scared his companion with how many inside jokes that we have, but Elder Erickson doesn't know how lucky he is! We all ate together and then sent them out to contact in different parts of Malaga. 

During that time Hermana Clark and I snuck away to go visit F. When we got there he showed us the tie he had just bought to wear to church.  It was such a tender moment for Hermana Clark and I to talk with him and see how much joy and change the gospel has brought into his life. We then caught on with the new mission spirit and contacted like crazies. We were so excited and forgot for just a moment all the other things we needed to do, and just talked with everyone we could.  After We all met up again at the church and had a small devotional.  We gave the new missionaries time to set goals  and then asked each of them to bear a short testimony.  Each of their humble testimonies touched me. They all talked of why they came out and the duty they felt to give all they had to the Lord.  I know that as they learn to rely on the Lord each of them will see His hand in their work - guiding them and helping them in every aspect of this work. 

After the testimonies we gave them their first paella thanks to Elder Quispe.  It was delicious!  Then Hermana Clark and I snuck away again to go teach G and L one last time. We testified of our Prophet and listened to his conference address. What a privilege.  

Then Wednesday came.  Oh man... it was a rough one. We all got up and then headed to the train station.  I said some goodbyes for the last time to some incredible friends as they got on busses and headed to their new areas.  Then we got to help Hermana Pickett learn how to drive in Spain.  As we were driving around I realized that it was the saddest car ride ever!  Elder Quispe, Hermana Clark and Elder Martin were all going home. We said some awful goodbyes...  Hermana Clark and Elder Quispe both headed to Fuengirola.  I will miss those two so much! They have both taught me so much! But I know they will be incredible in the real world. 

A couple hours later the bus from Alicante came in with my new companion, Hermana Portas! I realized I didn't mention anything about her last week.  She is from Venezuela and absolutely incredible!  Seriously, I have been waiting my whole mission to not get along with a companion.  But I have been spoiled.  She even lived in New Jersey for awhile (Passaic ward, Garfield). More on that later.  I got to say goodbye to my sweet Hermana Gale as she headed to Fuengirola. Ugh, so many hard goodbyes!  En fin.  The ayudantes helped us take suitcases to our piso, and off we went to work. We got to teach English class that night, my companion is incredible at it by the way. Then we got to teach noche de hogar.  So much fun! Some members did a musical number that was beautiful. 

Then weekly planning. Yay. We got to teach S finally and we talked to him about how the Church is a place we go to gain strength so that we can accomplish God's will -  not a place we should avoid if we can't be perfect. He called us on Friday just to tell us how good he felt and how excited he was to come to Church.  And he came!!! It was a miracle and we were so happy to see him! 

Friday I was so excited!  I told Hermana Portas it was going to be my first full day of work in almost two weeks because of all the craziness. Well... I spoke too soon.  During studies we got a call from the ayudantes telling us we needed to do a training in the chapel.  So there went that!  But we did get to teach J!  We read with him in the Book of Mormon and testified how this book would help him more than any other grow closer to God. 

That night we went to C.  She was so sad that Hermana Clark had left. When we got there she grabbed my arm and asked, " Where is my sister?" but we had a wonderful lesson one with her. We also got to teach Jy about the sabbath day. 

Saturday was my first full day of work!! Yahoo!! Literally all of our plans failed and our backups fell through.  So it was the perfect day!  Literally, we were both just so happy and did our best to talk to everyone we could.  There is just so much joy in just doing the small stuff right!  I am so excited to work with Hermana Portas!  She is incredible and keeps me focused and I keep her laughing.  It works well. 

Sunday we took the Sacrament!  We also had a crazy night. We basically didn't get to leave the church all day.  A couple from Europe came down to give leadership advice, so President asked that we go with the APs. I am so glad that he did.  I learned that I have been doing it wrong my whole life!  But hey, He talked about how we don't want to be the source of information, but the facilitator of information.  Giving advice creates dependence and we want to help others help themselves.  I am really excited to apply all he talked about here in the mission, and well, for forever!  The second part of the fireside was on marriage advice.  President asked that we go so we could apply it to companionship unity.  It was pretty funny having all these couples and then in the back, rows and rows of missionaries.  But it was so good!  I learned so much, but mostly it just reinforced that people will always be more important than my opinion, and being right should never be the reason for a fight. 

Today we explored a different part of the castle here in Malaga and got the best ice cream in Spain!  It was pretty good.

Alright I know that I have started my last transfer, but the thing is, it doesn't feel any different.  I'm just going to keep giving all I can, doing the best I know how until the bitter end.  I can't say it enough, that I'm grateful to be here and that the Lord has let me "handle the fine China" even though I'm often clumsy and can't do it exactly right, He helps me and continues to trust me and it is a wonder! 

Not my most inspiring week, but love you all so much! 

Hermana Smalley 

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