Hello Family and Friends! Buenos Dias!
Thank you so much for all the of birthday wishes, I felt so loved yesterday!!! Family, the package you sent was so great... it has been funny how much I have learned to appreciate AMERICA here! I miss the candy and I was even happy to just get a simple box of that Mac N Cheese haha. Thank you so much for the photo book, that must have taken a lot of time Mom, I really do appreciate it! I loved the card, all of your little messages were so sweet. I love my family!
Hermana Aagard sure made my birthday special! It was so fun to have both of our birthdays in one week! On her birthday, we did our exercises, then she got in the shower and I made her pancakes and made a little scavenger hunt of pictures for her with 22 reasons why I love her (those were not hard to come up with of course!). She received calls from ward members singing and wishing her a happy birthday. For my birthday she actually did something similar, hehe we think so alike! There was a little trial of 20 reasons why she loves me all over the apartment with everything for the family package all scattered around everywhere. And I had told her that Mom always makes us breakfast in bed, so she made omelets and French toast and we ate it while we sat on the bed and talked and I read birthday letters. I have the best thoughtful companion in the whole world! I hope I can be as sweet and charitable like her someday. I am also convinced that Sunday is the BEST day to have a birthday in the mission field! We had 5 investigators come to church!!! And the ward members sang happy birthday to me in English!! There were lots of hugs and kisses and pictures. I don´t really like being the center of attention... but Hermana Aagard told everyone it was my birthday. I felt so loved though. Haha the Elders from our district bought me non-alcoholic champagne too. So thoughtful of them.
Oh and this man Melvin that will be getting baptized on November 9th… He is incredible. He seemed a bit hesitant last week about his baptismal date, we have been meeting with him every day since we challenged him to baptism, and I can get it out of my mind when he said "estoy decidido" (I am decided) about baptism! He really enjoys coming to church and blends in well with all of the members. He is so humble and simple, but incredibly determined to choose the right path in this life. He is always reading what we leave for him and more, and calls us when he can’t find page number of what we have given him to read in the Book of Mormon. He may not know everything yet (and the truth is, we as missionaries are always learned new things about the gospel everyday too!) but he has received the answer to his prayers that this church is true and he has genuine desires to take Christ´s name upon him. He is an incredible example to us of someone humble and willing to accept teachings of the gospel that will be a little hard for him to live.
Also, I told you earlier about the Morales Family, who knows Rachel Borup’s husband (Elder Johnson baptized their son Marlon). The father of this family is an INCREDIBLE example to us. He has always been a member, but there was a time in his life that he got really dragged down by the things of the world, and was drunk all the time. I still do not even know the whole story, but I can tell you that this gospel has the power to change people. This man now has an incredible testimony and would do anything to have his whole family active in the church now. We love going to visit this family. I feel like they are my second family here in Spain! They actually saw us the other day on the street from their car and started yelling "BICHOS!!!" which means bugs in Spanish, because we are always calling them bichos! We have a great time laughing with them and working with all of them to come to church again. Luis Morales called us the other night and said that when we came to his house that night, we would bring 3 new investigators for us (WHAT! the best gift as a missionary!) and he told us: TRAE LA LUZ! which means bring the light. :) We had a great lesson and we were so grateful for this family willing to share the gospel with their friends. Their lights had been cut, we think because of failure to make ends meet that week, but of course they still feed us incredible Ecuadorian food. They are so generous and loving and just real. I feel so blessed to have crossed paths with all of the incredible people in our ward.
This week our ward also had a "Dia de España" fiesta! There were dances or songs from all of the countries (we have people from Bolivia, Argentina, Columbia, Spain, Ecuador, Peru, the Dominican Republic, our bishop from Germany, and a family from America!) It was really neat. The missionaries all sang the national anthem. I almost cried! I sure do love our country! I love eating all of the food and experiencing the culture out here, but it also makes me realize how much I love my country! I get so excited to cook American food and I am so proud to say I am from America.
Being on a mission is incredible. There are countless ups and downs, the timing is difficult to wrap my head around, and my head is in 1238473894759 places at once. BUT I am constantly reminded what a privilege it is to be here! Learning this language has been quite the humbling adventure but I try not to let it get me down when I don´t understand everything. I have learned an incredible lesson about listening. I can understand more than I can speak this language, but sometimes that is all people need... I have learned really how much people just need us to LISTEN sometimes! I have listened to peoples conversion stories, talk about their families, bear their testimonies, and I am convinced that I was sent here to learn to just learn to LISTEN and LOVE people. I still have a long ways to go but I am learned to talk less about myself but learn more about people and help and serve them. I love it. We have been taught many humbling lessons, but it is so neat to be seeing the "fruits of our labors!” watching the people we have contacted on the street come to church and make friends and accept the gospel. What other time in our lives could we just randomly approach people on the street and talk about God, then invite them to partake freely of something that we make them happy for the rest of eternity?!?! I can´t think of anything better I could be doing right now!
Well, that´s it for now folks. Hasta el proximo lunes, les qiero un monton, y pienso en ustedes a menudo. Oro para ustedes cada dia!! cuidanse!
Con Amor, Hermana Emily Marie Mather
p.s. Oh and President Jackson called us the other night and asked if we would mind having a 3rd companion for a night, we said of course not! She was a visa waiter for her mission in Salt Lake City Utah, and she is from northern Spain, she is so cute! She hasn't even been to the MTC yet, but we had fun talking to her and letting her get a feel for what the mission is like.
|Hermana Aagard and I, some of the children from the Morales Family|
|Ideas for how to mark your scriptures in the cheap copy of the Book of Mormon, here is what mine looks like!!!|
|Car ride to district meeting!|
|Picture of Edna Mode [The Incredibles movie] drawn by Elder Stevens in our district!|
"You are a missionary, PULL YOURSELF TOGETHER!!!
|Some members at Stake Conference|
|The Morales family|
|Eating a Rosa´s house! Yummy Bolivian food!|