Monday, October 28, 2013

I love being a missionary!!‏

28 October 2013

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!!!

Stake Conference

Some members at Stake Conference

The Morales family

Birthday package

Eating a Rosa´s house! Yummy Bolivian food!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Fastest Week Ever!!‏

21 October 2013

My beautiful family,

I love holding your letters in my hands knowing they had been in yours day a few days before! I will be writing back next week! And I have received your package! I made Sister Aagard open it and peak to make sure there wasn't anything I needed to open right away. I just used the wallet since I have needed one. THANK YOU I AM SO EXCITED TO OPEN IT! Wow and I have a new little family member. How cute!

So for news this week! I feel like this has been one of the fastest weeks of my mission, and I think it is true that time flies when you are working. After a rough, disappointing week last week, we had the most lessons we have ever taught in one week. We had a little miracle happen... we found a man on a bench in a park where we live last Thursday and have been meeting with him every day this week. His name is Melvin and I sure love him!!! He is in his late 30's, from the Dominican republic, and is the first person we have ever taught that takes the little pamphlets that we had out after we teach, then he goes home and reads all the scriptures and takes notes about them in addition to what we assign him to read! We already invited him to baptism, and he has accepted to be baptized on the 9th of November (how cool is that Wade... we have a baptism on the same day!!!!!) He already came to stake conference here (which was really, really neat... all about missionary work) and loved it. They say that it takes people about 7 contacts with the church to become converted. When we first met Him, we were counted all of the times he told us he had come in contact with missionaries or with the church in his life. We feel so blessed to have crossed paths with this man. He told us his worries about not being smart enough or rich enough to go to church, but I loved Elder Uchdorf’s talk in conference about how everyone has their own talents to add. This man is incredible, and he has so much potential that he cannot even see! We are so excited for him to take this step in his life.

Oh I also got a letter from Neva Nardone! THANK YOU!! I am so excited to make that friendship bread and use your advice! I want to hear more mission stories from her :) what a nice surprise! Along with the ward Halloween package! What a wonderful surprise as well :) I am really learning to appreciate America as I have been away. I love Halloween and it was nice to get some candy corn and googly eyes still for the holidays. What a perfect spooky package! Thank you! (from Sister Ackley?!?)

We also have another lady, Rocio, from Spain that I told you about, she s progressing very fast as well, we just need to get her to church, which is hard because her father has cancer and she is always taking care of him on the weekends.

Oh and we teach little English classes for children now, in hopes to teach some of their parents the gospel, this has been fun! I miss little children so much! I love doing service here!

I don´t think a prophet could say it better. Thank you... family and friends for everything. The mission is not easy. We missionaries have hard days and I constantly feel like I am not cut out for this! But I feel your love and prayers! Thank you for all that you do! More to come next week! And I will be better about writing letters.

Love, Hermana Mather

Breathe Out Fear, Breathe in Faith

14 October 2013

Hey Goobers!!

Tell me how this letter finds you...happy?  healthy?  Probably tired as usual.  No surprise there.  I sure love that you make time to write me.  I am just not really ever sure what to write back any more, because I feel like a mission is almost like something you just have to experience to understand what it is like.  Ha, my body feels like it has aged 10 years since being here, and it hurts to get up every morning.  It makes me a little bit worried.  I haven't napped for my 2 hour Sunday naps in two months, I feel un-put together all the time, but I feel so happy.  It is hard to describe!  I love feeling the love that Christ has for people and looking for warys to serve people all the time.  I love learning the doctrine so deeply, well enough to be able to teach it in Spanish to people (that is a crazy experience).  I love the Book of Mormon!  I sound like crazy person... but I look back at how I was before, and how some days I would forget to pray, or I would spend weeks without reading the scriptures, but I am realizing how incredibly important it is here!  I used to just fall asleep during General Conference all the time (their voices are still so soothing ;^) ) but how it makes me sad just thinking about missing the prophet's words.  I never realized how many doubts I had before the mission, and how much more there is to know.  But now, it is one of my favorite things to just sit and read and just soak in the words of the Liahona.  AH I love it! I love reading the Book of Mormon!  Will you please read it with me as a family?

I know I sounds like a crazy person ; ^ ) dont' worry I am just a little crazy.  I was talking to my companion the other day and we said we should write a book about everything the mission is that no one warned us about, ha.  How you really never look like all of these really put together missionaries on the websites.  Or, how sometimes members feed you so much that you just about puke.  But most of all how the mission is so awkward all the time.  It really is a bunch of awkward and spiritual experiences tossed together.  It is quite amusing, and you get used to the awkwardness.  I love this quote that Hermana Aagard found the other day though: "When we act in faith in Jesus to do His work, He goes with us and blesses us to say just what they need to hear.  What we actually say and actually do may feel a little (or a lot) awkward or not very polished... but the Savior takes our words and actions and He carries them through His spirit to the hearts of the people.  He takes our sincere but imperfect effort and turns into something that is just right, indeed into something that is PERFECT."  Kim B. Clark

Isn't that wonderful?  I don't know about you but my efforts to serve people and teach people sure feel awkward and unpolished sometimes.  I sure feel uncomfortable and awkward learning this language.  But the Lord makes up for that ; ^ ).

I love you all... Goobers!

Besos (kisses),


Hermana Mather

I just wanted to show you my favorite pass-along card!  "Faith Brings Hope"  ;^)

Me and my companion, Sister Aagard!

WOW!  Yummy enchiladas!

Buenas Dias!!!‏

7 October 2013

Well hullo theeere family and friends!!

Can I tell you HOW HAPPY I feel when I open up my email and see lots of emails from my favorite people in the whole wide world?? And letters!! I feel so loved and so supported and I would love to send you all personal hugs and kisses right along with letters (I sure hope you know that if you have received a letter from me, I personally kiss each letter I send!!!) I hope that this email suffices for now. I tell myself every p-day ´´I will have time to write lots of letters, especially a long one for my family´´ and we end up being so busy!!! I blink and P-day is over, so I hope you all understand.

First of all, Family, I was hoping to send you a big letter this week... looks like that is not going to happen... I was going to write it on the bus ride to president´s house today (we had a sister activity there with 45 sisters... crazy fun!) but the bus ride ended up being 5 minutes and I got 2 sentences done. Soooo hopefully I will finish that next week, but I wanted to add my words to the letter that Wade sent to all of us, but I believe it was TRULY inspired what we both asked the family to do... buy cheap copies of the Book of Mormon and READ TOGETHER as a FAMILY!! Will you please do this? I could not believe what I read in Wade´s letter to us all, because I had been praying so hard to know how to help the family back home, and this is what I came up with to. I couldn't believe it when Wade’s letter came and he said everything that I had been thinking I wanted to tell the family, so basically I second everything that He said. I know that the power of prayer is real. I know that our family can grow closer together if we do this. Will you read the Book of Mormon with me? There is nothing more powerful than sharing your testimonies together my dear family. I listened to conference thinking so much of our family and went through and highlighted what stood out to me. Here are a few:

"Our lives will be infinitely more blessed as we read the scriptures"

"We gather together at conference to hear the words of the Lord, and return back home to live them"

How do we strengthen our family? We keep our covenants and use the POWER of the priesthood. Strengthen the home with it!

Anyways, just know that I know you are all so busy, but I know that, although it seems so simple, truly diligent daily scripture study and prayer is soooo important. I know our family can grow so much closer together as we do this :)

Sooooo it has been a great week! I got a bit of a cold… which was hard. Being sick on the mission is the pits. I am feeling better now, but I sure do not like feeling unmotivated or tired. Being on the mission is the BEST if you are WORKING HARD. I have learned that. It was interesting because we went to an incredible zone conference this week, very, very spiritually uplifting and I felt like it was just what I needed. Really, I wondered if someone had been reading my mind. In all reality, the Lord just knew what I needed to hear, because it was all about not comparing ourselves to others, but to take the things we see in ourselves as weaknesses, then take it to the Lord. We can leave these things at the Lord´s feet. The only person we should really be comparing ourselves to is to our Savior. We re-evaluate everyday what attributes we can change, turn away from the natural man and come unto Christ so that He can change us. I needed that because it is so hard not to compare myself to all of the missionaries I see hear every day we can speak this language and teach lessons and know who they are, and I still feel so inadequate. So it was a great message to help me remember that is so okay that we are so imperfect, because we are just being humbled to carry this perfect message :)

So we really seem to be making some great progress here in Alcobendas! We should be seeing baptisms very soon here, which is very exciting! It has been really wonderful seeing that we have started from ground 0, where our agenda really had nothing in it the first couple of weeks, just contacting every day, to being scheduled full of lessons with growing testimonies of this gospel! We recently started teaching a family, the mom´s name is Nancy; she is from Ecuador. She told us that people had always approached her to talk about religion on the street before and she always refused, but for some reason with us, she accepted. We teach her little boy Jeremy English every time we go over, and she has two other really cute children. Our first lesson with them didn't go over the best, we walked away thinking that we had just ruined our chances with teaching them possibly… But the Lord sure does send us tender mercies. Just when we have hard days and feel like we aren't making a difference here. Our next lesson with them when really well, we felt the spirit very strong, and they are starting to get excited about what we have to teach. It is so cute to hear about their little family reading the Book of Mormon every night.

Also, I know we shouldn't have favorites but we started teaching a little lady from Peru…Our first short little lesson with her we decided to talk about the love of God for us, and how we see that love through his Son Jesus Christ. We asked her who Jesus Christ was to her, and she just started crying and couldn't speak. She said that she feels so much love and her heart swells when she thinks about it. We love teaching her and showing her pictures of our family, hearing about her family who are all far away in Peru while she is working here. I feel like she is my second mom. She gives the best hugs, has so much love for the Lord, and loves to say cute little English phrases to us to practice her English. We will be setting a baptismal date for her hopefully tonight when we take her for a temple tour ;^) She came to church last week and two sessions of conference. The first time she came in jeans, then the next in a skirt, looking just like a member. I love her so much.

We are also teaching a lady from Spain (which is a pretty rare occasion!) and her name is Rocio. She has such a desire to know her purpose in life and often reads more than we even ask her to. I feel the spirit so strong as we are able to tell people that they DO have a purpose here in this life and they have a Heavenly Father that loves them so much!

Also, wasn't general conference just so wonderful? From what I understood at least, it was great ;^) I saw one or two talks in English and the rest we watched with our ´´friends´´ (investigators) in Spanish, which was a little difficult. I will work on reading them. It was really neat this time though, because I wrote down questions and things I was struggling with before conference, then took notes at conference, and went through and highlighted every single answer that I received. Our leaders are so inspired. I love this gospel. I love how the relief society and first session were so based on COVENANTS that we have made. I have a renewed desire to remember and fulfill the covenants I have made with the Lord and serve Him with all that I have.

Some of my favorite quotes from conference (paraphrased… haha I was translating from Spanish to English I hope this is what they said!)

´´Doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith´´

´´We were not placed on this earth to walk alone, from the beginning our loving Heavenly Father promised us He would be there with us. He loves us NO MATTER WHAT.´´

´´It is not important where we serve but what we do. It is not so much where you have been or what you have done, but what you WERE and ARE willing to do´´… sometimes I wonder why I was called here. I feel like I struggle to speak this language sometimes, I wonder if I am being the missionary that the Lord wants me to be. But I am realizing more and more that a willing heart and a strong desire to follow this Lord is truly what it takes."

´´Cling to your Covenants and the Lord will lift our Burdens´´

I love you all so much! I am so grateful for a loving companion that has shown me how to have fun and work hard. I am grateful for a Mom and Dad that have always taught me the ways of the Lord, I always knew what they expected of me. I am grateful for worthy priesthood holders in my life. I am grateful to be serving a mission, in this great work of Salvation. I am so grateful to be serving at the same time as my brother and sharing experiences! I have really learned how much I love America from being here and for the cultures and freedoms we have there. I am grateful for living prophets and apostles to guide us. I am grateful to be an instrument in the Lord´s hand here in Spain. I am grateful for trials that keep us humble and help me turn to the Lord. I am grateful for all of you, especially my family ;^)

I love you so much! Have a great week!

Love, Hermana Mather