Monday, November 25, 2013

We Are Staying in Alcobendas!!!‏

25 November 2013

OOF Hermana Aagard and I have been worried all week about what would happen with transfers since most people only usually stay together for 1 or 2 transfers. We went on exchanges the day before we were supposed to find out transfers and it was a big wake up call to the incredible companionship that we have. Hermana Aagard is like my sister (no one can replace my beautiful sister Amber!!). It is incredible to me that we have lived together, 24/7 for about 3 months now and we haven´t killed each other. What I love more than anything is that we make missionary work FUN and we are always laughing together. But we feel the spirit so strongly together in lessons, and we can really always relate to each other with how we are feeling. I love that she ALWAYS not only pushes me to be a better missionary but a better, more charitable and loving person. She was also just made one of the new sister training leaders! She is an incredible example to me and I think president saw that so many other people needed to learn from her so I have to share her now. I have no doubt that God knew I needed her in my life (especially for another 6 weeks together!! We have spent our birthdays together and now we will spend Thanksgiving and Christmas together too! What I blessing!

We are so blessed to stay here in the ward (although it is getting VERY chilly here and the islands sound nice haha). This ward is incredibly willing to help out with lessons, and is very loving to all of us. I already cannot imagine leaving the ward members here (including our "little rock" Mervin, who loves helping us out in lessons!)

Also, we had an interesting couple of lessons with a lady named Marta that I do not think I have told you much about. She is the Sister of Luis Morales.  We give all of the people we are teaching "baptismal calendars" where it has a scripture for them to read a day and shows them their progress as they work towards their baptismal date. We gave one to Marta for this past Sunday, the 24th of November, and we went over to teach her on Tuesday and we realized how fast she had really progressed, and we asked her the baptismal interview questions. She hasn't drank coffee for 2 weeks now, which was something that she was really struggling with, and she answered with affirmation all of the other questions, where 2 weeks ago, she would be saying that she was very unsure. The only thing that is holding her back is her husband, who always seems to be drunk and emotionally abusive to her. He is not very fond of the church. This woman has been investigating the church for 10 years now, and she has always had a fear of being baptized because she feels like she will not stay strong afterwards, and she has had a fear of her husband finding out. Now, she has the firm desire to be baptized, and as of Tuesday, we really saw it happening and had faith that her husband's heart can change. She texted us later and said it all needed to wait because with her husband it can't work. We went over there today and found her crying, and confided many things with us about her life, talking about possibly divorcing her husband because she hasn't felt valued or loved or respected for 22 years, and how her father died when she was young and her mother was abused by another man and ended up dying. I would never even think any of this just from looking at this woman. It just hurts my heart to think about. I wish I could do more, but sometimes as a missionary I think we are just here to love people. This woman really needs to be loved, and we may not have a baptism with her anytime soon because of her husband but I am grateful that she trusts two young girls around the age of 20 to listen and try to comfort her. This experience really touched my heart and made me grateful for all that I have.

We also found a new woman knocking doors the other day! This was my first experience of someone that let us in. Immediately she started crying and told us of the pain she felt because she felt so unvalued because of the sickness she has and her daughter that she lives with does not give her the time of day. She said that she didn't feel like she had any point in living. The Lord placed us there when this woman needed it, she calls us her rescuers. I do not know anything greater that could testify of the Lord´s love for his children. Her name is Dominga, from the Dominican Republic, and we have met with her every day since. After two days, she already said that she has stopped crying and felt so much comfort from the Book of Mormon. She came to church and loved it :) This gospel has a way of healing deep wounds and filling in the holes in our hearts. This best kind of acceptance comes from our loving Heavenly Father. I feel privileged to be a messenger of this message.

I am feeling EXTRA grateful for the love and support I feel from everyone at home. The ward, friends, family! Thank you for your prayers and support! Hermana Aagard and I tried something new this past week that we love... we realized how much we complain during the week. And we decided every time we complain we have to say two positive things that we are grateful for. We have seen our attitudes about everything change TREMENDOUSLY! Just in time for Thanksgiving especially. I am grateful for the freedoms I grew up with. I am grateful that my family all lives together in the same country (many many people live here trying to find work for years away from their small children who they do not get to see grow up) and that we grew up in this gospel. I am grateful for my companion, and how similar our life circumstances have been. I am grateful for the woman that my mother is and what an example of hard work she has always been. I am grateful for Dad and his dedication to our family. I could go on and on and on!!

Also, look up the song from "Arise and Shine Forth" Especially For Youth (EFY) called "Never Be the Same". I love it.

How is everyone doing on their Book or Mormon reading??! Are you going to finish by the end of the year with me?

Have a great week! I love you all!!

Love, Hermana Emily Mather

Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Hardest Thing :)‏

18 November 2013

Good morning to all of you in the US :) Family, I loved hearing those stories about Amber and Aaron; it is nice to know we are missed. I love that you had the missionaries over and signed a contract! Yes! We started doing that my first transfer and I want to start doing it again. Will Amber be feeling better soon? Mom and Dad, you sound so busy, I hope you get a break soon!! Good job Aaron with wrestling!!! Is it getting chilly there? Goodness, it is starting to get a bit chilly here, and I am sooo grateful that I bought that coat. Is it snowing there yet? Can you believe that it is the middle of November?

Well, this week has made me think a bit about home, and how I won't be home for the holidays. That will be so strange! But after reading Conor´s email I was thinking about how I feel my family´s love ALL THE TIME. I feel the prayers of family and friends and that makes it okay. Every day is hard in one way or another on the mission, but it was never easy for our Savior, and he is just trying to shape us every day. I wanted you all to listen to "The Hardest Thing" by Nashville Tribute Band, because this explains my feelings of the mission better than I can.

I am beginning to realize what Moroni meant when he said that he could not write a hundredth part of his feelings in the Book of Mormon. Haha that is how I feel every week writing home, but I try. First of all, I didn't tell you much about Toledo!!!! Oh it was really spontaneous! The elders were supposed to come with us, but ended up not being able to the last minute, and so Hermana Aagard and I just ended up getting on a train and going ourselves!!! It was a fun, exhausting adventure. It was like we walked into a dream of castles and knights and swords in this medieval town. We toured the Cathedral with a little audio tour (Dad, you would have loved it, I kept thinking of you) and walked these cobblestone streets that were thousands of years old. Ah it was like a 4 hour fairy tale. Preparation days are only so long! And we were sooo exhausted afterward!!

We began meeting with a new lady from Venezuela named Veronica. She loves reading and is a psychologist, so she really reads deep into things doctrinally. I love teaching her! She tells us how she used to be so happy and smile so much, but she just hasn't for a while because she is worried about her family and out of work. So now she is looking closer at her relationship with God and trying to make plans to go to the US where things look a little brighter for her. I love seeing her smile when we tell her that she is a daughter of God. I love hearing her prayers after we visit with her, because she thanks God for the peace that she feels when she reads and meets with us. What a blessing it is to be a missionary!!!!

I love the temple. I feel such a spirit overcome me every time I go and just sit in there. I feel so blessed to be able to go to the temple here in Madrid and feel the incredible peace there.

We also found a fun little Medieval Festival here in the center of our little town this week! It was so fun to listen to some bagpipes and look at all the little knickknacks and see people in costumes dancing around!!

Oh we there is also a lady in our ward who is a cancer survivor and just recently completed her final chemo treatments. She has a powerful testimony and we love visiting with her. She also has a lot of friends who still have cancer, and we have been visiting on of them in the hospital. They have told her that she has about 2 weeks to live, because her breast cancer has metastasized to her brain. So we have been visiting her in the hospital. She is from Cuba and actually speaks quite a bit of English. Her face lights up every time we talk to her in English. Her best friend is with her there every day and sure is having a hard time. So we try to cheer her up and share scriptures and last time we even sang Christmas songs for them. Eli (the lady with cancer) sang along :)

Last of all, Mervin received the priesthood on Sunday!!!!  I COMPLETELY agree with Wade (and I think any missionary will agree) Sundays are so stressful. The investigators that we were hoping for didn't end up showing, but of course we see Mervin walking, without an umbrella, in the pouring rain, right up to the chapel. We call him our little rock. There was such a peace in the room as they ordained him to the Aaronic Priesthood. My favorite part was that right afterwards, he was able to help set apart a man in our ward for his calling. All of the sudden, I felt tears running down my face.. I couldn't stop crying! I saw him standing there with his hands on this man´s head, and I pictured him giving priesthood blessings to his family. I was thinking of Dad, and what a comfort it was to have the priesthood in our home, for blessing before the school year or when we are sick. I vividly remembered when Nathan and Dad gave me a blessing after I had my wisdom teeth taken out... and I was reminded of how grateful I am for worthy men that hold the priesthood that have blessed my life. And now Mervin is THAT MAN for his family. Or he will be when they are reunited! Ah... Alma 27:8 describes how I felt :)

Well, I hope I finally filled you all in a bit more. I love you and pray for you!!! p.s. I can´t wait to talk to you for Christmas! do you think there is any way I can talk to Wade too?

I love you!!!
Love, Hermana Mather

TOLEDO!!!!! It seems like dream!!!

More Toledo!


Mervin´s Baptism!!!

LOVE Hermana Aagard!!!!! What a fun P-day trip

Niños clases de ingles that we teach!!! 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Mervin´s Baptism!!!‏

11 November 2013

Buenas Tardes Familia y Amigos!

Phew, it has been crazy stressful week!

Every week as a missionary is pretty stressful and tiring, but this week was even more so! Oof I wish I could tell you every minute of every single day, but I will try my best in this little email time!

I love having lessons with members, who can really relate to the people we are teaching. A lady named Graciela who was just baptized 1 year ago likes to help us in our appointments and she always talks about how it helps her keep her testimony strong. I LOVE teaching the little niños clases de ingles!!!! This is the best kind of service ever, as we get to teach little children, and the mothers are starting to open up and ask questions about the church and like that we pray before the classes! And they want to learn how to make American brownies from us! There is also a return missionary that just got home from Washington D.C. that lives in our ward, who served a Spanish speaking mission, but learned English on her mission, who goes with us to lessons and we learn a lot from her too! I love this work!!

During our Thursday planning session, both Hermana Aagard and I had been feeling really down on ourselves after having a zone conference that told hit a lot of points that we can do better at as missionaries. We just got to the end of planning, then had companion inventory, where we talk about the strengths of our relationships, how we can do better, etc. and before we knew it, Sister Aagard was crying and I started to cry as we both felt like we would never be the missionaries that the Lord wanted us to be. I would describe it as the feeling that we are standing at the bottom of one of those 14ers that we like to hike as a family, wondering how we will ever make it to the top. I was hit with another wave of homesickness this week that came out of nowhere! And here we were just wondering how we could press forward as representatives of Jesus Christ when we feel so imperfect. But, we cried it out, and then went back to work! haha it was pretty weird, and I think that the adversary was just hitting us pretty hard before we had our baptism this week.

We met with Mervin every day this week to help him finish up the lessons and get him all ready for baptism! We have been having little "Family Home Evenings" with him in the homes of the members so that they can get to know him. I love this man! It was really neat talking to him again about how he would take upon him Christ´s name, the power of God that he would hold when he receives the priesthood, and how he can spread this happiness to his family that lives in the Dominican Republic. AH! This is what we work for every day. To see these souls come unto Christ. This is why we study for hours, spend all day walking and contacting people and building relationships with members. And it was incredible to see it all come together as this man dressed in white stepped into the water and committed to follow Christ. He bore his testimony afterwards and said that he felt clean of things that tormented him before and that he had never felt so content :) Then to see his face as we sat in church and he was confirmed a member of the Church of Jesus-Christ of Latter-day Saints was just the best. And as everyone raised their hand to affirm that he was accepted and sustained as a member. I loved looking as Mervin´s face. He looked so content. I am convinced that there is nothing better than to bring this gospel to people, as we come to understand their needs and circumstances and what principles of the gospel they could use most right now. We are surrounded by God´s children who will each one day come to the truth, and we were so blessed to be a part of helping Mervin make this commitment!

So now, we feel like we are starting over a little bit, as we are trying to find a lot of new people to teach. I am reminded how much I love getting to know new people and bringing them to the restored truths. There truly are people being prepared everywhere, we see the Lord´s hand every day.

I wish I had more time to write now, but just a few more highlights! We get to go the temple this week and see the new movie, I am SOOOOOOOOO EXCITED!!!!  And, I ate cow tongue! Nathan, you were right, it is so tender and delicious!!!!!! yum, we didn't even know what it was until after haha. We also went to Toledo today!!! I will send those pictures next week!

I love you! Dad and Mom, I bought all of you Christmas presents in Toledo to send next week. I want you to be here exploring it all too! Please pray for me too, I am nervous for the next transfers and have been feeling homesick again, not sure why.

Have a great week! I love you!!

Love, Hermana Emily Marie Mather

Hermana Aagard, Mervin, Hermana Mather

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Milagro = Ver una vida cambiando por medio la expiacion‏

4 November 2013

Happy Halloween Family and Friends!!!

It was weird not being home for Halloween this year! I sure hope everyone had fun asking for free candy. What a wonderful tradition we have haha. Aaron and Amber, I hope that you did not stop trick or treating until you had a pillowcase full and enough left over to send me :) But really, I have been in Spain serving as a missionary for a little over 4 months now, does that blow anyone else's mind? Sometimes time does go kind of slow, but when we are working hard and having fun the time flies!

This week we had Zone Conference (we have this meeting every three months, so it was my first one) with President Jackson and His wife and intercambios (exchanges) with the Sister Training leaders. I loved Zone Conference. I think it came just in time, as I felt like a have needed a little bit of a push to work harder. I have never really been a lazy or disobedient person, but lately I had felt the need to get my heart in the right place and let my desires be more in line with those of the Lord's. It is hard when we get up at the same time every day, exercise, study, and basically the same is hard not to become complacent. BUT I do not want to become comfortable with what I am, because I know I will always have something to improve on. I completely agree with Wade´s last email, that it is sometimes really hard to deal with all of the stresses and demands of the mission. I happen to also be a perfectionist in many ways, and I came out into the field thinking that if I worked hard enough I could be the perfect missionary. How wrong I was. It is still hard sometimes (once again I agree with Wade) because I do not always feel happy and I never truly feel adequate, but the Lord never asked us to do this alone. He asks us to come unto Him and let him change us. a big theme of zone conference was "Nuestro exito es directamente proporcionado a nuestros deseos - tanto en la mision como nuestras vidas" which translates to "Our success is directly proportionate to our desires - both in our mission as our lives". Our desires lead to what we change about ourselves, what we achieve, and what we become to be. We talked about how to receive more righteous desires and how we can be happier and see more success in repenting and changing out desires to make them in line more with the Lord's. I feel like I always have so much to change and I can always be better. I will never be the perfect missionary. That is discouraging sometimes as I feel all of my weaknesses are shown! But I loved what the shared at Zone conference as well: Nunca vamos a llegar al final de la mision y quejarnos por haber obedecido o trabajado arduament. This translates to "We will never come to the end of our mission and complain about the fact that we were too obedient or worked too hard", but you will regret it otherwise.

We also watched: "Sanctify Yourselves" Mormon message, and Super Sid (Sid Going) Mormon message. Both very powerful and of course mad me cry.

Also funny story, the man who will be baptized this weekend... his name is MERVIN not Melvin. haha. Sometimes we still do not understand the crazy accents of the Dominicans here. But we sure love him. He had his baptismal interview a couple of days ago. He ended up being in there for AN HOUR. Sister Aagard and I were getting a little nervous because it was taking so long. But, he came out with a big smile on... happiest moment of my mission. He will be baptized November 9th as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This man is our miracle (Milagro!). The miracle of the mission is seeing a life changed through the Atonement. This man gracefully accepted each of the lessons we taught, so willing to live the law of chastity and not move in with the woman he loves. Apparently he had been drinking quite a bit up until we met him, and he immediately stopped once we started teaching him. He has a little bit of a hard time reading but we have already seen his abilities improve with reading the Book of Mormon. What a journey and a privilege it has been to teach this man and see his life change. When he gives answers in Sunday school he likes to read ahead in the manual and stand up and give the answers in his own humble manner. And then Sister Aagard and I cannot stop smiling. And he made us brownies!

We also have another man named Marcos who accepted a baptismal date for December 1st!!! This man has also progressed relatively fast and has some really in-depth, well thought out questions when we meet with him. I love teaching him as well! Sometimes it is hard to feel like we are making progress here, when there are some days where all of your appointments fall through, or no one is answering their phone, or people just plain aren't progressing. But I know the Lord´s hand is in this. We know the ending of this story... the gospel is meant to be taken to all the ends of the earth and it is a privilege to be a part of it!

We also ate with an American family in our ward on Sunday! OOO it felt like home, it made me miss you guys and I loved speaking English and eating American food for a while:) Do you miss me? It is nice to know I am missed sometimes! You should check out their blog i think it is.We will also be going to Toledo next weekend (YAYAYAYA finally some exploration and sightseeing!!) so you can see pictures of that on their blog. I might not be emailing for very long next week.

This is a long e-mail, I hope you've got a little bit of time to read it all. But one last thought: The powers of the Atonement do not lie dormant until one sins and then suddenly spring forth to satisfy the needs of the repentant person. Rather, like the forces of gravity, they are everywhere present, exerting their unseen but powerful influence. The Atonement is, in fact, the most powerful motivational force in the world to be good form day to day and to repent when we have fallen short. The atoning sacrifice was designed to motivate us, to draw us unto Him, to lift us to higher ground, and ultimately to assist us in becoming as he is."

I love you all! I sincerely apologize that letters are coming back so slowly to all of you. I want to write you all back and TRULY appreciate all the love and support. I promise I am trying to write you all back. Please keep them coming. I sure love Family and Friends (Mom, Dad, Nathan, Wade, Amber, Aaron, Mary, Eric Louis, Travis, Eliza, Kristen, Aubrey, Jesseniah, Jeanne, Kurt, Susan, Grandma... this list goes on and on!!!)

Love you all, Hermana Emily Marie Mather

I just wanted you to see the cute little Spanish man named Pepe that we keep running into here! hha. He sang to us. I have a video to send you of it soon! hehe.