Thursday, June 27, 2013

Hola from Spain!!!!

First of all... I got your PACKAGE!!!!!! Yay that was SOOOO EXCITING!!! I have REALLY REALLY REALLY appreciated all of the letters that you all have written. Oh what a highlight for my day. I was having a bit of a down day yesterday, and was a bit discouraged, so that was wonderful!! THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! I plan on scrounging all of my time today to write letters back to the wonderful letters from Mom and Amber and Eliza and Amanda! I really needed it.

The mail seems to take about 7 days to get here.

There is a fire there? It sounds huge... I am so glad you are all okay! Stay safe please.

Anyways... how is everyone?!?!? I miss you all and LOVE the letters and pictures that you sent. Oh also there is an elderly couple here serving in Spain and they have a blog you should look at! It is Hopefully it has videos of us singing on the temple grounds!! We do that every Sunday here, it is so fun. They even bring out the piano. This couple was in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir!

Oh my goodness I can´t believe it has been a week since I have emailed you all! Nathan, I am companions with someone that you know! You served with an Elder Heims, and his sister is MY COMPANION! He said you’re a great cook! haha.

So.... SPAIN! Wow! It was incredible to go to the city last week. What an adventure!! BUT I have to say, as much as I loved seeing Puerto del Sol and the queen’s palace, the highlight of my day was the bus ride back, (I told you the whole story on the postcard that I sent!) but it was so neat to have one of our teachers, even though it was [Preparation] P-day, to help us talk to people on the bus! It was an incredible experience. He wasn't even still on his mission, but was so enthusiastic and happy to share the message of the gospel with her, and he had my companion and I tell her in Spanish what we know about this church and how INCREDIBLY happy it makes us. We spoke in such simple Spanish, but the spirit there was so strong. Just incredible.

So I heard that you all watched the announcement about missionary work! EXCITING!!!!! I was thinking of Wade that whole time and I kept looking for him in the audience!

Before I go, I just wanted to tell you how INCREDIBLE the temple is here. We went for our first time this morning. I think of all the temples I have been to, this one is my favorite. Yes, I know I am a bit biased, but the celestial room is JUST beautiful. It was so bright. I feel so happy in the temple and I am so grateful for the opportunity we have to go once a week here. I feel renewed for the next week. The temple is such a blessing, and I think of the family often there.

Last Saturday, when we proselyted in the park, we switched companions for the day... it was fun! My companion for the day didn't speak much Spanish either, but what a neat experience it is to talk to people with the little Spanish that we do know! Ha-ha, we have come so far, but I feel like I have so far to go! We had an amazing experience that day though, we met the nicest old lady that wanted us to sit by her on the park bench, and we talked to her for a long time. She was so sweet and patient with us and knew a tiny bit of English which was nice. She was patient as we spoke broken Spanish very slowly. But, we came to find out that she has breast cancer and is going through chemo treatments. She loved reading the passages of the Book of Mormon that we showed to her, and said that those words were beautiful. We wanted to just say everything that we could in English to help her, like how this church has blessed out lives so much, and we know that it can help her through this hard time,. I wanted to tell her that Christ came to the Earth to atone not only for our sins, but also for our weaknesses and infirmities and sorrows. It was so hard not to say those things, but I think we planted a seed in her that day. I have a testimony of seed-planting now, and having the faith to be the missionary that plants the seed rather than picking the fruit. She seemed like such a golden opportunity to share the gospel with, and she wasn't quite ready to accept it. She kept saying that it just wasn't her time. It was so hard not to share everything with her, but I know she has a special place in heaven.

Sorry, that is most of what I have time for this week. What else do you want to know? I wish I had an entire day to email you all, but then I still probably wouldn't be able to say all that I want to and ask you all about home. Just know that I love you, and I should be sending letters in the mail soon! Please keep sending snail mail!!! It is like holding precious gold in my hands!

I Luff Yew!

Love, Hermana Mather

My MTC companion Hermana Heims

Hermanas Fowers, Heims, me, and Nydegger with the Madrid temple in the background

This is our MTC district!!
Elders Franklyn, Dunn, Holt, and Benton. Hermanas Fowers, Heims, me, and Nydegger!
I knew Sister Nydegger at BYU.

Madrid temple and city skyline (looking to the southwest from MTC window)

Madrid skyline (looking to the northwest from MTC window)

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Mi Familia!!

Hola Family!!!

Oh my goodness one hour on the computer is not enough to talk to all of you!! I miss you all so much and there is so much to tell you! Every night I am sure to write pretty lengthy journal entries so that I remember what to write to you. I don´t want to forget anything. I lay awake at night thinking about all that I need to tell you! All of you were in my thoughts and prayers an extra amount yesterday because I knew you were at Wades setting apart and sending him off. I sure can´t wait to hear more about that, and Dad, I would love to hear that poem. Holy cow I feel so loved getting all of your emails from home. Thank you to Mom and Dad and Wade and Amber for writing me. And Mom, thank you for your letter. I received it yesterday. It completely made my day! That is so funny about the lemon and chipotle burrito reminding you of me!!!

So, first of all, the MTC [Missionary Training Center] is amazing (we call it the CCM [Centro de Capacitación Misional] in Española). Oh my goodness it is a roller coaster ride here! We were so right when we compared my mission to a roller coaster ride. I felt a peace and confidence as I flew to Provo and entered the MTC. I felt SO MUCH LOVE as I read each of your letters on the airplane. Thank you!! And the spirit is so strong here! Jetlag was a little bit rough, I was thrown off 8 hours, but all 50 of us missionaries here at the MTC jumped right in to learning in church and Spanish classes! This roller coaster ride has been going for about a week, and each day feels like at least two days, it is so funny how time works. I feel like it has been a month since I left home. That is okay though, I am so grateful for this opportunity. I have felt some of my lowest lows and some of my greatest spiritual highs here. I was not prepared to feel so discouraged with all that I need to learn. Most of our teachers here are natives and they began speaking Spanish right away! AH! I found myself wishing I had learned more in high school. I have a long ways to go with learning the language! I just have to keep telling myself that we have only been here a week and we have already come so far!!! I feel like learning the language and learning to teach the gospel is like standing at the bottom of those 14ers that we love to hike. It is so intimidating, but exhilarating at the same time! And I have so many people to help me along the way; the most important of those, of course, is the Lord. Learning Spanish is such a lesson in humility, and sometimes I am not sure how to cope, but the only person that really understands is Christ. I have felt my prayers become more sincere and heartfelt, as I am not sure how to learn a language, step out of my comfort zone to teach people, and serve others with my calling as a Sister Training Leader. But Christ humbles me just enough to give me more confidence and security, not in myself, but in Him. Through Him I know that I can do anything! Humility is a blessing! The strength and power that I have comes from above, and humility shows me this.

There are some truly amazing people here at the MTC. Our Mission President speaks like Thomas S. Monson, and I feel such peace and joy when he speaks. Many of our teachers are from Spain, and English is their second language, but they have such sweet spirits. Most of them are converts to the church and I love to hear their conversion stories. It strengthens my testimony that this is all real. We can touch people out here and change their lives. We have a message that can make people so happy. Our teachers and leaders here at the MTC are awesome at lifting our spirits after a long discouraging day of learning a language at the MTC. Also, I wanted to tell you about one of the elders there that is really truly inspiring to me. His name is Elder Bobosko and he is from Ukraine, and he is here learning Russian for his mission. He doesn´t understand any of us! He can only communicate with his translator, and I can´t even imagine how hard that is! I think about what a hard time he must have, being around all of us, attending meetings in English, and needing a translator all the time, but I ALWAYS see him smiling. He is so inspiring to me and being around him reminds me that I should be happy! He spoke on Sunday about how sometimes we do not notice our own progress. He told a story of bamboo, and how once it is planted, for the first 4 years nothing seems to be happening, there is no bamboo shoot. BUT in the 5th years, it grows 12 meters! Sometimes in our lives, we do not see the fruits of all of our hard work. It can become so discouraging. But those 4 years are the most important part. We are building our foundation, and then we can see exponential growth.

Sundays are heaven here at the MTC, because we have a break to be solely spiritually uplifted, and it is just nice to have a break from thinking about Spanish words all day. Elder Reina, an Area Seventy came to speak to us, and he gave some amazing thoughts I would like to share with you. First, that we are all witnesses of Christ, and that we all need to touch His hands, one by one, like it says in 3 Nephi 11. He wants us to come unto Him, to know Him. We have these spiritual experiences with prayer. Then we can bring others to experience this happiness. Second, that when we are exactly obedient, we should EXPECT miracles. We embark on long, hard journeys in our lives, but fear is the worst enemy of the Lord. I need to be bold as a missionary of the Lord!

So on Saturday we already went proselyting in the park, after learning Spanish for 3 days! Yikes! Ha ha!  I don´t know if I have ever done something so scary in my life. We set goals of how many people to talk to and how many references to get. I was so neat to experience talking to beautiful people in the beautiful city of Madrid. Even though we did not speak Spanish very well, we still gave out a couple of copies of the Book of Mormon and took people´s names down because they wanted to learn more! How exciting! Most of all, I learned that the people here in Spain are so kind and loving, and willing to talk to most anyone. I love that. People have such individuality, and can be blessed by the gospel individually as well.

Also, my companion and I are already expected to teach two "investigators" solely in Spanish! Crazy! Our first lesson with an investigator went terribly wrong. We were SO CONFUSED what she was saying and we could not stop laughing at how funny it was that we were so confused! Ha ha ha. We had a very long laugh attack and soon our investigator started laughing too!  Haha. Oh, I was so embarrassed. We couldn´t even stop laughing during the prayer. I am glad to say that all of our lessons have been better since then. It has actually been so fun, because we are starting to understand about 80% of what people are saying, and we can speak probably about 10% of what we would like to. It is so frustrating knowing what I want to say and share with people or investigators, but I do not know how to say it yet! I cannot wait for the day that it just comes and I can speak to any person without a problem. That will be a wonderful day. But for now, we just have to write out our entire lessons in Spanish and do all that we can without reading the paper. It is an adventure! Even though they aren´t real investigators, It is so exciting when they say that they will read the Book of Mormon, or when we can see them understanding what we are saying as we tell them that we KNOW these things are true!

Soooo you guys asked about the food and what not! We have actually been eating a lot of seafood!  There is tuna or shrimp or fish of some sort in at least one meal a day. Most of the food si quite delicious! But that is just the MTC I don´t know what the city is like. For PDAY today we are actually going to the city (El Sol) or the center of Madrid. We are so excited to explore, because we haven’t really been to the city yet! I will be sending pictures next week of our adventures!  The temple right outside our window is BEAUTIFUL! Sadly, it has been closed for the past week and will be for the next week, but we get to go on a tour and do a session next Thursday! So I will let you know how that went!

Again, thank you so much for writing me. I am so sad that I can´t tell you EVERY little thing. I had so much planned to tell you but my time is running short.

Please keep sending letters and emails (it is very hard because I feel like I don´t have much time to read emails, so letters would be fantastic! I LOVE YOU ALL SO MUCH! Sorry that I cannot reply individually always to all of you. Just know that the emails and letters are like GOLD to me here on my mission. I am going to try and see if my pictures upload! Hasta Luego... I will talk to you next week and look forward to hearing from you. Ü  Haha! I just figured out how to do a smiley on these weird keyboards. I love you my family!!!

Love, Hermana Mather

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Hola from Espana!


This is going to be a short email, I do not have much time. I just have enough time to say hi and that I love you, and I am safe. I am in Madrid can you believe it? Jetlag is fun, I am 8 hours ahead and I feel like a should be sleeping right now but it is so great! I feel so blessed becuase I was so nervous to say goodbye to family and leave so much behind. It can still be hard, but I have felt so comforted. It is amazing!n Ever since I walked into the MTC I have felt at peace. Wade, YOU ARE GOING TO LOVE IT! Even though I was only there for one night, and everyone was looking at us funny becuase we arrive on a day that wasn´t normal and even though we didn´t have nametags, there is such a spirit there, and you will meet some incredible people. I am so excited for you!  My night at Provo was interesting, I´m sure your wexperience will be MUY MUY diferente. Haha. We felt like no on eknew we were there, and we didn´t have a schedule just because it was so last minute. But the spirit was so strong, and the people are so kind and welcoming! I can just picture you there and I love it! I was sad to leave Provo! So we met with the Spain consulat and he gave us our visas and told us about Spain! We were able to walk around, eat and go to bed becuase we ahd to wake up early. June 11 I woke up at 5 am and our journey began. It was an adventure of packing up and getting on a bus, then the frontrunner, then the trax system, and to teh airport where we waited for a couple of hours, flew to new york, and then to Madrid! all of my days are mushed together and I am just glad I know which way is up right now. Haha.

Holy cow Wade. I love what you said about me seeming confident and you felt like I was ready to go at that point at security. That is the point in the airport that I felt a strength that was not my own. I felt at peace and ready to go, with confidence that the Lord would give me more strength once I could take that leap of faith! Thank you for telling me that!

The flights were long and I didn´t even feel nervous on them! What a tender mercy. Also, on the way to Spain, I sat next to a guy that didn´t speak English very well and we spoke in spanglish for 2 horas. Haha! We was asking about religion and telling me his opinion and I wanted to badly to share my testimony so badly, but I am not sure hwo it came out. I can´t wait to speak clearly. Speaking of sharing the gospel, we will already be going proselyting on Saturday in the park! I love it here! It is so personable and very small. The mission president has a voice like president Monson. If I close my eyes I feel like I am in general conference. I love it.

I did see Elder Stolk and a few other friends, but Elder Stolk is no longer at the MTC, he is in the field!

Wade, I wish I had more time, but I am so excited to hear about your setting apart and everything! My love for the family grows while I am away and I know they will be blessed for our service.

I loved reading your notes in my transfer journal, thank you for the kind words of encouragement. I really wish I had more time right now to tell you how much it meant to me and write notes to each of you personally :) I will try, but if not today, my Preparation Day is every thursday so I can next thursday. Which means this is the last time I will send an email to Wade before he is a missionary! I can´t wait to hear about the setting apart, and the MTC. I love you all so much! there are more pictures and stories to come next week! I wish I could tell you more, but just know that I appreciate all of the sacrifices that you have made and I love you so much. I look forward to hearing from you next Thursday!

I Love you!!!!!


Hermana Mather

p.s. My companion, Hermana Heims and I are so similar, I love her! And we were just called as Sister Training Leaders today!

p.p.s. sorry the grammar si bad, these keyboards are weird!


Monday, June 3, 2013

Farewell Talk

I am Emily Mather. I have heard it said that we as individuals are the sum total of what we have seen, heard, said, and done in our lives. Thanks to many teachers, leaders, and family members, I have seen so many people serve me and my family, and I have heard countless testimonies that make me who I am today.  I am so grateful for the family, friends, and leaders that have taught me high standards and pointed me in the right direction so many times as I have grown up.

As many of you may know, I attended Brigham Young University in Provo this past year (2012-2013) studying nursing, and I have been home for about a month now. In October, when the announcement was made that girls could now serve missions at age 19 instead of 21, I didn’t think much of it as far as I was concerned. But eventually, everything in my life seemed to point me towards a mission as I felt like something was missing in  my life; I knew school was where I needed to be at that time, but I also  felt like the Lord had more in store for me. I wanted to make sure that I was choosing this for the right reasons.

My mind began to open up to the idea that I was needed elsewhere; Heavenly Father needed me to join the work of spreading the happiness that the gospel brings to those that have been prepared for me personally. Eventually, I finally made the decision to serve after many prayers. I asked the Lord what He would have me do at this time. When I received the answer that I should serve a mission, it was then that I realized how scary that could be! Away from my family, anywhere around the world, spending 24/7 with a companion that I know nothing about, learning a new language, where my goal is to talk to everyone and teach about our church. But I received this answer in my heart, and I knew the importance of obedience. I love what our prophet President Monson said about obedience in this past April General Conference:

            There is no need for you or for me, in this enlightened age when the fullness of the gospel has been restored, to sail uncharted seas or to travel unmarked roads in search of truth. A loving Heavenly Father has plotted our course and provided an unfailing guide – even obedience

At first I felt that I was taking a step into the dark, asking the Lord to lead me where He would have me go. Actually, I still feel that way sometimes! But I do know that as I, like any of us, choose to trust the Lord and trust that He will give me more light and knowledge as I obey, I am blessed with more light and direction in my life. Initially, I found myself thinking of all of the reasons that I should not serve a mission. It was such a long time away from my family, I would graduate later, and so on.

BUT as soon as I decided to open up to the idea and turn my will over to the Lord, my prayers become more sincere, and I felt guided.  I realized that my Savior has experienced my confusion and sadness, and He constantly asks me to simply obey, and as I do, I am changed for the better as I follow the course he has plotted for me. The trials and decisions in my life are not random or coincidental – they have been designed for me to grow and learn how to make the right choices.

With this time at home without assignments due and tests to take, has given me more time to think about the call I have received to serve a mission and how obedience will play a role. I have many questions, concerns, and exciting thoughts running through my mind at any given time! It is hard to know how to feel emotionally as I prepare to dedicate 1 ½ years of my life in service of the Lord. The question that constantly comes to my mind is: What kind of missionary do I want to be? Growing up, I have seen so many missionaries come home more mature, and humble – they glowed as they spoke.  I loved hearing stories about the impact they’d had on people’s lives as they taught he gospel and brought families closer together. I thought that missionaries simply came home like this – that everyone did. But I am realizing how wrong I was!

I have come to realize that I will get out of my mission what I put into it. I have the choice what kind of missionary I want to be, and in turn the person I want to become after my mission and from then on in my life. I read an incredible talk from a mission president to his missionaries called “The Fourth Missionary” and it goes into depth about the characteristics and consequences of different types of missionaries. This article takes the concept of obedience one step further, comparing the two missionaries, both of which strive to become better, are obedient, and serve faithfully, but one of the missionaries does something that makes all the difference in his mission. He fully surrenders his will to the Lord.

As someone set apart to represent the Lord, it is my goal to strive to be obedient to God’s commandments and to obey the mission rules, but I want to make it a goal to take that one step further. I will not simply do what the Lord wants me to do because he wants me to do it, although that is a commendable thing to do, I want to be obedient so that my nature and character will be changed. When we slowly strive the change our nature in increments, we will not have any desire to do anything contrary to what Heavenly Father would have us do.

I love what the author of this letter wrote, he says: “ The purpose and central blessing of this life is change. It is to be changed to become more like Jesus Christ. It is to incorporate into your character, the qualities of His character. This process of change, this process of becoming, is the object of the gospel.”

This quote has powerful meaning that I had never thought about before. As I strive to obey with full purpose of heart, I will change. As a missionary, I will be teaching others the importance of coming unto Christ and letting him mold them. I cannot teach others the concept of changing, becoming, and evolving unless I am willing to do the same.  I need to constantly come unto Christ myself, and seek his will in my life. This way, I can testify to others of the change it can make in their lives.

This applies to so many areas in our lives! It does not just apply to me while I am preparing to preach the gospel. This is the “object of the gospel”. So, I challenge you to make a conscious effort to be obedient, but do not stop there. You may change your behavior to live the way the Lord would have you live, but do not stop there either.  Focus on BECOMING and CHANGING. Take the attributes of Christ for your own, and illuminate your life and the lives of others as you align your will with God’s will. Your light of Christ will become brighter and brighter as you obey because you will discard some of your old characteristics and take on Christ’s. I challenge you to do this with me.

This concept of changing goes hand in hand with the single greatest expression of love that the world has ever witnessed. This is the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Because he came and suffered for our personal sins and weaknesses, there is nothing in this life that he has not experienced firsthand. He has seen and experienced it all, and He knows that as we obey the Lord, life will be easier in the end. But we cannot do this by ourselves.  Rather than taking “be the best you can be” as a motto for our lives, we should listen to Christ when he says “Let me make you all that you can be”. Christ can only do this when we come to Him with real intent to do what he asks with full purpose of heart. By letting Christ change us, we are showing our love and acceptance of His sacrifice for us.

The scripture that I chose for the theme of my mission is Romans 8:38-39. This scripture has helped me understand how the atonement applies to my life. It says “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord

I believe that God has given us the gift of obedience because he loves us.  I believe that God gave us Christ so that we could be saved from our sins, and so that you and I could draw upon his strength in difficult times. Nothing out of our power can separate us from this love found through the Atonement of Christ. As long as we are obedient, and come to the Lord with whole purpose of heart, we can find this love in our lives. What an incredible blessing. The Lord is always ready and willing to show us His path, but we need to LET Him change our nature. We must be willing. We need our hearts, minds, and actions to be one in purpose – all aligned so that the Lord can sense our sincerity and change us.

There have been times in my life that I have prayed to seek the Lord’s direction, but I was not ready to fully surrender my will. I think that we have all possibly reached a point in our lives when our prayers consist of all the things we want to the Lord to bless us with and we speedily close with “thy will be done.” But I testify to you that as we do the simple tasks the Lord has asked of us: praying sincerely, reading scriptures, serving others – that we will feel the spirit work within us to align our will more with the Lord’s. I saw this as I prayed about going on the mission. I was holding back at first as if saying “Lord, I don’t really want to do this, but I will if you REALLY want me to, I can” And once I found myself more exactly obedient and sincere, my prayers consisted more of “Lord, what would you have me do? Where would you have me go?”

I love this last quote from the article I read. It says: “surrender your will to Him unconditionally. Withhold nothing. Turn it all over to Him, all of your desires, wishes, and hopes” This is the missionary I want to be and the person I hope to continue developing for the rest of my life! I am only beginning to realize how important the desires of my heart are. I am committing to myself now that I will strive to align my will with the Lord’s will. I will completely surrender my wishes, hopes, dreams, time, talents, thoughts, and actions to Him that I might be able to touch those that the Lord puts into my path. I know that none of my days will be perfect, but I do know that as long as I do my best and strive to keep my heart in the right place, I will be able to have success in bringing others the happiness of this gospel and I will be changed as I learn to change others. 

I want to extend another challenge to you, to do this same thing with me. Think of some way in your life that you can maybe think less of what you want to do or what you think you should do, and think more about what the Lord would have you do. Pray about it! Pray for strength and acceptance for the answers you might receive. We have been promised that if we choose to obey and constantly direct the desires of our hearts toward Christ, that we will in turn receive His attributes. By obedience and real intent, life in the long run is easier and we will be able to live with our Heavenly Father and our families for eternity.

It is my testimony that God loves us. Because he loves us he has provided a guide that we may return to Him. He has given us His son. I know that I am not perfect, and I know that I am nothing by myself – I am weak. But with God’s strength I can become the woman that He intended me to be.  I know that Christ’s atonement is real, and that He knows me. He has felt my sorrow, guilt, pain, happiness, and he can certainly make me a better person.  All he requires of me is my heart. I will always make mistakes, but as I continue to build a relationship with Christ, I will trust His will and I can be changed. I can testify that obedience is a door that opens SO many other doors! When we obey, we are following the Lord’s path, and find a source of POWER. The Lord is on our side when we faithfully obey, and we will discover the blessings he has in store for us. We can partake of the blessings of the atonement as we show the Lord our willingness to repent and obey. I know that happiness comes in this gospel as we obey, because the Lord can bless us when we do so.  I cannot WAIT to share this happiness with the people in Madrid, Spain!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Called to Serve

What a unique opportunity I had to open my mission call the same time that my brother Wade opened his!! We both waited a couple of days after receiving our envelopes in the mail so that we could open them together. After an intense game of rock-paper-scissors, I opened my call first - overcome with emotion and peace. I have been called to serve in the Spain Madrid Mission! Wade opened his right after I did. He has been called to serve in the California Carlsbad Mission! I feel so blessed to  be in the mission field at the same time as Wade. He has been an incredible example to me of diligence and dedication. You will be an amazing missionary Wade :) 
I waited inside my apartment, looking out the window for the mailman.  After what felt like forever, my call the serve a mission was finally delivered. The poor mailman at BYU was bombarded by crazy BYU students waiting for their mission calls!