Monday, September 9, 2013

First week in Alcobendas!‏

9 September 2013 

Buenos Dias to all my friends and family!!

I hope this email finds you all happy and healthy, getting started with school again, as fall is setting in. WOW the timing in the mission is still very strange. It is weird to me to think that it is September, and I arrived here almost 3 months ago, and I turn 20 in one month. Wow what a surprise it was to be transferred here to Alcobendas, I thought for sure I would stay in my area longer, with my trainer, but the Lord had different plans! Oh but I love it here, goodness gracious, it is just about 40 minutes away from my last area, but it is so different! The city is SO clean, there are trees everywhere, and I think there is a chance that I won’t die from secondhand smoke now. haha It wasn’t that bad in Cuatro Caminos, but I really do love this area. I feel a little more at home, it even smells like Colorado sometimes!

So Hermana Aagard and I arrived here Tuesday, signed papers for our new apartment with the mission office Elders, and found out that we live RIGHT across from them. We can see their apartment across the street from us, and many times throughout the day. It is funny though, there have not been sister missionaries here in 8 years, and all the elders in the area are SO AWKWARD and seem like they want nothing to do with us. haha we are trying to slowly warm them up to talking like normal people. SO these elders found us a really nice apartment, we are so blessed! It had nothing in it though... haha they just moved in a bunch of IKEA boxes full of our bed frame, desks, and chairs, and we have spent every single minute of our free-time building so that we can study on chairs instead of on the floor. We ate off of the cardboard that our desk came in for a few days. Haha. We joke all the time about how we are just like a newly-wed couple, making do with what we have.

I love my new companion! She is about to complete 6 months in the mission and I have so much to learn from her. She is full of fun and I haven’t laughed so much in a long time. Last transfer I felt like a was losing a bit of my personality and ability to have fun, but Hermana Aagard sure reminds me that we can still be ourselves and have fun! I am more of a morning person, she is more of a night person, so it is great! She doesn’t always like it, but she will even go running with me in the morning, and she is so bold and dedicated to this work. She is a contacting machine! We are ready to see miracles raining down. I am lucky to have her. Scratch that! It was not luck; it was a blessing from the Lord!!!

It is definitely difficult; we are at about the same level of Spanish, so it really takes a lot of concentration on both of our parts to understand what others are saying and to be able to communicate ourselves. It is pretty incredible though, because we both had native companions before this, and had quite a few of the same feelings and experiences. And we have really witnessed the Lord’s power to step in, because we both truly have no idea what we are doing here. It has been exhausting, contacting all day, not having all of the materials we need, trying to get our apartment set up, and feeling like the bar is set SO HIGH by all of the office Elders here who have so much time in the mission and know what they are doing. They all seem to think we are silly and needy and do not know what we are doing, so we have kind of had to fend for ourselves. Slowly but surely. We are far from perfect, trying to meet everyone from the ward and find our way around the city (we look so silly walking around with maps all the time!). And we are already exhausted. haha It is already so painful to get out of bed every morning after walking all day!

Our ward is incredible. It has doubled in size in one year. Half of our ward is very recently converted to the gospel, and our ward is one of the highest baptizing wards in Madrid, which is crazy because the Elders are in the office all day until 6, and only proselyte after that. This shows the power of references from members. So many of the members are members because one family was baptized, told their friends, and so on. We feel so welcome in the ward, everyone wants us to come visit and eat at their house. They are excited to have sisters here and we are excited to be here! And talking about tender mercies.... the Bishop speaks English! And so do his two daughters and wife. Interesting fact, our baptisms are held at his house in his pool because the church building does not have a font. Cool huh?! There was a baptism this last Saturday, it was a beautiful experience.

So, all in all, I am convinced that each portion of the mission will be difficult in its own ways. This is still hard, but there is something that is always constant in my life... it is this gospel. Everyone deserves to have this blessing in their life.

Really quick cool story! We were contacting along the street and met a lady who was waiting for an appointment, and had an hour left to go, and we asked if we could teach her a lesson, so we taught her about the restoration right there on the bench. She was so cute, and asked if she could right down the scriptures we shared because she liked them so much. She told us about how she is living in Spain alone, her children are in her country, and her husband deserted her, but she knows she can always feel so close to the Lord. SUCH GREAT FAITH! She closed our lesson with a prayer, thanking the Lord for sending us to her. And she had us both crying, and said afterwards, that whenever she prays she can feel His presence near. Such a neat experience. We meet with her again tomorrow. We are so excited!

Well, that’s all for this week! Have a great week, I feel your prayers, and I love my friends a family! OH and thank you to Jeanne and Mary and Wade for letters, I feel so loved :)

I just remembered something that I wanted to share!! My companion shared this analogy about being on a mission, or really about life in general. We are all very pointy rocks. I happen to know that I am incredibly pointy. In the sense of being on a mission, we are put into this nice little stream that starts to smooth off this pointy parts. Then we are put into the mission field, this very fast-moving river that where it is difficult to take everything in all at once. Sometimes it is so painful to experience all of the changes and hardships and see all of our weaknesses all at once. This applies to people who aren't serving missions too! We all know what these time are like. We feel vulnerable, alone, or just simply inadequate, but these experiences smooth us out and help us draw nearer to our Savior. I think that is a wonderful analogy. I still feel like such a pointy rock, and I can see so many things that need to be smoothed out, but we all have the same goal – we want to be nice and smooth and shiny. All of our rough edges are always smoothed out through Christ’s Atonement.

One more thing!  This is a quote from Elder Jeffery R. Holland in his talk "The First and Greatest Commandment":

"What I need, Peter, are disciples—and I need them forever. I need someone to feed my sheep and save my lambs. I need someone to preach my gospel and defend my faith. I need someone who loves me, truly, truly loves me, and loves what our Father in Heaven has commissioned me to do. Ours is not a feeble message. It is not a fleeting task. It is not hapless; it is not hopeless; it is not to be consigned to the ash heap of history. It is the work of Almighty God, and it is to change the world. So, Peter, for the second and presumably the last time, I am asking you to leave all this and to go teach and testify, labor and serve loyally until the day in which they will do to you exactly what they did to me.”

I think we can insert each of our names where it says "Peter". I try to renew my commitment every day to be this kind of disciple of Christ – someone who truly loves the Lord. I can give up my desires and teach and testify and serve if that is what the Lord asks.

Have a great week, I love you all!

Love, Hermana Emily Mather

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