Monday, January 27, 2014

Just keep swimming!!!‏

27 Enero 2014

First of all, HAPPY BIRTHDAY AARON!!!!! woof.... 14 years old?!?!? I cannot believe you´re so stinkin' old now. I was going to send you a cane and a wheelchair but I don´t have money for the postage. I hope you enjoy my birthday card! Have you gotten it?!? HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU HAPPY BIRTHDAY DEAR AARON HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YEEWWWW!!!!!!! Just imagine me singing that very loud to you in the morning for your breakfast in bed :)

Today ALSO marks one year since I opened my mission call. WOW how time has flown. It has caused me to sit back and think about how much life has changed since then. From that day when wade and I opened our mission calls, life was all about preparing for a mission, entering the temple, and studying to scriptures. That feels like yesterday! Now, here I am, in a little locutorio in Spain, with my little missionary Chapa on, sitting next to my companion. I feel so grateful to my Heavenly Father for giving me the prompting to serve a mission. I learn more and more every day of the reality of our Savior Jesus Christ as we teach that his Atonement carries our investigators. But it not only does that, He carries me during my times of trial and weakness. There are so many things I know I would not have learned otherwise. I feel such a love and appreciation for my family. I see the importance of having a life centered on the teachings of the gospel.

So for this week! I read an article from the Liahona [church magazine] this morning that mentions Finding Nemo and how sometimes in life, we just need to KEEP SWIMMING (I thought of you, Petunia)!! Missionary work can be like that sometimes. Enduring, being obedient, studying, teaching, talking to everyone... knowing that the Lord will see the true desires of our hearts and work miracles. Marcos, from last week, who threw keys at Hermana Aagard´s head haha, has been progressing so well! Before, he was in his own little world, forgetting to come to our appointments and not seeing much of the importance of the gospel in his life. But since becoming in contact with him again, he is so much more humble and willing to listen, really taking to heart the lessons we prepare to teach him. God worked this little miracle: 5 months ago we contacted Raul, a friend of Marcos and began teaching in his house. Raul didn't end of having time or interest, but Marcos listened. We lost contact with him, but ran into him again, and we are teaching him. He is preparing for the 15th of February for baptism.

I don´t know how much I have told you about Alba and Walter, but they are a couple we are teaching that I wanted to tell you about! Alba was also a street contact from 2 transfers ago (about 2 months or so). They are both from El Salvador, and they have accepted all of our teachings well, and we even taught her to make brownies.  We always have a great time there, laughing and feeling the spirit in our lessons.  I love watching them interact. They are so sweet to each other and really truly love each other. However, they are not married...... A dreaded bit of information to find out when you are a missionary!! So we have been dreading a little bit teaching the law of Chastity lesson to them, because we really weren't sure how they were going to react! We taught the Ten Commandments and read "Thou shalt not commit adultery" and passed over it a bit the time before, but this time, we really emphasized the importance of the family in God´s plan. The family is the center unit of why we are here! We are not given these families by chance, and children deserve to be born in the ties of marriage. I felt the spirit testify to the truth of this as we studied for and taught this lesson. All in all the lesson really did go very smoothly, and they understood the importance of marriage in God´s plan. Walter will be leaving Spain in 1 month, and they are not sure when they will see each other again. It could be months, or it could be years. In spite of all this, they still accepted to live the law of chastity because they know that it is the right thing to do, and that it will bless their lives. THIS IS INCREDIBLE TO ME! Wow, people have so much faith, they never fail to strengthen mine. Alba said immediately "Walter to the couch!!" then squished his cheek. I love them.

Just a few thoughts!
1. I did an exchange with my friend from the MTC, Hermana Nydegger, who just returned from the [Canary] islands. We had not seen each other in 6 months. Wow how time has flown! I actually met her at BYU in mission prep class before we left. It was neat seeing both of our progress with gospel understanding and language.
2. Pablo is now Assistant Mission Leader... best friends with the mission leader, Segundo! So he comes to correlation with all of us missionaries and he gets to see what goes on "behind the scenes" of the missionary work, as a recent fruit of our labors! ha, he swore 4 times in correlation though. I guess we need to have the 10 commandments lesson again. oof.
3. I received a cool package from grandpa with pictures and stories and poems! Thanks grandpa!! I sent a picture of it. I got to see dad as a missionary!!!

Well, that's about all for this week!

Love you all!

Love, Hermana Mather

The baptism board in our ward!

Package grandpa sent with pictures of the Sacred Grove, his mission and dad's mission too!

This is a little example of the city life I have become accustomed to.
So different from little Monument Colorado!

Our first landmark here in Alcobendas!
I always knew where I was when I could find HOMIES TATTOO.

An example of a little fruiteria.
We have these on every corner.

At Zone Conference with Hermana Aagard in Alcala

We were so excited to have peanut butter.
Hermana Aagard put our picture on it because we have had great bonding experiences.


Christmas from Wade!


Well, I wrote Aaron a birthday card of 14 reasons why I love him.
I guess the number 7 didn't make it in… sorry!
Here it is! Happy birthday!!!!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Why I love being a missionary :)‏

20 Enero 2014

Hola a todos [Hello everyone] :) I hope you all had a great week :)

I just read Wade´s email, and I couldn't agree more with him about Amber and Aaron... serving the mission is the BEST. Sure, it is one of the hardest things I have done yet in many ways, but there are so many blessings I have seen now, and some I am sure I have not even seen yet.  ALWAYS, always, always keep this in the back of your minds because everything you are doing now is preparing you for something else.  Always be ready and worthy to be able to serve, you will not regret it.  You will make friends for a lifetime.

Speaking of friends for a lifetime, Hermana Aagard and I figured out that by the end of this transfer, we will have spent 168 days... just about 6 months together NONSTOP! Wow, that's quite incredible.  She has taught me so much, and we have learned distinct lessons every transfer. I just wanted to share with you what we like to do after every transfer to measure our growth and progress. We like to write memorable moments, what we have learned, and what we can improve on. These are just a few things that I have learned personally from serving so far, my 7 months as a missionary:

1. Work HARD. It is the best feeling to be happily exhausted at the end of the day.
2. Laughter really is the best medicine.
3. Involve God. It is HIS work. We are to teach by HIS power, with HIS spirit, and speak HIS words.
4. Comparing yourself (not just in missionary work) does not move you forward. We should be taking our imperfections to the Lord, and he can tell us personally how we can be better.
5. Miracles are found when you are out WORKING.
6. Obedience with exactness is possible, and truly brings miracles :)
7. God uses imperfect people to do His work... I may not ever feel completely adequate, but God does make up for my weaknesses and those are the moments when I can recognize His power. (Ether 12:27)
8. LOVE is everything. This gospel is love. Numbers and goals are there to push us to our full potential. I will not always remember numbers, but I will always remember the people I came to love.
9. First impressions are generally wrong... (Agustina and Pablo).
10. When I am teaching with the spirit, I recognize it because I learn from what I have said, that I didn't realize before. I have seen this in lessons and when we share what we learn in companionship study.
11. God can make MORE with LESS time, and we have been taking time to serve other missionaries and do intercambios [exchanges] with them.
12. Memories are made with people, not so much where you are or what things you have.
13. The holidays truly mean more as we testify of Christ and learn of Him. And as we focus on the miracle of His life, and not just on His birth.
14. God takes imperfect efforts and strange situations and turns them into something beautiful.
15. Successful missionaries are measured by the transformation that occurs in the lives of other people.

And what I LOVE about being a missionary:
1. Feeling like we are instruments in the Lord´s hands, looking back and knowing we were where we needed to be, saying what we needed to say.
2. All of the incredible people that have changed my life forever... people so willing to open up, tell us their struggles and let the Lord heal their doubts and pains.
3. Discovering over and over again that the Lord knows me personally and is one of my best friends.
4. Fear is the opposite of faith and Satan in real. We need to protect ourselves ever day against his powers (2 Timothy 1:7-8).
5. Seeing other people come unto Christ and seeing myself change little by little in the process (I hope!).
6. Feeling the support from prayers all around the world especially family and close friends.
7. Meeting people not only prepared for this message, but also humble enough to accept it.
8. Loving the scriptures, learning to love the words of the prophets and feel their faith.
9. We can permit the Lord to change us when we give ourselves to the Lord and His work.
10. Learning the DESIRE is everything. We should willingly give our hearts to the Lord. That is when we can feel His power and see miracles (Helaman 3:35).
11. I see the need of a marriage rooted in the strength of the gospel.
12. I hope that my family is blessed for my service here (please read "Come, All Ye Sons of God"... an incredible story.)
13. I think I am comprehending a little bit of what parents mean when they say that the love their children different, but equally. Our converts in the church are SO different but I have such love for each of them and want them to continue to grow and learn. hah sounds cheesy I know.

So there are just a few reasons for you (especially Amber and Aaron... I am so excited for you to start preparing to go on missions :)

Just a little excerpt from Hermana Aargard´s email for the week: hah

"Miracle in disguise, was Marcos. Marcos was an investigator that had a fecha [baptism date] but he disappeared from off the face of the earth. Randomly last week he called us and asked if we could come to his piso, because he was locked IN his piso [apartment]. We thought we had understood wrong but went to his piso. We found him hanging out his window waving keys saying the locks didn't work. He told us he was going to throw the keys so we could let him out. Very strange I know. Anyways I get below him to catch the aforementioned keys and without warning he chucks them down. Luckily, my face broke their fall. I now have a lovely dent right in between my eyes from where his keys met my face. Hahah I am learning charity on the mission J But it was worth it because he came to church the next day and is working towards a baptismal date."

That was an adventure. Isn't my companion funny??

So after the two baptisms we just had, we have been looking for a lot new investigators, walking and knocking doors a lot. Our ward mission leader came back from Utah wearing a shirt with a huge American flag on it! haha. We are so glad to have him back and pushing us to help our investigators and get them to progress. I agree with wade, the WARD MISSION TEAM it something every ward should have. we need members in the work.

Oh, one more little miracle, last p-day we were chased out of the Locutorio [internet cafe] by a man saying "Elders! Elders!" It was a man from Bolivia who has been inactive for a long time, but has been looking for the church here. He wants us to start teaching his friend who is searching for the truth. His name is Jerson.

Welp, sorry for the long email this week, I finally had time to say all that I have been meaning to say for a while :) I love you all and pray for you all the time!!!

Love, Hermana Mather

P.S. Just an interesting fact, we found a store here that is like WALMART!!! Wow please cherish every moment you have near a store that has everything you are looking for.  Haha it was like being in America! It was such a little tender mercy, yet very overwhelming at the same time. Hehe, sometimes I am reminded how much I love America.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

God is a God of Miracles!!!‏

13 Enero 2014

Hello Family! It makes me so happy that you have been reading our emails for FHE every week AND that you will be doing FHE missionary writing nights. Oh goodness I love getting letters more than you can imagine. I never knew how happy just a simple few pieces of paper with a stamp on it could make me :) I wish I could express in words my deep appreciation for all of the time and sacrifice that went into sending carious packages and letter. It is so nice to have a little home away from home, eating dried mangos and reeses from America with my new hippo slippers on my feet.

So this week was the baptism for Agustina!!!! Wow, this woman is incredible :) We actually had President Jackson´s wife, Hermana Jackson in a lesson with us and her this week, it was really fun. We realized that Agustina doesn't actually know our names either, haha so we have been working on that. She really just enjoys calling us "Mi Niñas" which just means "my daughters" :) . She has been the biggest tender mercy for me here. She always talks about how she looks at the positive ALL the time. She tells us how her husband died but its not a big deal, she still feels his presence and she knows she will see him again. She is friends with EVERYONE. She knows half of the people in our church, just from being friendly and positive and loving to everyone, so even her first time at church she had friends everywhere because of her Christ-like attitude towards everyone :)

The baptismal service was beautiful. Oof, baptisms can be very stressful trying to organize everyone to drive to the temple and make sure the baptismal clothes are set to go, people giving the talks are coming, programs are taken care of, Agustina feels special, there is food, etc. It was a beautiful service, though, after the talks and on Baptism and the Holy Ghost were given, we walked her to the font, and she was just smiling and crying out of joy, as she was about to fulfill the promise made to her by her father more than 50 years ago. And she is just the most huggable little woman.. I love her!!!! She is my little Dominican Grandma. Family, I want you to meet her someday.

Haha, funny story, an old Spanish man who came to a lesson with her baptized her, and it took 3 TIMES... hehe. He was really nervous and kept messing up the work order and couldn't submerge her. But in the end, it all turned out okay :)

Truly, I believe that different times in my mission will bring different struggles. It is very difficult to feel like I am making progress sometimes because just when I feel like I have achieved something, I there another struggle comes along or I have another humbling experience. But this is what LIFE in general is all about. I truly believe life should be about enjoying where you are, who you are with, and what you are learning at any given time, and helping others along the way. I am so grateful to lose myself in this work and serve others. Every waking moment of the day is physically and mentally and spiritually taxing but SO WORTH IT.

Being a missionary is incredible. I read a talk the other day that said we will know when we are speaking through the spirit when we learn from the things that are coming out of our own mouths. I find this happening as a missionary often and it bears testimony to me that the Lord uses us as weak humans into strong instruments to touch the lives of others.

I love the immediate trust and love that some people have for missionaries. I love the support and prayers I feel from home. I love being a living witness that GOD IS A GOD OF MIRACLES, as we read in Mormon, chapter 9. I am amazed looking back at many experiences on my mission, noticing that many of our encounters that have come to be miracles did not seem so out of ordinary at the time. The night we met Agustina was just any old night, walking home in the dark, finding one last person to contact. It happened to be a little old Dominican woman in bright blue pants headed to a catholic funeral, but she is now a baptized member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

I love you all so much and love reading your emails every week :)

Have a great week! I look forward to your letters!!!

Love, Hermana Mather

Hermana Mather, Agustina, Hermana Aagard

Tuesday, January 7, 2014


6 January 2014

Transfers Transfers Transfers.... well this night is one of the most stressful days on the mission (besides Sundays and baptisms of course!). Hermana Aagard had really just been trying to live up the last moments that one of us was to have in Alcobendas / San Sebastián, and we actually started packing and getting a bit organized so that whichever one of us left would just be ready to go! It was all so bittersweet, and I felt like I was probably the one that would be leaving, which is sad because we have a baptism for Augostina next week. So when we have transfers, we call our district leader at nine o clock on the dot (I had been feeling physically a bit ill for a couple of days out of anticipation of everything, haha). So we call him and he says that.... DRUMROLLLL please...Hermana Aagard and I are staying here together in Sanse! We had to ask him 5 more times to tell us the truth because we did not believe him. Yes, I do assure you that I am telling the truth. I am pretty sure we have set a mission record for the most consecutive transfers ever spent with the same companion!!! By the end of this transfer we will have spent 4 transfers together, about equal to 6 months! WOW! hehe, at first we didn't even seem happy, just too in shock and we didn't believe it. We had to keep assuring each other that we were happy to be here together for another transfer! 10,000 emotions were going through my mind, mostly fear and worry that I would just get to comfortable with the same companion, same area, same routine. BUT we woke up the next morning, just really excited to still be here! We also talked to Hermana Jackson, the mission president´s wife, and she asked if we were okay with transfers. We said of course!! She said she was really pushing for us to be together again... and that there is no point in fixing what isn't broken, hahah.

Overall, especially the Sunday after we found out transfers, I feel so grateful to still be here with Hermana Aagard in this area! I sure do love each of the ward members, and we have such obedient and hard-working elders in our area! One of the Assistants to the President, elder Argyle went home this last transfer, along with two other elders, and that it was hard to have so many changes. Changes have always been hard for me.  but I know they keep us on our toes working hard!! So it will be great to get to know the new Assistant Elder Merriman (from Colorado!) and some new sisters that are moving here! I love this area! I am so grateful for change although it can be hard!!!

We are moving furniture around in our piso [apartment] just to have a little bit of change because we feel like SOMETHING needs to change. heehhe.

So this coming Saturday is Augostina´s baptism!!! We met here the beginning of last transfer, and she was just so prepared from the beginning. She is the most energetic 67 year old woman I have ever met! Still working and babysitting 4 grandchildren at a time. We go into the lessons, and really by the end she is the one that teaches us all we need to know. haha. we taught her the Word of Wisdom and she told us that she had drank beer and coffee once in her life and from there she knew it was wrong, never did it again, and has never done anything else contrary to it. We asked her what goals she has for 2014, and she answers (in her cute, Dominican Republic Spanish, where she adds an "s" onto everything and drops her "d"s ) "MIS BAUTISMOS, CLARO". haha which means "My baptisms, of course". She came to Pablo´s baptism and loved it, and is talking praying about friends to share the gospel with, and invites all the ward members to her baptism. She is just friends with everyone! A cute little, go with the flow, leaf in the wind :) I sure love her. She cried the other day talking to us about how we have changed her life, and filled the hole that she had felt before that no other church could fill. I LOVE THIS WOMAN!!! We have been blessed to see miracles here. Before, I didn't know that the Lord could work miracles through us, but as a missionary and have come to learn that is not only possible, but we can EXPECT miracles when we act on what little faith we may have. This woman is a miracle that I will never forget.

Also, Pablo! Pablo Pablo Pablo.... This man comes to church after long night shifts of work, shows up at church 25 minutes early, and asks us deep doctrinal questions after reading the Book of Mormon and bible all night at church. WOW! hehe. I love studying his questions. He already brings extra food for the needy at church, and candy for the primary. He calls Hermana Aagard and I his "niñas", or his daughters, and is so grateful to have this worldwide family here now, since he is divorced and his daughters live in Chile. I feel so grateful to see some of these "little miracles" and little "fruits of our labors" here! These people (including ward members) have changed my life, and there is nothing more satisfying or testimony building than seeing people accept the happiness that the gospel brings to them and become strong, faithful members (and hopefully leaders and future family generations!) in the church.

Mervin also baptized one of the converts at the baptism two weeks ago! Not sure if I told you! And we are working with a couple from El Salvador who came to church last week and loved it, named Alba and Walter. Please pray for each of these people. I hope to tell you more about them soon. A year ago, this ward was about 50-ish people, and now it has grown to 130 people some weeks and we are in the works for a new chapel!!!

Well, my time is up! as usual, I wish I could tell you every little detail but that's all for this week! Also, anyone who sends me letters... coolest stamp contest! I am collecting all of the stamps I have been sent and would appreciate some unique ones! And a HUUUGE thank you for all of the packages and letters and kind thought from the ward and family and friends. I feel so loved!!!

Have a great week! Pictures to come next week!!!

Love, Hermana Emily Mather